With so many exercise classes to choose from and fad diets popping up, it can be confusing when trying to sort out a diet and exercise routine. There is also plenty of misinformation out there about what works to lose weight and stay healthy.
A general rule of thumb to remember when trying to lose weight is you should burn or workout more calories than you consume. Of course, calorie counting can be incredibly difficult and time-consuming, so a good goal could be to exercise at the gym four days per week and maintain a healthy diet. We all have cheat days, but if you minimize the splurges, you’ll see real results with your health.
Here’s a look at some of the top myths surrounding dieting and exercising.
Myth: All calories are equal
Not all calories have the same effect on your weight, which is important to keep in mind. And, not all calories impact hunger equally as well. For example, calories from candy will not fill you up as much as calories from fruit. And calories from fat are certainly not the same as calories from protein, which can increase metabolism and reduce your appetite. You’ve probably heard of “empty calories” from foods that are highly caloric but don’t add nutritional value, so it’s best to try to reduce the amount of those foods you eat.
Myth: All fat is bad fat
“Low fat” diets come and go and try to sell the public on the best way to lose weight. However, there are many fats that are good for you. These fats are found in foods such as fish, avocado, nuts, and low-fat dairy sources. These types of fats give you energy that you need to get through the day. Saturated and trans fats, however, are the “bad fats” that you want to stay away from; these are found in a lot of processed foods.
Myth: Cardio is the best or only way to lose weight
Cardio exercise is an important part of any workout routine, but many think that spending long hours on the treadmill will result in shedding pounds. A better way to work out? Strength training and high-intensity cardio combined will likely help you drop weight faster. If you have more lean muscle, it’s easier for your body to burn calories while resting, which means losing more weight.
Myth: You need to hit the gym every day
Thankfully, it’s not necessarily true that you need to hit the gym hard every single day. Your body actually needs time to recover between workouts because you break down muscle fibers when you are training. Instead of trying to go to the gym every day, take a few days off per week and go for a walk or swim to help your body relax and recover.
Myth: All carbohydrates are unhealthy
Another fad diet is the “low carb” diet. Carbohydrates are tricky when it comes to dieting, especially for those that suffer from diabetes. Just like fats, however, there are good and bad carbs. Complex carbs like whole grains and beans are typically on the good side, as are carbohydrates that contain fiber such as legumes and brown rice. If you’re trying to lose weight, many suggest limiting the number of carbs to one cup per meal and making sure they are of the complex variety. What to avoid are carbs that have a high-calorie count and added sugar such as chips, white bread, and desserts.
What’s really important is to remain consistent in your workout plan and diet. While many start the new year out strong, it’s easy to let it fade as the year goes on. Try to make a plan and stick to it; for example, only having dessert on the weekends after you have gone to the gym enough times.
If you feel your resilience fading, check out our tips on how to stick with new year’s diet and exercise plans.