by Cathy Hathway

There is no quick fix

The road to a healthier lifestyle

Exercising doesn't mean you can eat what you want
The road to a healthier lifestyle

Nowadays we are constantly bombarded with promises from the next big thing in fad dieting, with claims of ‘instant results’ or ‘dropping kilo's overnight’. Studies show that fad diets result in weight gain.

Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the majority of participants who went through fad diets instantly gained weight following the diet due to lowered levels of the hunger suppressing hormones peptide YY and leptin. 

Exercising doesn’t mean you can eat what you like

Whilst it’s true that exercising frequently means you can enjoy the odd guilt-free treat once in a while, it should by no means be an excuse to eat to excess. In half an hour of running the average person will burn around 250 calories. You can eat the equivalent amount in any range of snacks in a matter of minutes. You’ll notice these time scales don’t balance out, so if you continue to eat unhealthily you’ll soon find that the effects of exercise simply can’t keep up.

A simple way of avoiding this temptation is by counting the calories you burn and consume. Once you see how much effort you have to put in to burn off even small snacks, you’ll realise exercising isn’t a free pass to stuff your face with junk.

‘Health foods’ can be unhealthy

Many supposedly ‘healthy’ foods aren’t quite what they’re made out to be. For example, if it claims to be fat free it’s probably packed with sugar. Sugar free? You can bet it’ll be full of artificial sweeteners. Take cereal bars as an example. This popular ‘healthy’ breakfast choice can contain around four teaspoons of sugar per bar, as well as high amounts of saturated fat. A recent survey showed that an alarming 97 per cent of cereal bars on the market contain added sugar.

Drinks aren’t much better either. ‘Diet’, ‘light’ and ‘sugar free’ versions of your favourite drink can seem like a great healthy alternative, but people who frequently consume diet drinks are 41 per cent more likely to be overweight. It’s thought that this is because the concoction of artificial flavourings and sweeteners found in these drinks can spark the appetite, whilst simultaneously inhibiting the brain cells that tell your body it’s full.

You can’t target an area of your body to lose weight

‘Spot training’, as it’s often called, is a health myth that sadly isn’t true. Losing weight on a particular part of your body with targeted training is not a realistic goal. Yes, that’s why those thousands of crunches you’ve been doing haven’t dented your beer belly. There are plenty of studies that have proven this to be the case, including one carried out at the University of Massachusetts. Participants who ‘targeted’ their stomachs by only doing abdomen exercises were found to lose weight equally across their abdomens, upper backs and buttocks.

Instead of worrying about a certain target area when you work out, you should focus on losing weight all over your body. That means there’s no way of quickly ditching that flabby stomach other than good old-fashioned exercise and healthy eating.

Fruit and veg aren’t what they used to be

It’s a well-known fact that eating fruit and vegetables is a great way of keeping your diet healthy and nutritious. But did you know the fruit and veg available today isn’t as healthy as it once was? Go back just 50 years and you’d find fruit that is higher in six major nutrients including protein, calcium, iron and Vitamin C. 

Researchers put this down to modern farming methods, including hybrid breeding of crops to make them larger, and the range of pesticides being used which have stripped some of the nutrients from soil. However, fruit and veg are still a great source of nutrition in your diet, so until a time machine is invented you’ll just have to make do with what we have available today

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