6 Common Health Misconceptions

With the constant information overload from social media and the internet, it can be intimidating to know where to start when deciding to switch to a healthier lifestyle. Whether it’s for weight loss/gain, to manage your stress/anxiety since mid-terms are not too far away or simply because you are ready to feel more energized and active, be sure to be aware of the common misconceptions about health and the truth behind it.

Misconception #1: All Carbohydrates should be avoided when trying to lose weight

The Truth: Carbohydrates are so important and it’s simply not sustainable to cut out an entire food group. So let’s break it down, carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibres found in foods such as fruits and vegetables. They are the body’s main source of energy (which is necessary to knock out a killer workout, or even managing to get through an entire day at university). They are broken down into two main categories called simple and complex which are based on how quickly/slowly the body digests and absorbs the food’s nutrients. Simple carbs raise blood glucose levels quickly (for example, fruit) and complex carbs are starches which take longer to break down (leaving you full & satisfied for longer). So why are we meant to believe that it’s bad for us? Well, you get “good” and “bad” carbs. The “bad” complex carbs are carbs that leave you feeling full (and often bloated), but not satisfied due to its low nutritional content, these include foods such as bread and pasta. The “bad” simple carbs include sweets, chocolate, chips, etc. Good complex carbs include oatmeal, sweet potato, butternut and brown rice. Good simple carbs include dried fruit or fresh fruit. So to summarize, avoid the bad carbs which leave you feeling sluggish by rather opting for the good carbs.

Misconception #2: Weight training causes women to become “bulky”

The Truth: Women have low levels of testosterone so “bulking” cannot physically happen. More women are realizing the importance of weight training. Gone are the days of thinking that doing weights will cause bulky muscles and therefore, should be avoided. Weight training actually allows you to lose body fat faster as your metabolism increases. When your metabolism increases, you will instantly burn more calories throughout the day (that’s right, so when you exercise you instantly burn more calories if you were weight training than if you were not). Weight training not only strengthens your muscles but your bones too, therefore reducing the chance of injury as you become physically stronger. It also improves posture and builds lean muscle which improves how you look in your skinny jeans. So if you are wanting to feel like Wonder Woman and transform your health and entire body, weight training is a great addition to your workout plan!

Misconception #3: If you’re thin, you’re healthy and fit

The Truth: We all have that one friend that can eat anything they want and that never exercises (and often, it’s easy to compare ourselves to them), but if you’re thin, it definitely doesn’t mean that you’re healthy and fit. Everybody is different, due to our genetic makeup and lifestyle, it is easier for some of us to maintain our weight than others. Remember that being healthy looks different on everybody. If you are struggling to maintain your ideal weight, perhaps it’s time to try out a different exercise regime or find a diet that is sustainable in the long run that suits your dietary requirements and lifestyle. Or develop simple practices such as eating until you’re satisfied and not until you’re feeling full and sluggish, getting enough sleep and moving more (such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator). It is also advised to consult a medical practitioner if you continue to struggle with your weight.

Misconception #4: An hour at the gym is necessary to stay fit

The Truth: If our health is important to us, we will make the time to be healthy. But that does not mean we only have to spend an hour or more at the gym. Often, when life gets busy, we tend to prioritize our work, family or a quiet evening to catch up on series instead of getting our sweat on. We often lead ourselves to believe that if we don’t have access to the gym, we simply cannot exercise. Sometimes, a shorter workout is more effective than a longer one, this may even be a quick 10 minute walk. The key is consistency, so if you only have 15 minutes a day to exercise, no problem! Start walking more daily by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, doing the grocery shopping on foot, or if you have some time you could even jump squat up the stairs. Walking is a simple and effective way to stay fit, and it is one of the least heavy impact exercises out there. Incorporate some strength training by doing crunches and squats while catching up on your favourite series. This will get some blood pumping and improve your mood, coordination and balance (especially exercises that use your entire body such as squats or planks). This may sound too easy, but body resistance training is one of the most effective types of training out there (no wonder they say that whoever thinks a minute is quick has never done a plank before).

Misconception #5: If you want to lose weight, you need to eat less

The Truth: Naturally, some of us do have fast metabolisms causing us to be hungry more often, making this misconception one of the worst out there. If your goal is to lose weight, it’s definitely not a good idea to eat less as this is when your body requires more energy to burn calories which burns body fat. So what should you do instead? Increasing your cardiovascular exercise routine will ensure that you burn more calories and body fat, as well as, strengthen your heart and lungs. As mentioned above, weight training is also another effective way of burning more calories, however, if you don’t have access to a gym, effective body resistance training will do as well (using your body weight as resistance when working out, for example, push-ups). In addition, switching to wholesome, unprocessed and low-caloric foods, such as plenty of vegetables and fruit, a good source of protein (lean, unprocessed meats), healthy fats (avocados, nuts and seeds) & healthy carbs will not only help you lose weight, but also leave you feeling more energized, improve your digestion and reduce cellulite.

Misconception #6: A particular food causes weight gain

The truth: No particular food in isolation causes weight gain. What causes weight gain is a constant cycle of eating heavily processed foods such as pizzas, take outs and unhealthy snacks that are filled with sugar, such as chocolate. Having a sedentary lifestyle contributes to weight gain as well. What is more sustainable in the long run is having a well-balanced diet which mainly consists of wholesome foods and snacks, drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly, a good sleeping pattern and allowing yourself to give in to indulgent foods from time to time (knowing that it’s definitely okay because you eat well the majority of the time), this allows for a more balanced lifestyle.