Theory Thursday 

Myth-busting (part 1)

Myth #1 – “You are what you eat”

Poetically “you are what you eat” is a great concept:  

Eat chips every day > body composition = mostly lard = look like the Pilsbury doughboy.  

But in fact, it’s not as simple as “eating fat makes you fat”.  Science and medicine have been down the white rabbit hole of eat fat, get fat, get high cholesterol, get furred up arteries and die young for years.  It’s true that furred up arteries are bad for your chances of longevity.  It’s true there is an association with high cholesterol.  It’s not true, though, that eating fat causes high cholesterol, and, to myth-bust further, there are more types of cholesterol than just bad, or even than good and bad! (Which we commonly measure).  We won’t explore statins here, this isn’t a medical site, this is about lifestyle changes you can make to live a long, healthy, happy, medication-free-as-long-as-possible life. You might prefer the chemicals!  But if not, read on…..

Our bodies are very sophisticated machines.  We eat plants and animals (and chemicals!) which are complex molecules and our digestive system breaks them down into useable components.  It absorbs the ones it needs for fuel and building materials and discards the rest as waste.  Unfortunately, for modern 1st world humans, our bodies still see excess fuel as a storage opportunity against times of famine.  So the reality is (& I quote)
“You are what you save from what you eat”

If you eat fat (good fat, ideally & without “bad carbs” – the refined white ones) your body utilises it to help get fat soluble vitamins into your body, to run various cellular activities and possibly as fuel.  If you eat “bad carbs” (cakes, biscuits, pies etc.), your body can use them as fuel or store them as fat – in the liver, around your organs, around your midriff – your body is saving “fat” from your carbohydrate intake (unless you run it off!), NOT your fat intake!

Myth #2 – “target your abs with THESE exercises”

Argh!  Apart from nauseating pictures of smug people with “6-packs” “targeting” this area of the body with specific exercise to make it “look better” is toot.  You can do all the sit-ups you like but you’ll probably still have a weak “core” if you don’t do all round core exercises (try yoga planking variations instead) and that 6-pack will still be covered in lard if you don’t also “eat smart”.  So there is a “myth” I like

6-pack abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym

If you want to shed body fat, go on the LCHF diet and do a bit of intermittent fasting.  (So, 6-pack abs are actually made by avoiding the kitchen altogether!!)  If you want to exercise specifically for this goal, H.I.I.T. (where your HR goes WAYYYYYYY over your “fat-burning” zone), will augment your efforts.

Myth #3 – “red wine is good for you/badforyou/goodforyou”

We’ve been on a rollercoaster with this one.  Clearly scientists have been having a high old time drinking enough red wine to determine what’s going on.  There was the theory (when “you are what you eat” cholesterol consumption = bad was the rage) that the French didn’t get heart disease because of the red wine.  That red wine is “cardioprotective”.  In fact, it’s probably more likely to be because the French are not afraid of fat!  But that’s another story.  Then, for a while, red wine wasn’t quite so good for you because, of course, calories + sugar.  But now, up to 2 glasses (250ml total) has been shown to decrease insulin resistance.  This is counterintuitive, but frankly, I am happy to buy into this potential myth and I can tell you the superbad multitasker is bathing in it & the hobbitly olds are feeling a teeny bit smug right now!

Myth #4 – “you need a “detox” now and then”

just one clementine

OH my goodness! My favourite myth.  I’m tempted to just say, it’s rubbish, so just don’t! And leave it there.  If “toxins” are building up in your body, someone is poisoning you with arsenic.  Otherwise, rely on your amazing liver and kidneys to do their job.  Don’t detox, just don’t eat & drink so much crap that makes your liver work hard and be a bit miserable in the first place.  Which means – NO SUGAR!  (Did we mention that before at all….?)  The worst thing is what people are told to detox with – juice!  liquid fructose = pure sugar (that is not used as fuel but just processed into liver fat).  You may as well slurp up golden syrup for three days.  You will feel absolutely terrible as your blood sugar cannons about recklessly all over the shop .  Yes, I give you the vitamins, but if you eat properly in the first place what’s the difference?  Also, no fibre, which apart from causing constipation can raise your cholesterol – one of things you thought you were avoiding!

Enough ranting?  Just carry on “eating smart” and if you accidentally trip up and 80% good days: 20% bad days flips over to 80% “cheat” days then you would be better off doing an up to 3 day total fast to “reset your metabolism” (also a myth but a useful phrase……sorry)

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A tiny hobbit dedicated to saving the world with a decent second breakfast. Also, available to make you feel good in triathlon when you overtake her.......

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