Popular diet and exercise myths

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, March 16, 2017

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 #1: Don’t eat after 7 p.m. because you’re usually just sitting around and the food you eat turns to fat.

Remember, your gastrointestinal tract has to have ample blood flow for thorough digestion.

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Here’s another so-called myth you probably heard at some time in your life: Don’t swim within an hour of eating, or you could catch a cramp. I used to certify lifeguards, and I can tell you that saying is true, because if you eat, then swim, blood pulls away from the gastrointestinal tract to fuel your arm and leg movements, then digestion slows, and you could cramp.

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’re in bed, all you’re going to do is lay there, so your GI tract can get all the blood necessary for thorough digestion.

Here’s another benefit. During stage four and REM (deep) sleep, your body is in a state of repair. Since you’ve just eaten, you now have all you body’s building blocks like vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and water available for organ, bone, and muscle repair.

Myth #2: I should work my abdominal muscles, or abs, every day.

Remember, your abs tone and tighten just like any other skeletal muscle. Muscles don’t tone and tighten while you’re working them. They may feel tight while working out, but that’s because they are gorged with blood. Muscles actually become more shapely and stronger hours after a workout, while you sleep.

Two more strategies when exercising abs: Always work them last in your routine and never work them to failure, because these muscles don’t attach to any joint, so working them to failure could result in a hernia. 

Myth #3: Eating pizza is always bad for you, because it has no nutrients.

Although pizza toppings like pepperoni, sausage, bacon, ground beef, and cheeses contain saturated fats and cholesterol, which should be kept to a minimum, pizza is actually loaded with nutrients.

Most pizza sauce contains lycopene (from tomatoes). The veggie toppings include vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fiber. Meat toppings are great sources of high quality protein. Pizza cheeses include both calcium and protein and the crust is loaded with energygiving complex carbohydrates.

I’m not suggesting you go out and order pizza every day, but if you’re health and weight conscience and you choose pizza occasionally, enjoy.

Myth #4: Carrots are loaded with sugar.

Did you know that a whole cup of chopped carrots contains just 52 calories and a mere 12 grams of carbohydrates (sugars)? They also contain fiber and beta-carotene (a form of vitamin A), which helps control blood sugar levels. Carrots are also packed with falcarinol, a phyo-chemical shown to protect against colon cancer.

Myth #5: Celery has no health benefits.

Celery is loaded with a combination of disease-preventing vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. It contains pthalides, which are compounds that help lower blood pressure by relaxing artery walls. Celery also contains apigenin, a phyochemical that helps protect against cancers.

Myth #6: Iceberg lettuce has no nutrients.

While it’s true darker varieties have more, don’t give up on this lettuce. It’s good for bones, because one cup provides 20 percent of your daily dose of vitamin K. Iceberg lettuce is good for your eyes, too, because one cup provides 15 percent of your daily dose of vitamin A. Remember, any lettuce that keeps you eating salads is worthy of serious consideration.

Diet or exercise question? Email me at dwcrocker77@gmail.com. David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 29 years. He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the USC Upstate baseball team, South Carolina state champion girls gymnastic team, and the Converse College equestrian team. He served as a water safety instructor to the United States Marine Corps, lead trainer to L.H. Fields modeling agency, and taught for four semesters at USC Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.