Exercise increases strength and overall health

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

Many misconceptions exist related to diet and exercise, which can lead to confusion along with wasted time and energy. A big part of sorting fact from fiction is to look toward science, rather than being influenced by marketing or opinion.

Some of the most common questions I receive that are more myth than reality-based, include:

  • If I eat more protein, I will lose weight and put on more muscle. I am not sure where this idea came from, but it seems to persist as we are bombarded with messages to consume a high protein diet. A closer look at the science is clear, the body can utilize only a certain amount of any macronutrient, be it protein, carbohydrate, or fat. Go above this amount for individual energy needs and weight will be gained, along with the potential for other problems as the body tries to deal with the overflow. Excess protein is converted to glucose, and then to body fat if glucose needs have already been met. Weight loss is best achieved through daily positive lifestyle habits, which include exercise, and limiting calories to those that your body needs to maintain great health. What is right for you can be determined by seeking help from a licensed professional such as a registered dietician.
  • If I keep doing abdominal exercises I will reduce the size of my waist. The truth here goes back to points already made, that is, excesses of food in any form, and lack of appropriate amounts of activity, result in excess body fat accumulation, usually seen as an expanding midsection. The reason to perform abdominal exercises are to strengthen the muscles, which help to support the trunk and improve posture.
  • I avoid carbohydrates because they are unhealthy. A good reminder here is that the leanest people on earth regularly consume carbohydrates. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lentils and legumes contain fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, feeding your mind and body a steady stream of essential nutrients throughout the day. Carbohydrates are the body’s main energy source and are necessary for proper functioning. Where we get into trouble is when we veer away from natural carbs to highly processed ones, which do little in terms of supporting goals.
  • I’m too old to start an exercise program. This idea is disproven by numerous studies where individuals of advanced age are given resistance exercises. Outcomes include increased strength, improved bone health and better overall functioning. Instead of thinking it’s too late, remember that we must use it or we will lose it, and this applies to any age group. Muscle and bone require force to be put upon them in order to maintain strength. To put it in simple terms, if the body can move, it is able to exercise. As always, safety is number one when exercising. Have a conversation with your doctor about what exercises are right for you, and then consult with a certified personal trainer if in need of proper instruction.

Marjie Gilliam is an International Sports Sciences Master certified personal trainer and fitness consultant. She owns Custom Fitness Personal Training Services LLC. Send email to marjie@ohtrainer.com.

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