10 diets and exercise myths

here, 10 of the most pervasive diet-related rumors and the real scoop on how to hit your goal weight for good.

1. “Strength training will bulk me up.”

Muscle weight is a good weight because you look firmer, smaller, and more fit. It’s also more metabolically active, so just having more muscle will boost metabolism throughout the day to help keep you leaner.

It’s important to incorporate strength training into your routine so you burn calories at an optimal rate all day long- and using heavier weights could help maximize your efforts. Working out with heavy weights even for as few as 3 to 6 repetitions increased exercisers’ sleeping metabolic rate – the number of calories burned overnight – by nearly 8%.

2. “I exercise every day, so I can eat whatever I want

Even if you work out religiously, it’s not a license to eat as much as you want and still expect to lose weight.

Even though you burn calories and fat when you exercise, it’s often not as much as you think – or what the readout on the treadmill tells you.

Valentour recommends eating 250 fewer calories per day and aiming to burn an extra 250 calories a day; that creates enough of a calorie deficit to achieve an average weight loss of a pound a week.

3. “It’s harder for women to lose weight than for men

Biologically, men are built with more lean muscle mass (the compact, tight muscles that keep metabolism humming) than women are – meaning his metabolism is working at a 5 to 10% higher rate.

Another biological challenge women face is that we generally have more body fat than men do, and our bodies are more inclined to store it. On top of that, women lose about 1/2 pound of calorie-burning muscle mass a year during perimenopause and sometimes a pound a year during menopause.

You can do something about these problems, but it’s going to take some work – and sweat. Add strength training to your fitness routine at least twice a week to shed fat and build lean muscle mass that will fire up your resting metabolism.

4. “All calories are equal, so it doesn’t matter what I eat

Some foods take more work to eat – and therefore burn more calories while you’re digesting them. Just the act of chewing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean cuts of meat can increase your calorie burn by up to 30%! And then your stomach and intestines do their jobs.

Women who ate the foods that required the most work had significantly slimmer waistlines than those who ate the softest, easiest-to-eat foods. The fiber and protein in such foods take so much effort to digest that your body ’doesn’t absorb some of their calories.

5. “Eating fat will make me fat

Getting enough fat in your diet is essential for good health, but the type of fat matters.

Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) come from the healthy oils found in plant foods such as olives, nuts, and avocados. A MUFA-rich diet helped people lose small amounts of weight and body fat without changing their calorie intakes. A breakfast high in MUFAs could boost calorie burn for 5 hours after the meal, particularly in people with higher amounts of belly fat. Pair these delicious healthy fats with a reduced-calorie eating plan and you’ll lose weight and reduce belly fat.

6. “Eating at night will make me gain weight.”

It’s mainly how much you eat – not when you eat – each day that affects weight gain. Many people eat at night out of boredom or other emotions instead of hunger, and they wind up consuming more calories than they need for the day – calories that are then stored as fat. Also, people who eat at night may wake up without an appetite and skip breakfast, the meal that helps control calorie intake throughout the day.

To ward off nighttime hunger, eat dinner an hour later, but at least 2 hours before sleeping – helps prevent mindless snacking, which often happens in the evening.

7. “Drinking a ton of water will help me drop pounds

It’s possible that drinking water can aid weight loss efforts, but it won’t automatically make you lose weight if you’re not changing any other habits. If you sip water instead of sugary drinks, the calories you’ve saved will help shed pounds.

Drinking ice-cold water can help you burn more calories too. 6 cups of cold water a day raised resting metabolism by about 50 calories daily – possibly because of the work it takes to warm the fluid up to body temperature. It’s up to you to decide whether 50 calories is worth guzzling ice water – or whether it would be easier just to take the stairs.

8. “Becoming a vegetarian will help me drop a size

Eliminating meat from your diet can result in great health benefits, but if you don’t follow a vegetarian diet properly, you could accidentally pack on pounds. Common vegetarian beginners’ mistakes that may cause weight gain. Vegetarian “types” to avoid becoming:

  • Cheese-aholic vegetarians:
    They cut out meat from their diets and turn to cheese as a protein source. But cheese is a high-calorie, high-fat food and should be eaten in moderation.
  • Faux-meat fixators:
    All they eat is boxes of frozen faux meats, such as soy chicken nuggets, vegetarian sausage links, and veggie bacon strips. These products are okay once in a while, but they are heavily processed and can have a lot of sodium, resulting in bloating and water retention.
  • No-veggie vegetarians:
    A lot of vegetarians don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. They eat only grains, beans and veggie burgers, all of which can be high in calories.
  • Same-meal-minus-the-meat vegetarians:
    These people eat the same meals they did before, but without the meat. If they’re not replacing the protein, they’ll probably have a ferocious appetite and may be missing out on essential nutrients.
  • “Vegetarian” food label fans:
    These people find any recipe or packaging that contains the word “vegetarian” or “meatless” and then overeat that food. They often wind up taking in too much junk food. Be aware that the word “vegetarian” is not synonymous with “healthy” or “low calorie.”

Replace meat with beans in recipes for an easy, healthy protein source. Start having fun with vegetarian recipes. Find ones you like that you’re going to keep eating.

9. “Subbing diet soda and diet foods is a smart way to lose

Chugging cans of diet soda and eating prepackaged diet foods is not going to give you lasting results.

Diet soda may increase your risk of metabolic syndrome, a group of symptoms that includes high levels of belly fat, blood sugar, and cholesterol. People who consumed just one diet soda daily had a 34% higher risk of the syndrome than those who abstained.

What you’re trying to do when you eat diet foods and drink diet soda is to cheat your body. The body is physiologically smarter than your ability to override it.

Choose the best-quality foods available. The diet versions will have fewer calories than the quality versions, but they’ll also have fewer nutrients.

10. “Weight gain and belly fat are unavoidable after 40

It does get harder to lose weight as we age, but you can put some healthy habits into practice now to maintain your weight – or even lose – as the years pass by.

The years leading up to menopause, known as perimenopause, are prime time for weight gain: On average, women put on a pound a year, mostly around the waist. Out-of-whack hormones and a slowing metabolism are a couple of the weight gain culprits.

But reaching menopause doesn’t have to mean getting plumper. The more you work out, the slimmer you’ll be, even during this transition time. Keep your diet in check and you’ll boost your results.

Fine-tune your workouts and eating habits to shed those pounds – and keep ’em off – with these tips. Exercise at least 4 hours a week: That amount helped nearly 44,000 women in their 40s or early 50s achieve weight loss instead of weight gain during a 10-year American Cancer Society study. Try this essential over-40 workout:

  • Crank it up for 10 minutes a day: In a Kaiser Permanente study, a similar group of women who exercised vigorously (by jogging, for instance) for 10 or more minutes a day had waistlines nearly 6 inches smaller than those of women who didn’t raise their heart rates that high.
  • Lift weights: Two or three sessions a week can help stave off age-related muscle loss, which slows your metabolism.
  • Skip the refined carbs: Women whose diets were high in whole grains and fiber gained less weight than those who ate more sugar and white flour, reports a Danish study.

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read article on Yahoo! Shine by The Editors of Prevention: 10 diet and exercise myths that pack on pounds

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