Do you ever wonder if some of the health tips you think are true are really, in fact, bogus? Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? Are smaller meals really better? Is fat as bad for you as they say? Does the body really continue burning calories after your HIIT workouts are over? Here’s a list of 7 health tips you might be surprised at learning the truth about.
It Really Doesn’t Matter when You Eat
We’ve all heard how smaller meals are better, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you shouldn’t eat late at night, and so on. In reality, most of this is rubbish. While there is some evidence to suggest that the body can better utilize food when consumed in multiple, smaller portions, the advantages really are pretty minimal in the grand scheme of things.
What’s way more important is your average daily caloric intake. If you’re looking to lose weight for instance, you need to decrease your daily calories. As long as over the course of a week, your caloric intake averages out to be what it needs to be, it doesn’t really matter when you consume those calories during the day.
As such, you should eat when and as often as you want – preferably in a manner that will give you the greatest probability of actually sticking to a reduced calorie diet. Meaning, if calories and macros remain the same, but you are more likely to stick to a daily plan of eating two big meals as opposed to six smaller ones, then that is what you should do.
You Don’t Need that Much Protein
It’s hard to come across a bodybuilding or diet article not recommending exorbitant amounts of protein. These health tips saying you need 1.5 grams, 2 grams, even 2.5 grams and more of protein per pound of bodyweight are radically overstated.
The reality is that you can get away with much less than that. There is even data that says intense burn victims in trauma units who have to repair and rebuild massive amounts of muscle and skin tissue don’t benefit from much more than .6-.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.
If these people are literally rebuilding parts of their body, you’re not going to need more protein than they do just because you hit the gym hard a few days per week. Sticking with .75 per pound of desired bodyweight is more than enough.
EPOC Is Seriously Overrated
One of the health tips that raises the most eyebrows, entirely too much credence is given to the effects of EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). One of the big reasons interval training has become so popular in recent years is that it makes you work so hard that your metabolism stays “revved up” and continues to burn calories long after your workout is over. While this is true, it’s not nearly as much as you probably think.
In fact, a 2006 study in the Journal of Sports Sciences showed that EPOC effects really only amount to roughly 14% of the work done. This means that however many calories you burn during your interval workout, you can expect to burn an additional 14% after your workout is over. So if you burned 400 calories during a 30-minute interval workout, that would mean burning an additional 56 calories. It’s just not that substantial.
Long, Slow, Steady State Cardio is Still Better for Losing Weight
Because EPOC effects after intervals don’t add up to that much, and because the overly intense nature of interval training limits just how long you can do them, you honestly just can’t burn as many calories as you can with longer duration, steady state cardio. Weight loss is about calories in vs calories out, and long cardio is the best way to burn more calories.
This is especially true when you consider that even long, steady state cardio, as per the aforementioned study, has an EPOC of 7%. So say you did an hour of slow cardio, burning 700 calories. Your body would then go on to burn another 7%, or 49 calories.
When you compare the intervals in the last section to the steady-state cardio in this section, you’re looking at:
- Intervals – 400 + 56 = 456 total calories burned
- Steady state cardio – 700 + 49 = 749 calories burned
Yes, the long, slow cardio does take longer (hence the classification), but it is the best way to burn more calories. Then when you consider that properly intense intervals can only be done 2-3x/week without risking burning out the nervous system, while steady state cardio can be done near daily, it becomes obvious which is the better choice for outright fat loss.
Don’t Fear Fats
For years, health tips presumed that dietary fats were “bad” for you, and that eating fat in your diet made you fat. The truth is that saturated fats (i.e. – fats found in meat, avocados, nuts, real butter, etc.) are actually very good for you. They’ve been shown to boost good cholesterol, balance and improve hormone levels, improve focus and clarity, increase skin pliability, lubricate joints, and even provide energy. So don’t shy away from those fatty cuts of meat – they’ll actually make you feel better.
“Low Fat” Foods can be Quite Unhealthy
Because so many people were afraid of and promoted health tips perpetuating the fear of fat for so long, many companies started to produce “low fat” and “no fat”versions of their products. However, because taste obviously always has to be a factor, and because fat is often a big contributor to taste, companies had to make up for this somehow.
Usually, this was in the form of added sugars, chemicals, or the like. Added sugars is the biggest culprit here. If you check the nutrition facts on “low fat” versions of many foods that still taste good, you’ll find that they contain quite a bit of sugar. This is usually refined sugar, and not the healthy, naturally appearing sugar like you get in fruits and some vegetables.
Calories Still Matter
In what is probably the “duh” moment of this list of health tips, you have to realize and accept that calories not only still matter, but are the most important aspect you have to stick to of your diet. Too often when people start eating “healthy” foods (whether they actually are or not), they think that they no longer need to concern themselves with caloric intake.
For example, if someone goes on the paleo diet, they may to turn to nuts and seeds as a snack option. This is good because they are full of protein, healthy fats, and so on. However, they are also very calorie dense. One cup of mixed nuts is maybe only a couple handfuls, yet still contains over 800 calories. This alone could throw your entire diet off-kilter. So be sure to still track calories, even if you are eating better.
Some of these health tips may have surprised you. But when you get down to either the science or common sense of each one, you’ll see they make sense. If you’ve been getting any of the above wrong, go ahead and fix them right away so you can improve your health and fitness today.