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Fitness Myths Exposed

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With so much information out there about nutrition and fitness, it can be hard to try and keep track of all of it.  So I’ve tried to make a list of some of the most widespread nutrition myths.  Use this list to make a decision about what you eat and buy at the grocery.

MYTH #1: High fructose corn syrup is worse than table sugar

Whether or not added sugar is bad for you has never been in dispute. T he less sugar you eat, the better.  But whether HFCS is worse than plain ol’ table sugar has long been a contentious issue.  Here’s what you need to know: Both HFCS and
table sugar, or sucrose, are built with roughly a 50-50 blend of two sugars, fructose, and glucose.  That means in all likelihood that your body can’t tell one from the other—they’re both just sugar.  HFCS’s real sin is that it’s supercheap, and as a result, it’s added to everything from cereal to ketchup to salad dressing.  Plus it may be affecting your health in ways not yet fully understood by the scientific community.  Is it a good idea to minimize the HFCS in your diet? Absolutely. It’s best to cut out all unnecessary sugars. If you have a chose from a product with HFCS or sugar, I suggest still suggest going with natural sugar over a manufactured product.  CLICK HERE to read my article, “6 Scary Side Effects of Sugar”.

MYTH #2: Sea salt is a healthier version of regular salt

 Everyday table salt comes from a mine and contains roughly 2,300 milligrams of sodium per teaspoon.  Sea salt comes from evaporated seawater, and it also contains roughly 2,300 milligrams of sodium.  That makes them, well, roughly
identical.  Advocates point to the fact that sea salt also contains other compounds like magnesium and iron, but in truth, these minerals exist in trace amounts.  To obtain a meaningful dose, you’d have to take in extremely high and
potentially dangerous levels of sodium.  What’s more, traditional table salt is regularly fortified with iodine, which plays an important role in regulating the hormones in your body.  Sea salt, on the other hand, gives you virtually zero
iodine.  The bottom line is this: If switching from table salt to sea salt causes you to consume even one extra granule, then you’ve just completely snuffed out whatever elusive health boon you hope to receive.  Plus you’ve wasted a few
bucks.

MYTH #3: Energy drinks are less harmful than soda

 Energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster, and Full Throttle attempt to boost your energy with a cache of B vitamins, herbal extracts, and amino acids.  But what your body’s going to remember most (especially around your waistline) is the
sugar in these concoctions; a 16-ounce can delivers as much as 280 calories of pure sugar, which is about 80 calories more than you’d find in a 16-ounce cup of Pepsi. What’s more, a University of Maryland study found energy drinks to be 11
percent more corrosive to your teeth than regular soda.  So here’s the secret that energy drink companies don’t want you to know: The only proven, significant energy boost comes from caffeine.  If you want an energy boost, save yourself the
sugar spike and drink a glass of water, 80% of your body is made up of water and some studies suggest it contains as much “get up and go” as a cup of coffee.  CLICK HERE to read my article, “Drink Your Water People!”

MYTH #4: Diet soda is harmless

 The obesity-research community is becoming increasingly aware that the artificial sweeteners used in diet soda—aspartame and sucralose, for instance—lead to hard-to-control food urges later in the day.  One Purdue study
discovered that rats took in more calories if they’d been fed artificial sweeteners prior to mealtime, and a University of Texas study found that people who consume just three diet sodas per week were more than 40 percent more likely
to be obese.  Try weaning yourself off by switching to carbonated water and flavoring with lemon, cucumber, and fresh herbs.  CLICK HERE to read my article, “Diet Sodas Don’t Help with Dieting”.

MYTH #5: Low-fat foods are better for you

 As it applies to food marketing, the term “low fat” is synonymous with “loaded with salt and cheap carbohydrates.”  For instance, look at Smucker’s Reduced Fat Peanut Butter. To replace the fat it skimmed out, Smucker’s added a
fast-digesting carbohydrate called maltodextrin.  That’s not going to help you lose weight.  A 2008 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that over a 2-year span, people on low-carb diets lost 62 percent more body
weight than those trying to cut fat. (Plus, the fat in peanut butter is heart-healthy monounsaturated fat—you’d be better off eating more of it, not  less!)

MYTH #6: “Trans-fat free” foods are actually trans-fat free

 The FDA’s guidelines allow companies to claim 0 grams of trans fat—even broadcast it on the front of their packages—as long as the food in question contains no more than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. But here’s the deal: Due to an inextricable link to heart disease, the World Health Organization advises people to keep trans fat intake as low as possible, maxing out at about 1 gram per 2,000 calories consumed. If your cupboard’s full of foods with almost half a gram per serving, you might be blowing past that number every single day. The American Journal of Health Promotion recently published an article urging the FDA to rethink its lax regulations, but until that happens, you should avoid all foods with “partially hydrogenated oil” (meaning, trans fats) on their ingredients statements.

