Think you’ve got a handle on nutrition? Think again. We’re all hanging on to a few nutrition myths we could do with saying goodbye to – here’s four
It’s great to see Ireland as a whole embracing the #fitness lifestyle in an effort to improve our quality of life, challenge ourselves and just plain, feel better. However, with more and more people jumping into exercise, the gym and all the other stuff that goes along with that, it’s only natural that we would fall on a few lingering exercise-related nutrition myths.
Now while some of these might not derail all your hard work, you could end up saving yourself a little time and effort by getting to grips with and ridding yourself of some of these pesky myths.
Let’s get to it!
Fasted cardio is better for weight loss and fat loss
Let’s set the scene. You’ve got your gym gear ready to go. Your meals are prepped. The alarm is set for 6am. You take a quick glance at what’s been programmed for you… FASTED CARDIO. For 45 minutes. Devo.
But what if I told you that fasted cardio holds very little benefit over non-fasted cardio?
Research from 2014 concluded that no significant difference on body composition is apparent between aerobic exercise performed in a fed state vs a fasted state.
Similarly, a previous research paper from 2012 found that although fat oxidation (the use of fat as a fuel source) was greater in the group that performed exercise in a fasted state, energy expenditure (the amount of calories we burn) in the 24hr period remained unchanged.
What this means for you and I?
There’s no problem doing your morning aerobic exercise with a little gas in the tank. It certainly won’t stunt your efforts to improve your body composition. More importantly, it’s not a requirement to burn more body fat.
You must have fast-acting carbs after training
Perhaps this one isn’t as much of a myth as you might think. However, there a prevailing thought that all types of training require a hefty serving of ‘fast acting’ carbs upon completion. This (unfortunately) just isn’t the case.
Most types of training that we do don’t require a fast acting carb source to recover. This is particularly true of something like a weight-based session in the gym or even a higher intensity session lasting up to 30 minutes.
Now some of you may be thinking, don’t we need them after training? Again, not necessarily.
Up to an hour of training or so is probably OK to go without a fast acting carbohydrate source. If, however, you are particularly more endurance-focused or completing a field-based training session that was particularly demanding, carbs may be more warranted then.
And for those thinking that a fast acting carbohydrate source is needed to maximise muscle growth, the research into this area again proves otherwise. Post-training protein will do just fine.
Which leads me nicely onto……
You’ve got 30 minutes to get your protein in, OR ELSE
The view on this idea is a little more nuanced. In short, there’s no need to see this as a ‘black or white’ answer.
Protein is really great after any form of training session. If your goal is particularly geared toward maximising muscle growth, then having a protein shake within a short time after completing a training session is a prudent decision.
Will you lose all your potential gains if you don’t?
Muscle protein synthesis signalling is at its highest and starts to dip off after that (but lasts up to 48 hours), so you might want to prioritise getting a solid source of protein in whenever is most convenient.
When it comes to other training endeavours, protein after any exercise is a good thing and will facilitate recovery and adaptations to the activity you’ve done. Essentially, it will help you get better.
So, not really a myth being busted but more of a ‘clearing up’ some of the misinformation.
Exercise is great for weight loss
Please, please, please don’t turn this into a Daily Mail headline of ‘Nutritionist says exercise is useless’.
Don’t misunderstand me here. I am not saying exercise is useless. I am trying to explain that exercise alone tends to be a poor facilitator of weight loss. There happen to be a number of reasons for this:
We overestimate the amount of activity that we do when we exercise. As human beings we tend to suffer from a strange ‘reward response’ to exercise. I’ve done this plenty of times and I am sure that many of you reading this have experienced this as well.
You’ve been training hard and the amount of calories expended comes up as 400 or you’ve done a class hyped as ‘500kcal burned per class’. We then kickback and think that we can reward ourselves with a few things because of the exercise that we’ve done. (Oh, and if you wear an activity tracker, they tend to be quite inaccurate for assessing more high intensity activity and overall energy expenditure.
Unfortunately a few hours a week of activity alone isn’t enough (or is a poor intervention) to really kickstart weight loss particularly without a solid nutrition strategy in place.
Not to rail too much against exercise, it is an absolute necessity for overall quality of life, health markers and maintenance of weight lost. Do it every day in some measure but maybe view it in a complimentary light to your weight loss approach.
Hopefully I haven’t turned anyone off the idea of exercise and nutrition but rather pointed you in a clearer direction. Remember that some of these myths can prove to be disempowering. By shedding a little more light on them, my hope is that you’ll be able to make more informed and practical decisions every day.
So to recap… we can forget these myths
- Fast cardio has no added benefit on weight loss over cardio with food in your system
- Carbohydrate is NOT a necessity after a training session
- Protein is a good idea after any bout of exercise. It just doesn’t have to be under very specific time restraints
- Exercise alone is not a great tool to facilitate weight loss. Combined with nutrition though, it’s a beaut. Even more so for overall quality of life.
Rabin Das is an MNU Certified Nutritionist and holds an MSc in nutrition and metabolism. Passionate about all things nutrition related, he hopes to make a difference with the spread of honest, trustworthy and actionable nutrition information. Check him out on Instagram or at dasnutritionconsultancy.com
READ MORE: 9 nutrition myths debunked