Dispelling popular diet and exercise myths

Published 9:23 am Friday, April 5, 2013

Today, I’d like to dispel some rather popular myths with regard to diet and exercise. Following some of these will not only hinder progress, but tend to confuse you as well.

Myth No. 1: Don’t eat after 7 p.m. at night, because you’re usually just sitting around and the food you eat turns into fat. Remember, your gastrointestinal tract has to have ample blood flow for thorough digestion.

Now there’s another so-called myth you probably heard at some time in you life…” Don’t swim within an hour of eating, or you could catch a cramp.” I used to certify lifeguards, and  can tell you that’s true, because if you eat , then swim, blood pulls away from your GI tract to fuel your arms and legs, then digestion stops, and you could cramp.

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Now, what’s all that got to do with eating late at night? Well, suppose you ate right before bedtime, and you had no gastrointestinal issues like acid reflux or ulcers (with these you could possibly choke in your sleep). Once you go to bed, all you’re going to do is lay there, so your GI tract could get all the blood it needs for thorough digestion. There’s another benefit. During stage four, and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep your body is in a state of repair. Since you just ate, now you have all your body’s building blocks like vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and water available for organ, bone and muscle repair.

Myth No. 2: I can work my abdominal muscles every day. Remember, your abs tone and tighten just like any other skeletal muscle. Muscles don’t tone while you’re working them. They might feel tight while exercising, but that’s because they’re full of blood. Muscles actually tone 30 to 35 hours later, while you’re sleeping. Always work them last in your routine, and never work them to failure, because these muscles don’t attach to any joint, so you could produce a hernia.

Myth No. 3: Eating pizza is always bad for you, because it has no real nutrients. Although pizza toppings like pepperoni, sausage, bacon, ground beef and cheese contain saturated fats and cholesterol, and should be kept to a minimum, pizza is loaded with nutrients. Most pizza sauce contains lycopene, the veggies include vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, the meats are a great source of high quality protein, pizza cheeses have calcium and protein, and the crust is loaded with energy giving complex carbohydrates. Now I’m not suggesting you go out and order pizza every day, but if you’re health and weight conscience and you have pizza occasionally, enjoy.

Myth No. 4: Carrots are loaded with sugar. Did you know that a whole cup of chopped carrots contains just 52 calories and a mere 12g of carbohydrates? They also contain fiber and beta-carotene, which help control blood sugar levels. Carrots are also packed with “falcarinol,” a phyto-chemical shown to protect against colon cancer.