Everybody has their own formula to a fit and robust body.

To look at health as ‘wholesome’ is to follow a program that focuses on all the five dimensions of health- physical, physiological, psychological, emotional and spiritual. A corrective eating pattern and regular physical activity are the two parameters that work in the long run. For your information and awareness, listed below are some of the popular myths and misconceptions concerning diets and exercises:

It is safe to eat fat free foods available in the market. They are calorie free.

Fact: Check all facts on fat free foods by reading the food labels for the serving size and the number of calories per serving. Most of these foods do contain extra sugar, flour and starch thickeners to make them tasty. These ingredients are high in calories and may lead to weight gain. Some people tend to over indulge in such foods with the belief that they are good for dieters.

Stomach Crunches are enough to get rid of your belly fat.

Fact: Spot reduction or choosing areas where you can burn fat from is difficult. In order to burn fat or lose weight you need to create an exercise or workout plan that includes both cardiovascular and strength training exercises. This will not only help decrease your overall body fat content but will also increase flexibility. Specific exercises will help in toning those areas. For wholesome wellness and long term goals address your body in totality and not in a fragmented way.

You should never eat before a workout.

Fact: “Fuel” from food and fluids is required to provide the energy for your muscles to work efficiently, even if you are doing an early morning workout. It is advisable to opt for a small meal or a healthy snack two to three hours prior to exercise. Give your body the necessary ‘fuel’ for energy by choosing fruit, yogurt, whole wheat toast or unsweetened soy milk Take care not to have heavy meals as too much food just prior to your exercise may cause vomiting, nausea or uneasiness.

Fat is bad for you, no matter what kind.

Fact: Contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of “good fats” that are essential for good health and aid in disease prevention. Not all fat is bad. The good fats contain essential fatty acids like Omega3 and Omega6 fatty acids. The best sources of these fats are flax seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, olive oil, avocado, fish and nuts like almonds, cashew, peanuts etc. These fats help to raise your good cholesterol or HDL. Including small amounts of these foods at meal times can help you to feel full longer and therefore eat less. Fats that contribute towards weight gain are saturated, hydrogenated and processed fats found in all baked foods, biscuits, cookies, cakes, crackers and other fries snacks. These fats also increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and hypertension

Lifting weights tend to make women bulky, broad and muscular.

Fact: Women have less muscle fibers as compared to men. Besides, most women do not produce enough testosterone to become ‘bulky’. To build large muscles an adequate supply of male hormones (testosterone) in the blood stream is required. Also include yoga, stretches, breathing exercises (pranayam) and meditation for overall wellness.

Restricting calories drastically is the best way to lose weight.

Fact: Regular exercise and reduction in calories contribute towards weight loss, maintenance of lean body mass. Resorting to drastic measures like less than 1200 calories diets and starvation will only lead to loss of energy, stamina and reduced metabolic rates. For long lasting energy and better results eat regular meals at frequent intervals and eliminate 100-300 calories consistently from your daily diet.

As long as you eat healthy foods, you can eat as much as you want.

Fact: This is a misconception! A calorie is a calorie. Although foods like fruits, oats etc are considered healthy, extra helpings will contribute to extra calories. Healthy or otherwise, it is important to be aware of portion sizes. You must limit your caloric intake in order to lose weight. Understanding how to ‘balance’ calorie intake throughout the day can help you avoid feelings of deprivation, hunger and despair. Include a few cups of green teas and warm water to tide over hunger pangs.

Exercise turns fat into muscle.

Fact: Fat and muscle are two separate tissues and do not have the capability to change from one type of tissue to another. Fat does not turn into ‘muscle’. It is possible to lose fat with a dedicated effort which includes diet and exercise and replace it with muscle. Fat by itself cannot turn into muscle.

Eating late at night contributes to excess weight gain.

Fact: There are no specific or ideal hours. Many people believe and associate late-night eating with weight gain mainly because, that’s when we have large meals and we end up consuming more calories at night. We do this because it is a common practice to skip meals and thus deprive our bodies of adequate calories during the day. A large meal before bed time especially if it’s a high carb meal stimulates insulin which stimulates fat storage. For steady weight loss a light meal at dinner consisting of salads, soups and vegetables are recommended. Avoid foods like breads, pasta, rice, cheese etc.

A good workout requires sweating. The more one sweats the more fat one can lose

Fact: Sweating is not necessarily an indicator of exertion – sweating is your body’s way of cooling itself. If you exercise under humid or hot conditions, you will surely sweat profusely and the weight loss recorded at such times only indicates water loss and not fat loss. How much you sweat is certainly not a great measure to see how many calories one is burning. Weight loss is possible only by a sensible, moderate eating plan and quality workouts!

If you don’t eat carbohydrates, you’ll lose more weight

Fact: This is believed by a lot of people and is a very common and popular myth. When you eat more calories than you burn, you will naturally start to gain weight. Whenever you eat less calories, you’ll lose weight. According to all the experts and research the best way to lose weight is through a sensible eating plan that includes good quality carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, pulses, sprouts, whole grains, millets, low – fat milk and salad vegetables. Remember, if you eat too many calories you will gain weight. It is best to eat foods that fill you up and satisfy your hunger without adding too many calories. Avoid bad carbohydrates like cookies, biscuits, crackers, chips, fruit juices, desserts and soft drinks.

One need not exercise if you don’t look overweight.

