Fitness related advice is available at every nook and corner, or every other health and fitness blog. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it is good advice as it could do you more harm than good. Diet fads and fitness trends are forever changing, but there are some that have a large following despite no scientific backing whatsoever. Here are some fitness myths that need busting:
Fitness Is A Number On The Scale
An ideal body weight does not necessarily indicate fitness. If the fat percentage is high, ideal body weight has no meaning. In fact, your risk for disease equals that of an overweight person. A higher than ideal weight with a lower fat percent is healthier. Thus weight loss should result in a better body composition (higher muscle to fat ratio) otherwise you do not qualify to be fitter at the new weight.
Calories Are Everything
Calories are nothing but an energy value of food calculated in a laboratory. All calories are not the same. For example, white rice and whole wheat chapati may have the same calories for 100 gm (in the lab), but they behave differently in the body. While rice being a processed grain moves through the gut faster, it releases sugar into the bloodstream faster than the chapati which takes longer to digest.
As a result, it may get converted into fat faster. Thus simply counting how many calories you consume without paying attention to where they are coming from is a waste of time! Similarly, when you exercise, the treadmill may show a calorie output which is programmed. Your body may burn fewer or lesser calories. If the treadmill is made to run without you on it, there will still be a number on it at the end of 11-hour example, 300 calories at the speed of 5km/hr.
Eat All You Want and Still Lose Weight
This line is used more like a gimmick these days. It’s only partly true. Your body has a requirement of certain nutrients on a daily basis depending on your stage of growth and development, gender, physical activity, current health condition etc. If you eat a little bit of everything, it may or may not help you to lose weight but it will definitely deprive your body of the basic nutrients it needs to function optimally. Imagine, you need 50 gm protein daily. Now you replace your eggs at breakfast for half a dosa or pav bhaji. The exchange can cost you lower protein in terms of quality and quantity. While the protein from the eggs may have assisted repair processes, the dosa and pav bhaji may add up to the fat reserves because that is not what the body needed at that time. Nutrients matter in terms of their quality, quantity, and timing.
But who defines moderation? Relying on your satiety signals to stop eating may not be a very good thing. These signals are blunted in some people and therefore they end up overeating assuming they have eaten in “moderation”. Retraining to recognize satiety cues may be needed in some cases.
High Protein Diet Linked to Kidney Damage
A diet is a combination of carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and water in the amounts needed as per the individual’s requirement. An athlete may need far more protein than a person who does not work out. Thus it’s the question of providing the optimal ratios and not high and low. When the requirement justifies the intake, it becomes optimal. The amount of protein, as well as other nutrients, depends upon several factors. Excess of anything is bad- leave alone protein. Similarly, if the requirement is high and the intake is low, it can be even more damaging.
Different Diets for Different Body Parts
Diets which claim that they serve a specific purpose are shams. So, a beauty diet takes care of your hair and skin, a detox diet flushes toxins; other examples would be heart-healthy diet, weight loss diet, immunity building diet etc. Your body is made up of organs which are nourished by the food you eat. After digestion, the nutrients are carried from the digestive system by the blood and transported to the organs. Thus, if the blood carries all the nutrients your body needs in the right amounts daily, all the organs (hair, skin, heart, immune system, detox system, muscles) will function at their best possible capacity. This is further enhanced by exercise and adequate sleep. One diet can nourish all organs at the same time provided it is complete in terms of the individual’s requirements. Focus on the body as a whole.
That’s not it! There are many such “facts” that we end up believing due to conditioning or sheer ignorance. If this has left you feeling astounded, then watch this space for more coming up in Part 2!