Food fuels your body, and exercise keeps it fit, firm and ready. It’s obvious to say nutrition and fitness are important, but the real goal is to nourish and challenge your body efficiently and appropriately. Avoid wasting time in the gym and in your pantry by sidestepping these 12 common myths.
Myth #1: You should eat carbohydrates before you exercise.
The thought here is to provide your body with fuel to burn prior to your workout. The problem is that carbs break down into sugar, causing the hormones insulin and cortisol to spike in your body. This pair of stress hormones promotes fat storage and can hinder your post-exercise recovery. Instead, try getting your sweat on after eating only a light snack—or nothing, if possible—to prevent hunger pangs.
Myth #2: You should focus on cardio for maximum caloric burn.
Running, cycling and stair-stepping increase your heart rate and make you sweat, but they don’t initiate excess post oxygen consumption—the afterburn effect— which can boost your metabolism for up to 36 hours after your workout. High intensity, short duration exercise causes your metabolic rate to hit a higher ceiling than traditional cardio, and it takes much longer for your metabolic rate to taper back down.
Skip the treadmill and try running in place (stay on the balls of your feet). Go hard for 20 seconds, then rest for 20 seconds. Repeat this three times and evaluate your condition. You will feel your heart thumping.
Myth #3: You should always rest between exercises.
Too much rest between sets can sabotage your results. Exercise is designed to fatigue you. Take breaths as necessary, but don’t gravitate to the water fountain for chit-chat. The aerobic benefits of weight training are undervalued. Try lifting a weight for time rather than repetitions. Don’t sacrifice your form, but lessen the down time between sets to feel the cardiovascular effect.
Myth #4: You can eat anything if you exercise.
Not even close. A medium Burger King Whopper value meal with fries and a Coke contains 1,370 calories. It takes less than 15 minutes to eat. According to Harvard Health publications, that’s the equivalent of almost 3.5 hours on an elliptical for a 185-lb. person, or more than five hours for a 125-lb. person.
Poor dietary choices, as well as drinking alcohol and smoking, can offset and even derail strong exercise habits. Exercise stimulates your metabolism, and the extra energy output stimulates your appetite. Effective and efficient exercise must be fueled with the correct nutrients to yield the best results.
Myth #5: There is no best time of day to exercise.
All exercise is helpful, but you will notice the greatest gains if you kick-start your day with a morning workout. Human growth hormone (HGh), a muscle building and fat-burning hormone that occurs naturally in the body, has been shown to spike from 5:00-8:00 a.m. Working out as this hormone peaks can maximize your ability to build lean muscle and metabolize fat. Despite the bad press for synthetic HGh, naturally occurring HGh is good to have on your side.