As I personal trainer I meet a lot of people on daily basis. Pretty much every new person I meet has a question about some sort of “magic technique” or “way” that, as they believe, may help them achieve their fitness and health goals. These “magic pills” vary greatly: corsets to slim the waist, cleanses to start up fat loss, no carbs after 6pm, “superfoods”, fat burning supplements…And the list can go on and on…
Most old school myths have been busted by real science a while ago, but these myths still manage to find a way into lives of folks that just starting their health journey. And it doesn’t help that new ones keep piling up on top of each other with a speed of light. While some myths can be pretty harmless, other ones may set you up for a disaster. Today I will address some common myths that I hear the most.
Companies that sell fitness waist trainers/corsets claim that they compress your core, ramp up perspiration, release toxins, and metabolize fat. The tight fit also restricts your abdomen, reducing your food intake during the day. Advocates assert that these garments will help you lose fat and inches from your waist.
Ladies (and some gentlemen), as much as I would love it to be true, it is never going to be more that just an empty promise…
First of all, let’s determine what the waist is: it’s a space between your rib cage and your hips. Depending on how long that space is, how big are your hips are and how narrow your rib cage is, your waist will look either smaller or bigger. That being said, I’m sure we can all agree that you can’t move your ribs further away from your hip bones, and move fat from belly to your hips by wearing a corset…
Second, I hear you saying: ” but it helps to burn fat on the stomach!” Which brings us to the next topic of the “fat spot reduction”… Sorry guys, but that is not possible either. Fat spot reduction doesn’t exist (unless you are going for a lipo). Your body shape (in its healthy state) is always determined by your genetics. So if you tend to store most your body fat in the stomach it means that you have to lower overall body fat percentage in order to see a flat tummy. No corset will do that for you!
And of course, let’s not forget that the space between your ribs and hips wasn’t made for aesthetic purposes, it’s a home to your organs (that you probably want to keep)…Every time you squeeze the life out of your waist your organs have to travel either up or down. Constricting the abdomen and torso could also impair lung function by restricting the amount of space available for the lungs to expand into the abdomen and fill with air.
I understand that we are often pressured by the society to adhere to the certain beauty standards. However, I also understand that I only have one body and I need to take a good care of it. If you are looking to create an illusion of a smaller waist, then pay more attention to your back and legs muscles. Bigger lats will create a V-tapper and so will bigger glutes and quads; all of that combined will bring the illusion of a smaller waist.
Negative calorie foods
Oh, how I wish it could be true!!! Unfortunately, the only negative calorie “food” out there is ice. According to the “experts,” a negative calorie food requires more energy to digest than it provides you when you eat it. And included in the negative calorie food list are celery, apples, and bananas.
Real food cannot be a negative in calories. It’s a shame that people are out there promoting this stuff, and it’s too bad that so many people fall for it. Let the common sense fat loss principles apply. It’s going to take consistent effort, working hard at your workouts and with your nutrition to get the results you want.
Drinking ice cold water will help you burn calories and lose fat
Standing in line at the grocery store is a great place to pick up the latest fat loss myths. You’ll also find this one all over the Internet.
This myth often comes along with some calculations showing that by drinking 8 glasses of ice-cold water you can burn 70 calories per day. Regardless, drinking cold water is not going to burn any more fat than drinking room temperature water.
Lose weight by putting the fork down after 6pm
All foods contain calories regardless what time you eat it. The simple truth is that eating too many calories will cause you to gain weight. A 2012 study compared overweight people who ate carbs throughout the day and those who ate them at dinner. The nighttime carb eaters lost more weight and body fat and experienced less hunger during the day—researchers noted that the evening group had better levels of hormones that regulate satiety and hunger. The explanation may also lie in the body’s production of Growth Hormone (GH). GH is a powerful hormone that controls how much fat your body burns and how much muscle it builds. At night, your GH peaks while you sleep, ultimately shutting off the moment you eat your first meal.
While eating before bed will not damage your fat loss, it may, however, have an effect on the quality of your sleep. For that purpose alone I usually recommend eating your last meal couple of hours prior to going to bed.
My favorite…Old school…For decades, many people have used sweat suits, garbage bags or saunas in order to lose weight quickly. I have to admit, I’ve done it myself as a kid when I was a martial art competitor. Why? Well, because back then nobody really knew bad side effects of that, and because you do lose wait for the short period of time; which is all you need when you are a fighter who needs to make a category.
Let’s talk about the effects of such “miracle” for a second. You will definitely lose weight but it will come in a form of sweat, NOT fat. That being said, you will gain it back as soon as you eat again or drink water. Sweating excessively has no useful purpose in a healthy weight loss. In fact, your metabolic rate (and thus a calory burn) is higher in cold, not in heat! The dangers of sweating to lose weight can be severe – they include overheating (heatstroke), extreme loss of electrolytes (kidney damage/death), and other cardiovascular related emergencies.
On a side note, I just want to mention that the same rules apply to the sauna and hot tub. There are many people who faint in the sauna or hot tub because they think it’s a good idea to walk in there right after intense exercise and “sweat it off”.
I believe sauna and hot tub are great tools for recovery and I recommend to use either one several times a week (15-20min at a time). So use it wisely and don’t overheat!
I hope this helps to clear up some “fitness mysteries.” Always remember, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is… Hard work and dedication always pay off, so keep grinding!