Fact: This too is a common myth. Even if you don’t look overweight there is a possibility that your body fat is high as compared to your muscle mass. High body fat percentage, higher is the risk of health problems like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer etc. Heart diseases, diabetes and hypertension are often the result of a poor lifestyle and inactivity and can be fatal. Regular walks, exercises and a controlled diet can work wonders to ward off these problems.

People who exercise daily need not worry about what you eat.

Fact: Keeping track of what you eat, how much you eat and at what frequency are as important as exercising regularly. Regular exercise and a sensible and sound eating plan work together for good health, higher energy levels and better immunity.

Snacking causes weight gain.

Fact: What and how much you eat, and the amount of physical activity you do during an entire day, determines whether you gain, lose or maintain your weight. The tendency to gain weight when you snack in the evening is more a matter of the choices you make. Common evening snacks such as fried foods, desserts, ice cream, potato chips and biscuits and cookies add to your calorie intake for the day, and these calories are what results in weight gain. Substituting these snacks for a fruit or a few nuts is a much better choice.

Eating sugar causes diabetes.

Fact: Diabetes is the result of not having enough insulin and not using that insulin effectively. The main risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes are eating high-calorie diets, being overweight and having an inactive lifestyle. People with diabetes need to watch their carbohydrate and sugar intake to maintain optimal control and include daily exercises, yoga, deep breathing exercises and meditation and ensure that your diet is rich in vegetables, salads, sprouts, whole grains, fruits and fresh vegetable juices.

Eating eggs will raise your cholesterol.

Fact: Egg yolks have concentrated amount of cholesterol, but studies have shown that high cholesterol foods are not the major cause for elevated blood cholesterol levels. It is the saturated fat and trans fat that elevates blood cholesterol. Care should be taken to limit these two types of fats in our diet. Eggs can be a good source of protein and other nutrients, but I recommend you limit your egg consumption to four whole eggs per week.

Brown bread is healthy and a good source of fiber.

Fact: Food manufacturers have succeeded in influencing our food choices, and it’s often assumed that foods with a darker hue are high in fiber and nutrients. Brown dyes and additives are often used to give foods the appearance of being healthy. So the best way to really know what you are getting is to read the food label well. To see if it’s whole grain, read the list of ingredients. “Whole” indicates that it has not been refined. Another assuring label is the word ‘multigrain’. A good source of fiber will have a dietary fiber value of at least 3 to 4 grams per serving.

One must drink 3 to 4 liters of water a day.

Fact: Water needs depends on various factors like one’s physical activity, climate etc. As a guideline 8 to 10 glasses per day is recommended to replace the body fluids lost through the day. Water is an essential component of every metabolic process in the body. Proper hydration improves muscular and cellular activity, aids digestion, regulates body temp and is necessary for digestive processes.

A multivitamin daily is essential if one is a vegetarian.

Fact: Most vitamins and minerals needed by your body are found abundantly in vegetables, raw vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains. So, if your diet is a balanced one, this gives you adequate levels of all nutrients with the possible exception of Vitamin B12 as it is more easily available in meat and dairy products. Traces are found in plant sources like soy and its products, seaweed and spirulina. Vegetarians especially vegans are advised to include foods fortified with B12 or as a supplement.

Skipping a meal is good for weight loss.

Fact: It is a known fact that people who skip breakfast or eat fewer times during the day tend to gain more weight than those who eat regularly and more frequently. Fewer meals can reduce one’s metabolism and skipping meals also tend to make them feel much more hungry later in the day. The best method is to eat less food more often.

Nuts are fattening and should be avoided if you are trying to lose weight.

Fact: A small helping of nuts is recommended as they are nutrient dense and are rich in dietary fiber, proteins and minerals and good fats. Yes, they are high in calories, so a small helping is recommended.

The more protein supplements you have, the more muscle you gain

Fact: Proteins are required for faster recovery and muscle repair. But, there is no evidence that excess proteins will lead to stronger or more muscles. Excess protein gets stored in the body as fat. More proteins as supplements are recommended for competitive sports or athletes and should be always taken under guidance from a dietitian or health professional. Resistance training provides the stimulus for muscle building and a well balanced diet with adequate proportions will be able to meet the protein needs.

One can lose weight with green tea.

Fact: Green tea is rich in antioxidants and has shown to aid fat metabolism. It is also important to follow a sensible eating pattern and do regular exercise in order to lose weight. Green tea helps to lower LDL or the bad cholesterol.

Fact: Fad diets for quicker and permanent weight loss.

Fact: Fad diets are unhealthy and difficult to follow. One gets tired of these diets as there is no variety and one often regains most of the lost weight. These diets are low in nutrition, fiber and if followed for longer periods can have adverse effects on your body and overall health. Make healthy choices for a gradual weight loss. Regular exercise, yoga, stretches, deep breathing exercises and meditation are recommended.

Exercise makes one feel hungrier. Therefore while on a diet it is not a good idea to exercise.

Fact: Exercise is an effective regulator of one’s appetite. Exercise boosts metabolism, helps burn body fat and oxygenates your cells. Weight loss programs will always work better when both diet and exercises are combined well.

It is possible to lose fat from specific areas by exercising those areas more

Fact: It is now widely accepted that spot reduction has no factual basis. Exercise helps in metabolizing fat from all regions of your body and not from a specific muscle. Specific exercise will help to firm up or tone the area and weight loss is the result of a combined effort of sensible eating and regular exercise.