Jul 27, 2006|
Myth: Taking carbohydrates out of your diet is a healthy way to lose weight.
Carbohydrates provide about 50-60 percent of the body’s energy calories, so a drastic reduction in carbohydrate intake means the thyroid slows down, decreasing metabolism and the body’s ability to break down fats and carbohydrates. Certified personal trainer Irving Henson notes this can be detrimental to attempts to lose weight.
In fact, some carbohydrates are good for you. Complex carbohydrates (such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, oats, brown pastas and brown rice) break down gradually, providing short bursts of energy throughout the day, meaning they take longer to add themselves to your beer gut. In comparison, simple carbohydrates (such as anything made from refined white flour, including white pastas and white rice) just add to your weight because they don’t need to be broken down.
Intake is also important. Both Henson and nutrition consultant Tan Wei Ling agree that the optimal carbohydrate intake is five to six servings per day, throughout the day. Each serving size should be no bigger than a clenched fist. This doesn’t mean you can use your meathead friend’s fist to justify a big bowl of mashed spud. “It’s different for different people because everyone has different sized fists,” says Henson.
And don’t forget: If you cut out carbs, you’ll have to put something else in, and fatty foods are often the unfortunate alternative.
Myth: Running burns more fat than walking.
The most productive form of fat-burning exercise is that which keeps your heart rate in the fat burning zone for the longest.
According to health experts this means it’s not necessarily the intensity of the exercise that’s important, but the amount of time we can keep our heart at the ideal fat-burning heart rate. So if you’re unfit, then running around the block twice for 10 minutes might knock the hell out of you, but a less intense 20-minute walk might maintain your heart rate for longer, bringing about better results. It all depends on the individual.
Myth: Flexibility indicates fitness.
If you’ve had joint pain after a long flight, you know that moving your joints is important. Yoga Instructor Jeanne Chung argues that flexibility is an indication of health and fitness because it’s a demonstration of the health of those body parts that move your joints: your muscles, tendons, ligaments and connective tissues.
Exercising the joints gets the blood pumping, another important consideration. “Blood flow brings nutrients and oxygen, and carries off toxins,” Chung says.
Myth: All street food is healthy and low-fat.
When eating street food, be discriminating. “Go for less oily, less salty, less sweet and less flour-coated foods,” warns Tan. So, while not all of it is bad, that doesn’t mean you should grab the next plate of deep-fried chicken you see.
• When ordering noodles, ask for no oil.
• Fried noodles should be eaten less often. But if you really can’t help yourself, at least buy a smaller portion.
• Curries are another one to avoid, but if you’ve ordered some, then leave the gravy behind rather than polishing off the whole bowl.
• Eat less rice (especially processed white rice) and more vegetables and tofu.
• Cut out the skin—especially fried skin, like chicken or fish.
Myth: BMI indicates ideal weight and fitness.
Verdict: The jury’s still out.
BMI (Body Mass Index) is simply a formula that tells you if you are over- or under-weight according to your height. It is calculated by the following formula:
[Body weight (lbs) ÷ Height (in) ÷ Height (in)] x 703. Try it—say you’re five-foot-eight and 145 pounds: 145 divided by 68 is 2.13, divided by 68 again is .03. Multiply that by 703 and you’ve got your BMI: 21.09. (The healthy range for Asians is 18.5-23).
So if your BMI is higher than average, does that mean you’re unfit and fat? Our experts were unable to agree on this. Tan acknowledges that there is no ideal weight, but sees BMI as “a good measure of healthy weight range. It does not necessarily indicate fitness, but it indicates health and or disease risks.”
Henson disagrees. “I find it [BMI] highly inaccurate,” he says. “Take a 210 pound athlete with a fat percentage of eight percent and a height of 5’10”—a BMI of 30.1. According to this formula, he would be considered obese.” Henson suggests a different formula: The waist-to-hip ratio test. “Simple: The waist should be smaller than the hips. If it’s not, you are overweight.”