Healthy living is tough, especially with the amount of misleading myths and products that surround the industry. These facts might not be encouraging, but you need to know them if you are serious about living healthily. Here are the top five health facts you don't want to hear.
There is no quick fix
Nowadays we are constantly bombarded with promises from the next big thing in fad dieting, with claims of 'instant results' or 'dropping pounds overnight'. As much as we'd like these boasts to be true, they sadly aren't at all. Studies actually show that fad diets result in weight gain. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the majority of participants who went through fad diets instantly gained weight following the diet due to lowered levels of the hunger suppressing hormones peptide YY and leptin.
Science aside, ask yourself this - are you really going to keep up with those ridiculous eating habits in the long term? Diets with such severe results are 99 per cent of the time completely unrealistic, and the sooner you accept that the sooner you'll start learning healthy eating habits that actually work.
Exercising doesn't mean you can eat what you like
Whilst it's true that exercising frequently means you can enjoy the odd guilt-free treat once in a while, it should by no means be an excuse to eat to excess. In half an hour of running the average person will burn around 250 calories. You can eat the equivalent amount in any range of snacks in a matter of minutes. You'll notice these time scales don't balance out, so if you continue to eat unhealthily you'll soon find that the effects of exercise simply can't keep up.
A simple way of avoiding this temptation is by counting the calories you burn and consume. Once you see how much effort you have to put in to burn off even small snacks, you'll realise exercising isn't a free pass to stuff your face with junk.
'Health foods' can be unhealthy
Many supposedly 'healthy' foods aren't quite what they're made out to be. For example, if it claims to be fat free it's probably packed with sugar. Sugar free? You can bet it'll be full of artificial sweeteners. Take cereal bars as an example. This popular 'healthy' breakfast choice can contain around four teaspoons of sugar per bar, as well as high amounts of saturated fat. A survey conducted by consumer magazine Which? showed that an alarming 97 per cent of cereal bars on the market contain added sugar.
Drinks aren't much better either. 'Diet', 'light' and 'sugar free' versions of your favourite drink can seem like a great healthy alternative, but according to a study conducted at the Texas Health Science Center, people who frequently consume diet drinks are 41 per cent more likely to be overweight. It's thought that this is because the concoction of artificial flavourings and sweeteners found in these drinks can spark the appetite, whilst simultaneously inhibiting the brain cells that tell your body it's full.
You can't target an area of your body to lose weight
'Spot training', as it's often called, is a health myth that sadly isn't true. Losing weight on a particular part of your body with targeted training is not a realistic goal. Yes, that's why those thousands of crunches you've been doing haven't dented your beer belly. There are plenty of studies that have proven this to be the case, including one carried out at the University of Massachusetts. Participants who 'targeted' their stomachs by only doing abdomen exercises were found to lose weight equally across their abdomens, upper backs and buttocks.
Instead of worrying about a certain target area when you work out, you should focus on losing weight all over your body. That means there's no way of quickly ditching that flabby stomach other than good old-fashioned exercise and healthy eating.
Fruit and veg aren't what they used to be
It's a well-known fact that eating fruit and vegetables is a great way of keeping your diet healthy and nutritious. But did you know the fruit and veg available today isn't as healthy as it once was? Go back just 50 years and you'd find fruit that is higher in six major nutrients including protein, calcium, iron and Vitamin C. This was revealed in a study at the University of Texas, with some modern-day fruits seeing as much as a 38% reduction in certain nutrients.
The researchers put this down to modern farming methods, including hybrid breeding of crops to make them larger, and the range of pesticides being used which have stripped some of the nutrients from soil. However, fruit and veg are still a great source of nutrition in your diet, so until a time machine is invented you'll just have to make do with what we have available today.
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