MYTHS ABOUT NUTRITION & FITNESS (PART 3)

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Welcome to the third chapter of my nutrition and fitness myths revealing article. Please, abandon every certainty and be ready to embark on a journey toward uncharted territory. Fasten your seat belt! :-)

I DRINK ENERGY DRINKS BECAUSE THEY ARE BETTER THAN SODA. The vast majority of the people who regularly consume energy drinks don’t need them. Most of them don’t even workout, and those who do are often misled to believe their bodies will be in a better place after consuming them. True, athletes do need supplements for fast recovery, but most energy drinks are a bad choice even if you were a marathon runner. The nutritional qualities of these drinks pale in comparison with the negative effects caused by the amount of sugar they contain, which is comparable – or even higher – to soda. I find it deplorable that the sports drinks manufacturing companies relentlessly target our kids, showing that drinking their products will not only enhance their performance – whatever that may be – but will also make them “cool”.

I CHOOSE DIET SODA BECAUSE IS HEALTHIER THAN REGULAR SODA. Experts say that diet soda may be even worse than regular soda. The sugar substitutes in diet soda are hundreds of thousands of times sweeter than regular sugar, and develop a stronger desire for sweet foods and drinks. The more sugar substitutes we consume, the more sugar our brain seems to crave for, feeding into a vicious cycle of addiction and dependency. Recent studies have found that those people who regularly consume sugar substitutes in their drinks will more likely choose foods rich in sugar to satisfy their desire for sweet. Diet soda seems to make it worse.

LOW-FAT AND FAT-FREE PRODUCTS ARE BETTER. It depends. With the vilification of fat in the media, foods and drinks manufacturing companies started decreasing the amount of it in their products, so that people would continue to buy them. However, when you strip something edible of its fat, it will taste like cardboard. This is one of the reasons – another being making people addicted - these companies begun adding sugar and sugar substitutes to their products. The sweetness hides the lack of taste of the “new and improved” low-fat or fat-free item that can now be advertized as a “healthier choice”. I’m not advocating for ignoring low-fat and fat-free options, as I try to choose them over their fatter versions. However, before purchasing such items I carefully read their nutritional labels, and if they contain more sugar than their “less healthy” counterparts, I won’t buy them. When I check labels, I usually give a look at the sodium content as well, as it’s often used to make low-fat and fat-free foods more palatable. Also, low-fat and fat-free products are often loaded with chemicals to preserve taste, so checking their lists of ingredients is also paramount. 

IF I WANT TO BE HEALTHY, I NEED TO LIVE WITHOUT DESSERT. If this were true, I would have been dead years ago. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, and have no problem eliminating every dessert from your diet, lucky you. There’s very little nutritional value in most sweets, and you wouldn’t miss much; plus you could “break the rules” with something else you consider more worthwhile. On the other hand, I love dessert, and my life would be rather sad without chocolate to munch on when I feel the craving. This is when I stick to my favorite unwritten nutrition “rule”: everything can be eaten in moderation. I know, it sounds like an excuse – and it probably is – but if I am careful not to overdo it, there is no reason I shouldn’t allow myself a small serving of dessert on a daily basis. Many of those people who force themselves to completely eliminate sweets from their diet end up binging in front of the fridge when they can’t bear the deprivation anymore. Experts seem to agree that 35 grams of sugar/day for men and 25 for women seem are safe to consume, and are equivalent to about 9 teaspoons of sugar for men and 6 for women.

I CAN’T LOSE WEIGHT BECAUSE I’M A WOMAN. Although sex differences do matter when it comes to losing body fat, with an equal exercise regimen and a healthy nutrition, both males and females end up getting similar results over time. While women tend to have a higher percentage of body fat, men usually have more muscle mass, and this does help them, because more muscle burns more fat. However, this doesn’t mean women are incapacitated to lose weight. Despite their hormonal alterations, if they stick to their routine and control what they’re eating, they will achieve – and maintain – equivalent results.

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Giacomo Cresti

Senior Editor Annex Press

Film Annex

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About the author

Giacomo

As Annex Press Senior Editor, I'm an educator writing about 3 main topics: fitness, digital literacy and women's rights. I've been traveling extensively throughout the Americas, Asia, Africa and Europe, especially in underdeveloped countries where women are considered second class citizens, and deprived of their most basic rights. Many of…

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