The world of wellness is a pretty confusing place. We’re constantly bombarded with mixed messages. We should be eating salads, we should be juicing, it’s okay to eat what you want as long as you exercise, abs are made in the kitchen…With so much conflicting advice it can be easy to become overwhelmed. The average person, who has no wellness industry knowledge, just wants to be told what they need to do to achieve the results they want. Unfortunately, we get given jarring information about the workouts we need to do and the food we need to eat. It’s time to bust some myths and set some things straight…
You may not have heard of the term, but the chances are you’ve tried it. Spot reduction refers to the targeting of fat that you want to reduce. The idea is we target our bingo wings, for example, and try and do targeted workouts to achieve specific muscles in this desired area.
The truth? Overwhelmingly science has proved this to be a farce. It simply isn’t possible to reduce fat in a specific area by exercising that body part in isolation. What actually happens is that fat is shed from the body as a whole through diet and frequent exercise. When muscles do grow that doesn’t necessarily equate to a reduction in fat. For instance, you may have muscle growth in the abdominal region but a calorie deficit is required for reducing fat. This huge misunderstanding about how to shift fat is capitalized on by advertising campaigns which promise to get rid of fat in certain areas.
It’s easy to see how this misconception came about. The growth of muscle does have a firming and shaping effect. Don’t mistake this for a loss of fat. As mentioned above, and in a post by Erny Peibst on the same matter, the only way to lose fat is by having a calorie deficit. This means that the calories you consume need to be smaller than the calories you burn. The only way to reduce fat in specific areas is to have liposuction.
There are some pretty big myths out there concerning abs that some fitness fanatics swear by. The common consensus with people at the gym is that crunches are the way to go to get abs. You may do a serious amount of sit-ups and planks, but researchers and scientists beg to differ.
Crunches alone simply don’t give you abs.Not only that, but they can actually damage our spines too. The movement of doing a crunch puts excessive strain on our backs, and there are more effective ways to get that 6 pack. Toned abs can be achieved by doing a combination of interval training mixed with a great lifestyle. Eating correctly is a big part of getting abs. As discussed above, doing crunches alone will enhance your muscle but it cannot burn enough calories to lose the fat obscuring your stomach muscles. Once again, it’s about building muscle and eating a diet which has fewer calories than what you burn exercising.
HIIT training became really popular a few years ago. It’s easy to see why. It promised to transform bodies in a fraction of the time a normal gym session takes. This instantly appealed to those who are strapped for time but want a great body. It was seen as the easy approach to getting fit fast… very fast! The idea is to move from exercise to exercise with short breaks in between. Whilst doing the exercises there should be an explosion of effort as you push yourself as hard as you can. The idea is that you continue to burn fat even after you’ve stopped exercising.
Whilst HIIT training works for some there are some serious downfalls. Firstly, it really isn’t suitable for everybody. It’s marketed as a quick way for anyone to get fit, especially those fitting it in around work. It’s true that the workouts are short but they are also incredibly damaging. If you aren’t used to going to the gym or doing high-intensity interval training, the chances are this isn’t for you. Pushing our bodies this hard for four-plus minutes is a sure-fire way for novices to get injured. It places a huge amount of strain on our bodies. Plus, despite its claims, it isn’t a one-stop-shop. Even if you do take part in HIIT training you still need to make time for aerobic activities like swimming, walking, and running. These are lower intensity activities, but we really should be doing both. One simply sets the groundwork for the other.
Eating good protein and fiber, like chicken and oats, will always be better than substituting meals. Protein bars shakes, and even juices have all been touted as the perfect meal replacement for people looking to lose weight. This just isn’t the case. Firstly, protein bars are actually highly processed. What that means is that they need much fewer calories to be digested, so the benefits are lessened. Proteins bars are essentials snacks, and unless you make them yourself, processed ones should be a treat.
Substituting meals for juices and shakes, first and foremost, isn’t a lifestyle change and it’s not something that’s sustainable. In effect, you are starving your body. Shakes simply do not provide the body with all of the nutritional components that it needs. We need the nutrients found in food to protect and strengthen our bodies internally. The only weight to lose weight long-term is to make a lifestyle change. Crash dieting won’t work, and that’s exactly what meal replacement is. Eventually, you’ll have to start eating food again, and when you do you could gain weight again.
Fruit has a confusing image at the moment. On one hand, there are die-hard fans who say it’s the ultimate healthy food snack. On the other hand, some people are concerned about the amount of sugar that’s found in fruit. Firstly, just like any food, fruit can make you fat. Eating a lot of it can cause bloating plus fruit is full of easily accessible carbs. What that means is that when we eat fruit were signaling to our bodies to stop burning body fat for fuel.
There are, however, so many benefits of fruit, and these are all true. For starters, fruit is full of antioxidants which help our bodies and our skin. Antioxidants help to defend our cells which can result is less fine lines, plumper skin, and increased elasticity.
Stretching has long been seen as essential before any exercise takes place. It’s a way to wake up our bodies and protect us from injury. It also can increase our coordination and flexibility. We’ve all been taught the same static style of stretching. This is where we stand stock still whilst stretching various parts of our body. Quite recently new information came out saying that this was not, in fact, the best way to stretch. These studies instead put forward dynamic stretching as a better alternative. Basically stretching with movement. So which is better?
Dynamic stretches are stretches which take place whilst our bodies are moving. The idea behind this is to warm up and prepare our muscles for exercise. This has always been a known fact, that muscles should be warmed up and prepped pre-exercise. Dynamic stretching, however, trumps static stretching in this regard. It increases our muscles core temperatures whereas static stretching can make the temperature drop. Therefore after dynamic stretching, we will not only feel loose and stretched, but be more powerful and elastic too.
Another great thing about dynamic stretching is that it’s particularly relevant to sport. Our bodies need to be prepared for the intensity of exercise we’re about to take part in. Dynamic exercise will help keep us limber but also, crucially, prepare us for different types of movement. Static stretching will loosen muscles but it doesn’t prepare us for the intensity of the exercise. Static stretching is usually recommended for a warm down. This is because it is more relaxing than a dynamic warm up. Finally, dynamic stretching can also improve the motion around our joints. This will help us to perform better and increase flexibility, as well as reduce the risk of injury.