Myths About Weight Loss and Exercise Performance
As you become
inundated with ads for new diets, weight loss supplements and
muscle-building products, it's easy to get confused. But the best way
to make sense of these weight-loss promises and exercise-performance
claims is to arm yourself with the facts, says Susan Kalish, executive
director of The American Medical Athletic Association.
The association cites several common myths:
Myth: Cutting carbohydrates from your diet is an effective way to lose weight.
individuals on high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets believe they lose
weight by eliminating carbohydrates. In truth, they lose weight simply
because they have reduced the amount of calories they take in," said
Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D., author of "Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition
Guidebook, Second Edition."
the weight change is caused by a rapid loss of water, not fat," added
Karen Reznik Dolins, M.Ed., R.D., nutrition consultant to the New York
Knicks professional basketball team. "And after a short period of time,
muscle is lost in addition to fat."
With less muscle, the body burns fewer calories, making this diet a poor choice for long-term weight maintenance.
fooled by anyone who tries to convince you that fruits, vegetables and
whole grains will make you fat," warned Reznik Dolins. "These foods are
an essential part of a healthy diet and, as the primary fuel source for
muscles, they are crucial to an athlete's diet."
adequate carbohydrate intake, the active person undoubtedly will
experience drops in energy levels and exercise performance.
Myth: The fewer calories you eat, the more weight you lose.
This statement is true only to a point.
restrict your calories too much for an extended period of time, you can
actually trigger what is known as the 'starvation adaptation
response,'" explained Dr. Susan M. Kleiner, author of "High Performance
Nutrition." "This simply means that your metabolism slows down to
accommodate your lower caloric intake, and your body conserves fat
rather than burning it for energy."
Even a person
who works out regularly can hold onto body fat and end up at a
weight-loss plateau if not enough calories are being consumed.
diets are also a disaster for anyone wanting to maintain or build
muscle. Such diets cause your body to store fat, as well as burn
healthy muscle," Kleiner warned. "Never go below 1,200 calories per day
if you're a woman and 1,600 if you're a man."
Myth: To build muscle, you need to supplement your diet with extra protein.
"There is no
research showing that taking in extra protein enhances muscle weight
gain," said Dr. Melvin Williams, author of "The Ergogenics Edge."
individuals need about 12 percent or 15 percent of their total daily
calories to come from protein. Some may need more than the Recommended
Daily Allowance (RDA) of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body
weight, but even they should not exceed a level of two to 2.5 times
over the RDA.
endurance athlete, the upper level of the recommended amount is 1.4
grams per kilogram body weight; for a strength-trained athlete, the
upper level is 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight," said Williams.
protein in your diet can cause dehydration, kidney and liver problems
and, according to a study by the National Cancer Institute, it has been
linked to kidney cancer.
Myth: The less body fat you have, the better.
athletes who lose too much body fat can be at risk for a condition
referred to as The Female Athlete Triad. This condition is
characterized by inadequate nutrition, loss of menstruation and
early-onset osteoporosis, which often is irreversible. In women, fat is
needed to support child-bearing functions and essential fat (11 percent
to 13 percent for women and 3 percent to 5 percent for men) provides
calories for energy, protects internal organs, makes hormones and keeps
health, no one should drop below their level of essential fat, nor
should they exceed ranges that would put them at risk for heart
disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke," advised Kalish.
Women should not exceed 27 percent body fat; for men, that figure is 17 percent, according to Clark.
Myth: Sweating is a great way to lose weight.
the way your body cools itself, and weight loss during exercise often
represents a loss of fluids from the body -- not a reduction of fat,"
said Kalish. "Rather than rejoicing about the number of pounds you've
lost, you should calculate the amount of fluids you need to replace.
For every pound you lose following a bout of exercise, you should drink
at least 24 ounces of fluid."
dehydration occurs if you do not fully rehydrate after each workout,
and this can have a negative effect on your health and exercise
Source: The American Medical Athletic Association, 4405 East West Highway, Suite 405, Bethesda, MD 20814.