5 Food and Workout Myths, Busted

by in Diets & Weight Loss, February 16, 2011

workout gear

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – diet and exercise go hand in hand for a healthy lifestyle. As a fitness expert, I am constantly hearing inaccurate information about food and exercise. Here are a few of the most common myths and the facts to help get things straight.

Myth 1: If you exercise, you need to take in massive amounts of protein.
While protein is extremely important for growth, hormone production, and muscle health, there’s such thing as too much. An average of about 20 percent of total daily calories from protein is a good target for most active adults. Get the facts from our previous protein post.

Myth 2: It’s best to work out on an empty stomach.
While it seems like it makes sense, working out on an empty stomach is the last thing you should do. Where’s the energy for the workout going to come from without food? The best food option will depend on when you typically exercise. If you have 3 or 4 hours before a workout, eat a regular, balanced meal. If you work out first thing in the morning or it’s been more than 4 hours since your last meal, go for a small snack made up of mostly easily digestible carbohydrates like a banana, a nonfat yogurt, or a low-fat granola bar. These foods will give you quick energy and won’t upset your stomach during exercise.

Myth 3: Certain foods “burn fat.”
As great as it sounds, specific foods don’t have the power to melt away fat. Regular exercise, frequent meals and a balanced healthy diet are the best ways to keep your muscles toned and metabolism going strong.

Myth 4: Protein shakes are the best way to get protein.
Too many active folks make the mistake of believing that fancy protein powders are a must. Many of these supplements (that’s really what they are) are pricey, too high in protein (see myth #1) and loaded with potentially dangerous ingredients. Not to mention, nutrients like protein are always absorbed better from food. A plain whey or soy-based shake here and there is fine, but pay attention to the extra calories, drink them post-workout, and have no more than one per day unless you have specialized needs.

Myth 5: You need to use electrolyte beverages like vitamin-enhanced drinks or coconut water to hydrate.
Enhanced waters and sports drinks made our list of Healthy Foods to Skip and though coconut water is super-trendy nowadays, it isn’t worth the extra cost (read our full analysis of coconut water). Long duration activities and hot weather may call for the occasional sports drink, but for the most part, you are better off sticking with good old H20.

TELL US: What nutrition and exercise factoid are you curious about?

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. See Dana’s full bio »

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Comments (175)

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Angela Ahrens and Jaye Alynn, IndianapolisEater. IndianapolisEater said: 5 Food and Workout Myths, Busted on Healthy Eats http://tinyurl.com/6c3axts […]

  2. […] 5 Food and Workout Myths, Busted We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – diet and exercise go hand in hand for a healthy lifestyle. As a fitness expert, I am constantly hearing inaccurate information about food and exercise. Here are a few of the most common myths and the facts to help get things straight. […]

  3. Mary Bernhard says:

    I am on a low sodium diet for congestive heart. What are some brands of soups I could choose?
    Thank you, MSB

  4. Christine C. says:


    I've been wondering about this for a while.

    Is it true that there is a specific diet and specific exercises for apple-shaped women and one for pear-shaped women that would help them lose fat from their trouble spots better? I read that pear-shaped women should be on a high-carb, low-fat diet and apple-shaped women should be on a "plenty of good fats" diet. What are your thoughts on this?

  5. Jen says:

    Hi Christine,

    No, this unfortunately is not truth, just another one of those "fad" diet things. There are some things I can advise you about. If you are carrying more weight around the middle, you are what we would call "Insulin Resistant" and being Insulin resistant is curable!!

    Check this out!
    http://www.getthehealthyedge.com and sign up for the 14 day FREE trial and check out the first Video under Week 1 and Amber Thiel, the Co-Founder of The Healthy Edge, talks about Insulin Resistance :) It's amazing how easy it really is to change our bodies!

    Have an amazing and abundant day to you Christine!!

    Health Coach and Facilitator for The Healthy Edge

  6. Linda says:

    Sea Salt is still salt and although may have slightly less sodium per volume, you can not use it as a salt alternative. You are better off using herbs, spices, garlic, onions, etc to flavor your food, i.e., Mrs. Dash.
    Registered and Licensed Dietitian

  7. Dale says:

    I like using sea salt when I use any salt at all. I taste the salt more prominently so I use far less than I would of table salt. I also love the variety of sea salts and the great differences they make to different dishes.

    I do NOT like the salt substitutes very much – especially potassium based ones. Mrs. Dash is a good additive because it's based on herbs and spices. I have controlled high blood pressure (110/60) and cholesterol (160 total, 78 HDL) and try to eat food that keeps these conditions under control.

  8. loves to eat says:

    I was just wondering if sweet potatoes are considered a vegetable or a carb/starch.
    – just trying to make sure i get my 5 daily servings correctly! thanks!

  9. Albert says:

    Thanks for posting such a great article. I think that another diet myth is that eating certain foods, especially carbs after 8 at night will make you put on weight. My doctor told me that total calorie intake during 24 hours is important, rather than the time.

    • ElizabethGray says:

      Glad you enjoyed the article! We covered the "Does eating late cause weight gain?" myth in another post; check it out here.

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