MYTH #7: Foods labeled “natural” are healthier

 The FDA makes no serious effort to control the use of the word “natural” on nutrition labels.  Case in point: 7UP boasts that it’s made with “100% Natural Flavors” when, in fact, the soda is sweetened with a decidedly un-natural dose
of high fructose corn syrup.  “Corn” is natural, but “high fructose corn syrup” is produced using a centrifuge and a series of chemical reactions.  Other “natural” abusers include Natural Cheetos, which are made with maltodextrin and
disodium phosphate, and “natural advantage” Post Raisin Bran, which bathes its raisins in both sugar and corn syrup. The worst part is, you’re likely paying a premium price for common junk food.

MYTH #8: Chocolate is bad for you

 Cocoa is a plant-based food replete with flavonoids that increase blood flow and release feel-good endorphins.  Plus, it contains a healthy kind of saturated fat called stearic acid, which research has shown can increase your good HDL
cholesterol.  But here’s the rub: When most people think of chocolate, their minds jump immediately to milk chocolate, which contains far more sugar than actual cocoa.  Instead, look for dark chocolate, specifically those versions that
tell you exactly how much cocoa they contain. A bar with 60% cocoa is good, but the more cocoa it contains, the greater the health effects.

Myth #9: Granola is good for you

 Oats are good for you, and the same goes for oatmeal.  But granola takes those good-for-you hunks of flattened oat, blankets them in sugar, and bakes them in oil to give them crunch.  The amount of fat and sugar added to each oat is at the
discretion of food processors, but you can bet your last cup of milk it’s going to far sweeter and more fatty than a bowl of regular cereal.  Take this example: A single cup of Quaker Natural Granola, Nuts & Raisins has 420 calories, 30
grams of sugar, and 10 grams of fat.  Switch to a humble cup of Old Fashioned Oatmeal, with some fruit like raspberries, strawberries and blueberries sprinkled on top, you’ll love it!

MYTH #10: Bananas are the best source of potassium

 Your body uses potassium to keep your nerves and muscles firing efficiently, and an adequate intake can blunt sodium’s effect on blood pressure.  One 2009 study found that a 2:1 ratio of potassium to sodium could halve your risk of
heart disease, and since the average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of sodium each day, your goal should be 6,800 milligrams of daily potassium.  You’re extremely unlikely to ever reach that mark—and never with bananas alone. One medium banana has 422 milligrams and 105 calories.  Here are the sources that earn you roughly the same amount of potassium in fewer calories:    * Potato, half a medium spud, 80 calories    * Apricots, 5 whole fruit, 80 calories    *
Cantaloupe, 1 cup cubes, 55 calories    * Broccoli, 1 full stalk, 50 calories    * Sun-dried tomatoes, a quarter cup, 35 calories

MYTH #11: Organic is always better

 Often, but not in every case.  Organic produce is almost nutritionally identical to its conventional counterpart. T he issue is pesticide exposure—pesticides have been linked to an increased risk of obesity in some studies.  But many conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are very low in pesticides.  Take, for example, the conventional onion: It’s got the lowest pesticide load of 45 fruits and vegetables tested by the Environmental Working Group.  Also in the safe-to-eat-conventional group are avocados, sweet corn, and pineapple.  In general, fruits and vegetables with impermeable skins are safe to buy conventional, while produce like celery, peaches, apples, and blueberries are better purchased organic.  Always remember to wash your fruits and veggies before you eat them.  I use All Natural Veggie Wash that I buy at Kroger, it works great.

MYTH #12: Meat is bad for you

 Pork, beef, and lamb are among the world’s best sources of complete protein, and a Danish study found that dieting with 25 percent of calories from protein can help you lose twice as much weight as dieting with 12 percent protein.  Then
there’s vitamin B12, which is prevalent only in animal-based foods. B12 is essential to your body’s ability to decode DNA and build red blood cells, and British researchers found that adequate intakes protect against age-related
brain shrinkage.  Now, if you’re worried that meat will increase your risk for heart disease, don’t be.  A Harvard review last year looked at 20 studies and found that meat’s link to heart disease exists only with processed meats like
bacon, sausage, and deli cuts. Unprocessed meats, those that hadn’t been smoked, cured, or chemically preserved, presented absolutely zero risk.  It is still best to consume meats in limited quanities.

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