Hocus Pocus Health Myths

Over the years, there have been many statements made to me about nutrition and exercise that are only not true, but sometimes, mind blowing illogical. I can understand why there are so many misconceptions out there, with such a plethora of information not only on the web, but also from the numerous “experts” touting their beliefs as science. It’s frustrating for me, as losing weight and getting in shape is hard enough without following incorrect information. I hate seeing so many people mislead by ridiculous tips and tricks. Below you will find a healthy mix of some of the craziest claims people have made to me, along with some of the more common myths.

  • Adding lemon to your water makes your body recognize that water as food and digests it as such.

Wait…WHAT??? A girl who runs marathons and is an avid yoga practitioner said this to me. True story. I don’t even think I had a response, because I was so stunned. This is one of those mind blowing illogical statements of which I previously wrote. While there are some health benefits of adding lemon to your drinking water, in no way does it magically convert water to food. Some things lemon water can do are:

Aid in digestion: Lemon water helps flush out toxins in your system. Lemons are high in vitamins and minerals, which help loosen toxins in the digestive tract.

Act as a diuretic: Lemon juice increases the rate of urination in the body, and therefore acts a wonderful and natural diuretic.

May help with weight loss: I don’t want to overstate this benefit, but lemons are high in pectin fiber, which helps fight hunger cravings.

  • Bananas make you gain belly fat.

There are a couple of problems with this statement. First, food doesn’t get into your body and then make a decision about where it’s going to add fat. If you are more prone to gaining weight in your stomach than other areas, that’s a genetic issue, not the bananas you ate deciding where they want to live. Secondly, what is the logic behind the particular fruit banana? Why not an apple? Or an orange? A piece of fruit is a piece of fruit. Yes, some of them are higher in sugars or contain different vitamins and antioxidants and have different calories, but if you’re overeating any food, you are going to gain weight. Fruits are a natural food grown from the earth that when consumed in moderate amounts, are a great addition to any eating plan.

  • Swimming makes you curvy; the water carves out your physique as it glides across your body.

Let your imagination take you to what my face might have looked like in response to this. With no words coming from my mouth, the guy said, “You don’t think so?” Um, no, I don’t. Not because I have any real knowledge on physics or the implications of water against a human body, but because I have a brain and that makes zero sense. Let me tell you some things swimming does do:

It’s great for low impact exercise
It can build cardio-vascular endurance
It’s a great way to get or stay in shape if you’re nursing an injury, particular in your lower extremities
It’s an enjoyable exercise to do outside

But if you’re thinking that the water itself is going to slim your waistline and give you curvier look, not happening.

  • You must eat low carb in order to lose weight.

Ah, this one is an oldie but a goodie and was repeated me to me for the one millionth time last weekend, while of course giving advice to someone else. And that’s the problem with these ideas; people share them with others or tell others and so on and so forth and now, as with this myth, half the world believes that they must eat low carb in order to lose weight.

You know what works? Finding something that you can stick to on a consistent basis and making sure you aren’t exceeding your recommended caloric intake on that plan. You can eat zero carbs, but if you’re eating 3000 calories a day in fat and protein, you’re going to gain weight. It’s perfectly possible to lose weight without cutting out all your carbs. Now, in my experience, I can shed body fat much quicker on a non-carb diet. However, the restriction isn’t fun and ultimately I end up gaining the weight back. Taking a moderate approach and finding something that works for you is the way to go.

  • You must eat low fat in order to lose weight.

No you don’t. But if eating a diet low in fat is something you enjoy and something you personally see results from, then go for it. But something to consider is that a lot of foods that are low fat have replaced that fat content with sugar, so many times, it’s not actually a better choice. Avocados, almond butter and olive oil are just a few of the fat heavy foods you can eat and still lose weight.

  • Tonic water and soda water are the same thing.

Why oh why? Do they taste remotely the same? Does one have a bunch of zeros on the label while the other does not? Soda water is artificially carbonated water to which some sodium or potassium salts have been added. While tonic water is made with water, its other ingredients include high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, sodium benzoate and quinine (which gives it its bitter flavor). With the sugar added to tonic water, I don’t recommend it. Stick with soda water and if you need some flavor, add just a splash of juice.

  • Lifting weights makes you bulky.

My hairdresser recently said to me, “I don’t work out because it makes me bulky.” I believe that she is mistaking bulky for having muscle tone, which are two very different things. Being firm looks and feels great. If you like the waif look and feel, then definitely, do cardio until your hearts content and don’t dare pick up a weight (or stick to the pink ones). But if you want to have a shapely rear end or toned arms, the only way to get them is by lifting a decent amount of weight. I can’t say what a “decent” amount is for you, but you should aim for 15-20 reps and have enough weight that you are burning and struggling through the last few. The only way to change the shape of your body is through weight training. And the only way you’re going to get bulky is if you’re seriously committed to doing so by eating a ton of protein, weight training five days a week, and doing so much weight that you can only make it to five or so repetitions.

  • Tequila burns fat.

If ever there were one that I wish were true, this would be it. My favorite tequila-drinking partner couldn’t wait to tell me the news but unfortunately, I had to break her little heart. This rumor started because of a study that was published in 2014 about the effect of agavina, a sugar that comes from the agave plant used to produce tequila. This sugar is non-digestible and does not raise blood glucose level. It was given to mice and the bottom line is that the mice lost weight. Tequila was not given to the mice. The sugar that is found in the agave plant that makes tequila is what was given to the mice. It’s sad that a study such as this one is published and then every headline on the news and Internet reads, “Drink tequila to lose weight!” Get a grip.

  • You have to do a ton of crunches to get abs.

Listen, I don’t want to poo poo on your crunch parade, but you may be wasting your time, if you’re hoping all those sit-ups are going to get you the stomach of your dreams. While doing sit-ups are great for strengthening your core and burning calories, ultimately, the only way you’re going to be able to see that six-pack is to get the fat off the muscle. And to do that, you need to eat right to lose body fat. No amount of crunches can undo a pint of ice cream.

Hopefully I haven’t destroyed your world with any of these myths. There’s so many out there, that I’m sure I will have many more to write about. If you have one that you think is laughable, or that you’re curious about, tweet me or send me an email. I love your feedback!

Photo credit: Rafee

Lea Waide

Lea is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of BeyondThirty.net.  She is a former professional dancer and IFBB fitness competitor, triathlete and all around fitness and beauty aficionado. Her passion is sharing her knowledge with women beyond the age of thirty, who are looking to continue to feel beautiful and fabulous.

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