Your time is valuable and should not be wasted. With that, I give you myths and mistruths that for some reason have shown a great amount of longevity. It’s time for that to stop.
So with that, here we go:
- Spot reduction of fat: Myth. It cannot be done. This is a common one mainly perpetuated by people doing ab work to get that six pack. Sorry to disappoint but doing a bunch of ab work to get rid of that fat around you belly will not make it disappear quicker. If you do a lot of ab work, along with eating a whole foods plant based diet then you will get there, but not because of the ab work alone, that’s just using up calories. The fat you eat is the fat you wear. Based on your body type the fat will deposit where it wants to, with women mainly in the hips and butt, and with guys usually the belly. That’s just the way it is. So the same goes for these area’s. You can’t target specific areas of your body with exercise to remove fat from that area. By eating correctly and exercising correctly the fat will come off and eventually will also leave those places you want it gone, eventually. But always remember, your overall health is much more important than where you might have some fat. Focus on health and well being, not just looks.
- Fat burning zone: I haven’t heard this for a while up until a few weeks ago. The ‘fat burning zone’ was huge about 10 – 12 years ago. Is there such a thing, a fat burning zone? Yes, in the sense that when exercising at a lower heart rate, let’s say a moderate intensity, the body tends to use more fat as a preferred fuel. Not exclusively but it does use fat. The problem is that’s about it. It does not increase the amount of fat used post exercise and doesn’t really do anything to raise your resting metabolic rate. And you have to exercise for a much longer duration to burn the fat you want to. Comparing this to a high intensity interval workout where the primary fuel is glycogen the body will still not use as much fat. With a high intense interval workout the body uses both glycogen and fat for fuel but the big benefit is afterwards the body uses fat as fuel to help replenish the oxygen consumed (EPOC). Sometimes this can take up to 36 hours depending on the intensity. Also, the resting metabolic rate is raised thus consuming more calories (fat) when resting. So why was the fat burning zone so popular? It was a great way to make money. People loved to hear that they could work out in the fat burning zone with little effort and get results. It’s a good example of the echo chamber, people love to hear positive reinforcements of their bad habits. Books, videos, magazines, etc. where sold by the thousands making people a lot of money.
- Work abs every day: Another myth. I’m not sure if this one is still popular today but there was a time where people would work their abs every day. Sit ups, leg raises, crunches. Maybe pushups is the new ‘abs every day’. If you are already aware that you need to let your muscles rest, recover after a good workout for up to 48 hours then why would abs, or chest muscles be any different? I don’t know either but people treat them differently. Just like you wouldn’t do legs every day, don’t do ab work, or pushups every day either. Work them hard one day then let them recovery over 48 hours.
- Protein after a workout: This is still very common. People have a tough work out, maybe an hour long, or longer. Lots of sweat, lots of work. The body is exhausted. Then, they go and down a protein shake. Believe it or not you are not doing yourself any favours, in fact you are denying your body what it needs: carbs. Most of us have only about 60 minutes of fuel in the form of glucose and glycogen in our body. This is when we are in a state where we are fully fueled, the gas tank is full. Most of us aren’t even at that state when we show up to exercise, we are already running a deficit. So why is this a problem? When you have depleted your fuel, your glycogen stores, you need to replenish them. Glucose and glycogen (the stored glucose) is needed for everything your body does: the brain and other organs functioning, walking, talking, everything including digesting food. If your body doesn’t have the glucose it needs it goes to the glycogen stores and if that is empty because you have just used it all up exercising it will then metabolize muscle tissue into glucose to fulfill it’s needs. So your body is now consuming the muscle tissue you worked so hard to build. It’s awful. So what do you do? After a tough workout consume carbs. Apples, oranges, bananas, berries or anything that is whole foods and high in carbs. I like to have a shake consisting of a banana, a cup of frozen berries (blueberries, strawberries, black berries are great), some unsweetened Almond milk, and some spinach. This gives me both the carbs my body needs to replenish my glucose deficit and also gives me protein the body needs to start the recovery process. An ideal ratio of carbs to protein is 4:1. Later, about 90 minutes I can then have a meal that is more protein focused to also help the body start the healing process. But, if you follow a whole foods plant based diet then you really not worry about this at all as you will be getting the correct ratio of carbs, proteins, fats and importantly fiber.
- You need lots of protein: This is probably the largest myth out there. I’m not going to write too much as I already have an article on this. It comes down to money. The protein supplement industry is a multi billion dollar industry and it’s growing. Hard on our body especially when animal based, too much protein can damage the kidneys, can speed up the aging of cells and basically it is not needed. Your money can be used for better purposes then buying protein supplements. What the message should be is fiber. The lack of fiber in people’s diet is evident in the increase of cancers: colon cancer, prostrate cancer and other sicknesses. Fiber is used by the body to flush out the excess hormones and toxins we have in our body. Without enough fiber, the toxins and hormones stay in the blood and are not removed. We can do a lot in our lives to avoid toxins but we cannot get away from them. Eat any processed foods lately? What about the things you put on your body like shampoos, toothpaste, deodorant and so on. Driving, walking, just being outside we breathe in toxins. It’s really unavoidable. But having a diet low in fiber is not unavoidable. Increasing fiber will help the body in removing these toxins and hopefully help in preventing disease.
Those are only a few. If you are serious about your health and wellness it may make sense to challenge the things you do, to seek out more qualified information. There is a lot of information out there, a lot of ‘bro science’ which to me again is perpetuating the echo chamber. A good example is the JRE, the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast. Don’t get me wrong, I like Joe especially when it comes to Martial Arts as I don’t think there is a better colour commentator out there. But, when it comes to perpetuating misinformation I don’t think anyone reins greater than Joe. Too many times he has had guest on his show promoting Keto diet, Carnivore diet, low carb diet, carbs are bad, veganism unless done absolutely correctly will cause you health issues (veganism is more than just what you eat but yes, a ‘vegan’ diet should be done correctly but why is it always said veganism has to be done right where as a non vegan diet doesn’t?) His guests on his show spew out ‘facts’ from industry funded studies and no one challenges it. Thus more people end up harming their body, sometimes the effects not known until 20 years later and no one the wiser.
But I digress. Getting the results you want isn’t that hard, really. It takes a bit of work initially to find good sources with reliable, accurate information but once you do, it gets even easier. Book mark those sites and go back to see what else you can learn from them. After all, the choices you make are the choices you live with.
Yours in health,