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5 Food and Workout Myths

Posted Feb 16 2011 1:02pm

While I was surfing around the internet this morning, I stumbled upon this article from The Food Network Blog that I wanted share my thoughts on.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – diet and exercise go hand in hand for a healthy lifestyle. As a fitness expert, I am constantly hearing inaccurate information about food and exercise. Here are a few of the most common myths and the facts to help get things straight.

Cherry red summer apple isolated on white

Myth 1: If you exercise, you need to take in massive amounts of protein.
While protein is extremely important for growth, hormone production, and muscle health, there’s such thing as too much. An average of about 20 percent of total daily calories from protein is a good target for most active adults. Get the facts from our previous protein post .

Myth 2: It’s best to work out on an empty stomach.
While it seems like it makes sense, working out on an empty stomach is the last thing you should do. Where’s the energy for the workout going to come from without food? The best food option will depend on when you typically exercise. If you have 3 or 4 hours before a workout, eat a regular, balanced meal. If you work out first thing in the morning or it’s been more than 4 hours since your last meal, go for a small snack made up of mostly easily digestible carbohydrates like a banana, a nonfat yogurt, or a low-fat granola bar. These foods will give you quick energy and won’t upset your stomach during exercise.

Myth 3: Certain foods “burn fat.”
As great as it sounds, specific foods don’t have the power to melt away fat. Regular exercise, frequent meals and a balanced healthy diet are the best ways to keep your muscles toned and metabolism going strong.

Myth 4: Protein shakes are the best way to get protein.
Too many active folks make the mistake of believing that fancy protein powders are a must. Many of these supplements (that’s really what they are) are pricey, too high in protein (see myth #1) and loaded with potentially dangerous ingredients. Not to mention, nutrients like protein are always absorbed better from food. A plain whey or soy-based shake here and there is fine, but pay attention to the extra calories, drink them post-workout, and have no more than one per day unless you have specialized needs.

Myth 5: You need to use electrolyte beverages like vitamin-enhanced drinks or coconut water to hydrate.
Enhanced waters and sports drinks made our list of Healthy Foods to Skip and though coconut water is super-trendy nowadays, it isn’t worth the extra cost (read our full analysis of coconut water ). Long duration activities and hot weather may call for the occasional sports drink, but for the most part, you are better off sticking with good old H20.

When it comes to staying healthy, most Americans tend to believe in every “fad” that they read. I work in a gym, so I’ve seen just about everything. For the record, you don’t need gatorade if you are walking on the treadmill ;)

Myth 1

Compared to most Americans, I would actually consider my diet low in protein, but this doesn’t mean that I’m not getting adequate amounts. Although I’m not a vegetarian, my diet is not based on eating meat or animal products. When I cook a meal (except burgers ), I like to incorporate meat as a side dish or as a flavoring agent. Eating a 12 oz hunk of steak is the sure fire way to a stomach ache!

I’m not a dietician, but you don’t need massive amounts of protein. Even as an athlete, my diet is based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and heart healthy fats. I am a total fat snob. Hello peanut butter!

As a rule of thumb, you should aim for 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (1 kg = 2.2 pounds). If you are 140 pounds, ~51 grams of protein (most 3 oz servings of meat contain ~20 g protein) would be adequate. This amount of protein is sufficient for recreational and some competitive athletes, although weight lifters and endurance athletes (marathoners, triathletes, etc.) may have slightly higher needs.

*This information was borrowed from Emily (who is an RD). If you need more information on protein, please read her post !*

Myth 2

Actually, I work out on an empty stomach every single morning. I’ve done it for a few years and it totally works for me, but it may not work for you.

I normally have a large snack about 5 minutes before I go to sleep, so I actually think of that as my pre-workout meal and it gives me plenty of energy in the morning. It also helps me sleep!

Like I said, it works for me, but if you need something before you workout, go for it!

Myth 3

This is ridiculous. There is no “magical food” that is going to make you burn more fat.

By eating a balanced diet full of unprocessed, organic and natural foods, your going to be the healthiest you possibly can. By basing your diet on lean protein, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, your going to have the best body you possibly can.

Myth 4

I do use protein powder, but I don’t necessarily think that it’s the best way to get protein. I mainly use it as an extra source of calories and to help me recover from a hard workout.

If your wondering, I use Sunwarrior Sprouted Brown Rice Protein Powder .

In my opinion, I believe that using fresh, natural sources of protein is the best way to go:

  • Beans
  • Eggs
  • Grass fed beef
  • Organic poultry
  • Wild Seafood
  • Organic dairy

These are my main sources of protein and staples in my everyday diet.

Myth 5

I actually NEVER use electrolyte beverages. To me, they are just overpriced soft drinks full of sugar that you don’t need.

If I’m doing a long workout, I stick with water and Clif Shots.

Water is there for a reason and it’s FREE. Use it to hydrate.

Do you have anything to add? What are your thoughts on these “myths?”


This morning, I was all pumped up for a brick workout!

Wednesday Workout

Running: 7.3 miles (all barefoot)

Cycling: 70 minutes (indoor trainer)

I can’t believe that I ran 7.3 miles COMPLETELY BAREFOOT! WOO HOO!

To me, this was a milestone and it is definitely something to be celebrated. I’ve decided that one of my goals for this semester is going to be able to comfortably run 10 miles barefoot by graduation. I have no doubt in my mind that I’ll be able to complete the distance, but I want to be able to do it comfortably. That means that there is going to be a lot more barefoot running in my future.

Trust me, that’s not a bad thing ;)

After running, I watched “Bacon Paradise” on the travel channel while doing my ride. If you ever need motivation to work out, watching overweight people chow down on pounds of bacon in one sitting will totally help you!

Bacon is delicious, but eating a BLT with over a pound of it is just asking for a heart attack.

Wow, this was a long post. Signing off for today!

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