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Get Healthy and In Shape: 15 Diet Myths Debunked!

Get Healthy and In Shape: 15 Diet Myths Debunked!

Let’s be honest, we’ve all tried a crash diet now and then to try and shift a few pounds. Not all of them work, some do, though it’s never a long-term change, but why is that? We all know that diets are bad for us, but with no clear explanations for all the misconceptions that surround them it’s no surprise that we keep trying every new fad diet that come out through the media. I’m going to explain some of the myths that surround diets and give you an understanding of the right way to lose weight.

1. Going on a diet is the quickest way to lose weight

In the short term, your will power during a diet will help you shift a few pounds. Whether it’s from a liquid diet, smoothie substitutes or calorie deficit, in the beginning it will work. However, this change is only temporary – it’s not permanent. Christopher Gardner, an assistant professor of nutritional science at Stanford University School of Medicine, said: “A diet won’t work if you think of it as doing a different thing for a while and then you’re going to stop doing it.”

This mentality is what stops us from shifting the weight permanently. We should be aiming to adopt a completely new lifestyle as a whole, not just for the duration we keep up the latest fad diet.

2. Eating small meals will boost your metabolism and you will burn more calories naturally

The majority of foods we eat don’t have any impact on our metabolism. Things like caffeine may slightly and only temporarily increase your metabolism, but even this increase is not enough to have an effect on weight loss. Eating regularly helps keep your metabolism working consistently and this is good for you. It will stop your body from feeling hungry as it won’t be worried about not getting any energy from food. Large gaps in between meals can confuse your body, leading to unwanted cravings and unnecessary calories.

The only thing that’ll help you burn more calories is muscles – so get moving!

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3. Too much pasta will make you fat

Ever tried a carb-free diet? I have! I now know better though. Carbohydrates don’t make you fat, it’s the extra calories you consume as a result that do it. Like, for example, the sauces or condiments you add to the dish to make it taste better, not to mention the amount of pasta you’re actually eating. Eating pasta in moderation, like most foods, will not make you fat. Just be aware of portion control and try not to have it every day!

4. Caffeine can help you lose weight

Somewhere along the way came the assumption that drinking caffeine can suppress our appetites when we’re feeling hungry. Theoretically it can, but this isn’t exclusive to caffeinated drinks. Water will do the same thing, and drinking four to seven cups of water a day won’t lead to anxiety, sleeplessness or an increase in heart rate or blood pressure, whereas comsuming the same amount of coffee might.

If you want a hot drink, try green tea – there are countless flavours to choose from and they’re much better for your health too!

5. Milk can help you lose weight

I read once that calcium helps the body break down fat more efficiently, thus leading to more weight loss. This doesn’t have any scientific evidence to back it up. A few studies in 2000 showed that dieters who consumed dairy lost more weight than those who didn’t, but there was no explanation as to why this happened.

6. Don’t eat after 8 p.m.

Ever heard the saying “double calories at night”? Many dieters believe that you burn more calories in the morning and when you eat at night the food sits in your system and then turns to fat. But calories cannot tell time. Mary Flynn, Ph.D., a research dietician at the Miriam Hospital in Providence notes, “Your body digests and uses calories the same way morning, noon, and night.” The misbelief may have come about because you obviously move around more in the morning and throughout the day than in the evenings, so you may have less of an opportunity to burn your intake off. Just be aware what it is you’re actually eating in the evenings and ask yourself if you actually need it.

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7. Don’t eat protein and carbs together in the same meal – it’s too much!

This misconception relates to the enzymes the body uses when we digest food. Apparently eating foods that require the same type of enzymes aids digestion and evidently helps with weight loss. Your digestive system can actually handle a variety of food all at once. Christopher Gardner says, “There is no proof that eating protein and carbohydrates separately aids digestion or weight loss.”

So eat up, mix up and just enjoy your food!

8. To lose weight you need to cut down your calorie intake drastically

I’m not going to say drastically cutting calories won’t make you lose weight, because it will. But the damage it does to your body is not worth it. Not to mention that maintaining a calorie deficit of however much for the rest of your life is quite considerably unrealistic. This means the inevitable will happen – you’ll pile back on the pounds when you go back to how you ate before.

It’s not about eating less, it all about eating more of the right things.

9. Diet foods help you diet

We believe labels like “low fat,” “low carb,” “no added sugar,” etc. make losing weight easier. The truth is these labels don’t always equate to low calories and certainly don’t equal nutritious meals or snacks. Recent studies carried out by Robert Lustig have suggested that when the fat is taken out of foods and replaced with artificial sugar replacements that are low in calories this is actually much worse for our health than the stuff removed in the first place.

