Are carbohydrates the enemy? Do we have to do cardio to lose weight? Is sushi really the healthier option?
Our New Year fitness and diet regimes might be in full swing, but are we being told the full story?
We've debunked nine common body myths:
1. "You have to do cardio to lose weight"
"It's true that cardio (any exercise that gets your heart rate up) is great for your health, and will burn fat. But to maximise weight-loss you have to have a combination of flexibility, strength and cardio training. That's your ultimate weight loss workout," explains celebrity trainer and founder of Twenty Two Training Dalton Wong.
2. "Sushi is the healthy option"
"Think again. Sushi rice is generally full of sugar and rice wine vinegar," warns Duigan. "Its like a little fat bomb just waiting to torment your tummy. If you do find yourself in a sushi restaurant, go for raw fish and sashimi, edamame beans and salad instead - and always avoid the rice."
3. "Carbs are the enemy"
"Carbs are an important part of the diet and a major player in cognitive function, mood, energy levels and overall wellbeing," warns Vacassin. "Following a diet that is low in carbs for too long not only negatively impacts your mood, sleep and mental clarity but also your ability to lose weight, and fat. Low carb diets are also often very low in fibre which have massive implications for long term health."
"Just follow the golden rule," adds Wong, "If you want to lose weight try to restrict carbs; if you're trying to gain weight or have a specific fitness goal then you need carbs to help fuel your workouts, and your recovery."
4. "I need supplements to be healthy"
"Sure, if you have been tested and came out as low in vitamins and minerals then you do need to supplement your diet," says Wong. "But, if you are just taking them for the hell of it then your need to really re-evaluate what you supplement with; most are synthetically made. I tell all my cilents to have a fresh organic juice everyday; it's a far better way of topping up your vits and minerals, plus it tastes way better."
"Putting supplements of any kind before a good diet is not going to work. Besides, most people only need take the basics (a multivitamin, probiotic, vitamin D and omega 3 fish oil) anyway," explains Vacassin, who also recommends getting tested before taking on any extra supplementation.
5. "Running releases stress"
Not for everyone. "I see so many city workers who are just adding to their stress levels by running too much," explains acupuncturist Ross J Barr. "Running too much for too long (over 30 minutes) has in fact been shown to increase levels of cortisol, due to the amount of stress it places on the body," explains Wong. And remember, cortisol will hold on to that extra tyre around the middle that you are probably trying to shift.
6. I can eat as many 'clean' foods as I want"
"Watch it. Just because a food is 'good' or 'clean' doesn't mean that you should, or can, eat it in unlimited quantities - more is not better. Too much of anything will make you gain weight. Typical offenders here are nuts, avocados and fruit," explains Vacassin.
7. "Protein is good, so more must be better"
Getting your RDA of protein is key to health, "but as will all things, we don't need to consume it in excessive quantities," explains Vacassin. "Diets very high in protein are a by product of the new carb-phobia trend (we have to replace the calories with something right?). But we reallly shouldn't consume it in quantities that exceed our requirements if we are following a balanced nutritional programme." If you want to manage your levels, women should aim for 45 grams a day, while men should aim for 55 grams.
8. "No pain no gain!"
Working out shouldn't be a chore. "Listen to your body and know the difference between a good challenge and working through pain. It's pretty difficult to get motivated to do exercise when it hurts; on top of that if you put your body through stress you'll cause the stress hormone, cortisol, to flood into your system. And remember cortisol is linked to the storage of excess weight particularly around the middle" says Rosy Clark of Frame Queen's Park.
9. "Women shouldn't lift weights"
Don't let body builder's bodies put your off weight training, "when done in extreme amounts and combined with a diet that provides a significant excess of calories (something women very rarely, or never, do!) it does of course trigger muscle gain," says Vacassin.
"But doing two sets of twelve reps and following it up with healthy eating won't bulk you up," advises Vacassin. "You need to train and eat with the specific purpose of gaining muscle for it to happen. Burn fat as you build muscle and you'll never feel 'heavy' or 'bulky'."