Maximising your health, burning fat and building muscle is no easy task. It becomes even more complicated to reach your health and fitness goals if you're misinformed and fed information that can actually hinder your progress. Here are three diet myths that could be holding you back from achieving the body you want.
Myth #1 - "Zero carb diets are best for fat loss."
The whole 'zero carb' diet thing has become very out-dated after the discovery that carbs are actually important and that there is a rebound effect after extreme dieting. Depriving your body of carbohydrates for long periods of time will result in two things.
Firstly, your energy levels will take a dramatic hit. Carbs are your body's main fuel source during intense exercise, cutting them out completely is like trying to drive your car with no fuel; there will be nothing in the tank. Your workouts will suffer, resulting in fewer calories burned, therefore diminishing your fat loss efforts.
Another thing you need to be aware of is 'the rebound effect'. Going on a zero carb diet will cause you to lose a lot weight very quickly, losing body fat but also water, glycogen (stored energy in muscles) and lean muscle tissue (which is not optimal for health).
The moment you decide to start introducing carbs again you will see an unprecedented amount of weight gain on scales. Why? You'll have some weight gain due to water being retained alongside glycogen but body fat will also be stored. After long periods of time with no carbs your body builds up sensitivity, meaning it will only be able to handle very few carbs initially. Pilling in the carbs will therefore put your body into shock, not knowing how to cope with what feels like an abundance of carbs, it stores them elsewhere as body fat.
The Solution: If your goal is to drop body fat then start by making a small reduction to your carbs, there's no need for dramatic zero carb approaches. The quicker you lose weight, the faster it will go back on so aim for a steady fat loss.
Myth #2 - "Eat small and often to boost your metabolism."
Once upon a time I believed this to be true too, it sounds like a piece of advice that makes logical sense however, the truth is it doesn't make a single bit of difference if you eat two meals per day or eight. A reduction in body fat will be the result of a caloric deficit; burning more calories than you're consuming.
For example, you are currently eating a balanced diet consuming 2,000 kcals per day and dropping fat at a steady rate of 1lb per week. You chose to eat small, more frequent meals resulting in six meals per day; eating just over 330kcals per meal. On the flip side say you have a hectic schedule one day and can only eat two 1,000kcal meals, both will result in the same caloric intake and not make the single difference to your fat loss efforts.
The Solution: Eat as many or as few meals as you want. If your time is limiting you then it is ok to have just a couple meals per day and still get the results you want so long as you maintain the calorie intake needed by your body.
Myth #3 - "Don't eat carbs after 8pm or they'll store as fat."
Another myth that I would have believed several years ago, thinking that it made logical sense...
'As you become less active in the evening you should cut your carbs or they'll simply store as body fat, due to being inactive.'
This is quite typical advice from those uneducated about the truth about carbs and calories. As I mentioned in myth #1, carbs are stored as glycogen in the muscles ready to be used as energy. Having them in the morning, daytime or evening is almost irrelevant as long as you eat a consistent amount each day.
For example, say you typically consume 200g carbs per day. One day you have a light breakfast; some eggs and spinach, a tuna salad for lunch and then you get back home at 8pm. If you've only consumed 40g carbs in the day then you're still allowed to eat another 160g before the end of the day to meet your carb quota. Will this cause you to gain fat? No, it's within your caloric needs. You'll only gain body fat with an overconsumption of total calories.
The solution: Eat your carbs at whatever time suits you and at the times that you enjoy eating them. For most it tends to be later in the evening when the carb cravings creep in.
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