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My advice? Stick to healthy foods that are natural, and that you can trust.

10. Eating fats make you fat

If you’re trying to lose fat, then why eat it, right? Wrong! Fat is not the enemy per se. Fat-rich products like cakes, chocolate bars, sweets, etc. won’t be good for you as a whole, let alone your waistline. Good fats on the other hand are essential for maintaining good cholesterol, keeping your arteries clear and your health in general in check. Fats also help with the absorption of certain vitamins and phytonutrients (compounds in plants that help promote good health).

You just have to be careful which fats you’re eating. But remember: dark chocolate is good for you!

11. Snacking is a bad idea

Not many diets promote snacking. They mostly dictate what we can or can’t eat, the amount of calories we should limit ourselves to and to control portion sizes. What they don’t tell us is how to handle the food we want in between meals, and because of this we think that snacking isn’t good for us and that we shouldn’t do it if we’re trying to lose weight.

In actual fact, snacking in between meals can actually help us eat less and beat off the urge to overeat or binge later. The only thing to be wary of it what it is you’re snacking on. Make it something healthy. Try a fruit salad, nuts or even go adventurous and have an apple or banana with some peanut butter! Just make sure you’re enjoying the food you’re eating.

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12. You can eat what you want so long as you exercise

Some of us find it hard to eat the foods that are commonly associated with diets, so we compensate for a bad diet by overexercising.

Unfortunately, you can’t work off a bad diet. You need to be willing to make a lifestyle change. The fact is, your metabolism slows down as you age, and as a result you often have to either eat less or exercise more to avoid gaining weight. There is a common saying that abs are made in the gym but earned in the kitchen, meaning you have to back up your exercise with the right foods.

13. Cholesterol is bad for you

When we hear the word cholesterol, we automatically place a negative stigma on it. But there’s both good and bad cholesterol. That good cholesterol helps to build cells and make vital hormones that are essential for a balanced diet and healthy well-being. And that bad cholesterol is what builds up in your arteries and causes serious health risks.

14. Vegetarians can’t build muscle

People assume vegetarians just eat leaves and salads all the time and they struggle to gain muscle because they don’t eat meat. But meat is not the only source of protein. Cheese, nuts, pulses and grains all contain protein, and when eaten right can deliver the same benefit for gaining muscles as meat does. While protein is an essential part of a balanced diet, too much of it can cause damage to the kidneys. This is because the body can only store a certain amount of it and too much can cause long-term side effects. So as mentioned before, take the “in moderation” approach to food and you’ll be fine!

15. The scale is the only way to measure progress

Many diets focus on getting to that goal weight. They advertise losing seven pounds in four weeks and to have regular weigh ins to track progress. It’s really not the best way though. While it can be an indication of progress, your weight will fluctuate daily, weekly and monthly. This is because when you exercise you will be burning your fat but simultaneously you will be building your muscles. You may believe that muscles weighs more than fat but it is simply less dense, meaning one pound of muscle takes up less space than one pound of fat. So, how can you measure your progress? Simple. Take your own measurements: waist, arms, legs, neck, bust, chest, etc. This will help you have a clearer picture of your progress without getting fixated on a number.

I hope by reading this you’ll look into diet myths in more detail and consciously make the decision to not get caught up in them. The only real way to lose weight and keep it off is to eat healthily, exercise and be good to yourself.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

Feeling tired all the time?

Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

What Happens When You’re Too Tired

If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

  • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
  • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
  • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
  • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
  • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
  • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
  • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

Unfortunately, yes!

Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

  1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
  2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
  3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

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Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

Symptoms of fatigue include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low stamina
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Low motivation

These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

  1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
  2. Exercising regularly
  3. Using stressbusters
  4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

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I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

  • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
  • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
  • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
  • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

L — Living Healthy

Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

1. Unplug

Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

2. Unwind

Do something to relax.

Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

3. Get Comfortable

Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

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Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

E — Exercise

Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

That’s what happened in my case.

But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

That made sense to me.

So, I decided to swim.

I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

A — Attitude

Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

Breathing.

But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

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Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
  2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
  3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
  4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
  5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
  6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

N — Nutrition

Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

  1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
  2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
  3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
  4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
  5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
  6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
  7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
  8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
  9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

The Bottom Line

If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

  • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
  • Regular Exercise You Love
  • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
  • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

More Tips to Help You Rest Better

Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
[2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
[3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
[4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
[5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
[6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
[7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
[8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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