With the unending stream of information aimed at keeping us fit and healthy, it’s pretty much impossible to keep up. From new superfoods to the latest exercise trends, what’s good for you and what’s bad for you seems to keep changing. To help you stay up to speed, here are five habits you may have adopted thinking they’re to your benefit, when they actually may be doing more harm than good:
Avoiding carbs. While low-carb diets can not only help you lose weight, but also help reduce the risk factors associated with diseases like type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, eating no carbs at all deprives your body from the important fuel source of natural complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes. The result? No energy for your workouts, and potentially serious digestive issues from a lack of fiber. So, yes, stay away from white flour and sugar, but make those healthy carbs part of your life.
Doing lots of cardio. How can that possibly be bad? If all that cardio is resulting in an unbalanced exercise regimen, that’s how. While cardio is king when it comes to burning calories, weight training is essential for building muscle, which boosts your metabolism while your body is at rest...and who doesn’t want that? Plus, if you’re embarking on long cardio sessions at a low or moderate pace and, therefore, not getting your heart rate up sufficiently, you’re not burning as many calories as you think. So if the pounds aren’t coming off despite hours of cardio, make your sessions shorter but pump up the volume with some sprints or inclines, then add in weight training to build muscle and overall strength. Or look into high intensity interval training (HIIT), which serves both your cardio and muscle-building goals.
Getting up early to work-out. While prioritizing your work-out is a great thing, if it means you’re sacrificing sleep to do so, then you’re sabotaging your fitness goals. Exhaustion stresses your body and causes increased production of the hormone cortisol, which could be why you can’t seem to get rid of that puffiness around your midsection. Being well rested is the foundation of good health on all levels, so make sure you’re getting at least seven hours each night (some of us need eight or nine), then adjust your work-out schedule accordingly.
The golden rule when it comes to staying healthy? Keep everything in balance. Generally speaking, extremes of any kind usually come with a potentially harmful downside.