If you're trying to lose weight, gain muscle or build up your general fitness levels then calorie counting is a must, at any level of fitness.
Watching what goes into your body is often confusing given the number of myths that abound about diet and eating and the deceptive packaging you'll find lurking on the supermarket shelf. Here's the truth about a selection of common calorie counting myths.
Low fat foods have lower calories
Most men watching their weight or trying to control their fat intake will head straight to the 'low fat' section in the supermarket. This is, quite often, a big mistake.
Food manufacturers frequently cram in loads of sugar to make up for the lack of fat and to boost the 'sweet' taste of foods when removing fat which can actually send the calorie content skyrocketing higher than the regular version. Cooking from scratch is a must with calorie counting that way you know exactly what's going into your dinner.
If you exercise enough, it doesn't matter what you eat
The truth is, the more you exercise, the more efficient your body becomes at burning calories so up to a point your increased intake will be burnt off. Your body can, however, only take so much exercise so it's not a long-term solution to the problem.
If you do chuck loads of rubbish down your throat, or indeed great quantities of it, the excess will eventually start being stored as fat. Weight loss and exercise are in balance with your calorie intake. Throw any of them off kilter and you'll notice the results.
Celery is a negative calorie food
Celery isn't. Nor is anything else, for that matter negative calorie foods simply do not exist. The idea is that certain foods consume more calories during digestion than they give when they are broken down. There are certain foods that are incredibly low in calories but none exist that will actually cause weight loss.
If it were true, you could lose weight simply by eating more and more of the food stuff and that's just nonsensical when you stop and think about it.
You shouldn't eat carbs in the evening if you're trying to lose weight
This theory comes from a book by sports scientist Joanna Hall called Starch Curfew. In truth, scientists concur there is little evidence to support the theory and no long-term proof that it actually works.
Carbs, even when you are trying to lose weight, form an important cornerstone of your diet. When you are lowering your dietary intake, foods like sweet potatoes are a great addition easy to eat, delicious and full of complex carbohydrate giving you lots of slow-release energy so it will take you longer to get hungry again.
Your body gets rid of calories more quickly if you don't eat many carbs
Cutting out carbohydrate won't suddenly change your metabolic rate. The idea of binge dieting (lettuce and steak, lettuce and steak and, er, lettuce and steak) to quickly shed weight is incredibly bad for your body and as soon as you do start taking in carbs again your body will quickly try and rebuild its fat reserves.
In practice, the metabolic rate actually slows on a low carb diet because carbs have the greatest impact on the thyroid gland.
Lowering your calorie intake will help you lose weight
This is true, up to a point. The theory is that your body must be expending more calories than you are putting into it to lose weight so, it follows naturally, that the lower your calorie intake the better. Sure, this will help you lose weight immediately but you'll end up lowering your metabolism in the long run. Monitor your intake, but don't drop it too steeply.
Calories from healthy foods turn into fat less easily than calories from unhealthy foods
This is pure myth. Whether you over-eat on burgers, chips and kebabs or eat too much veg, brown rice or quinoa, you'll still end up putting on the weight. The myth stems from the fact you'll find it easier to over-eat with ice-cream, say, than apples you'd need a lot of apples to equate to the same amount of calories as a tub of said ice-cream.
Eating calories straight after exercise will undo the exercise you've just done
For this particular myth, the opposite is true. If you take in a sensible amount of calories post an exercise session chances are your body will recover more quickly from the exercise and these types of calories are the ones least likely to be turned into fat and stored by the body.
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