From common misconceptions around counting carbs, to why you shouldn’t be aiming for perfection, we continue our series of articles with nutritionist and personal trainer Amy Rose by examining some popular health and fitness facts and fibs.
Amy is a personal trainer and nutritionist who works with Kent XL@Football club, who Kent Reliance proudly sponsors.
Myth 1: Eating carbs will make you fat
Fact: Carbs are not stored as fat; we need them for energy
You don’t need to exclude or lower the amount of carbs to lose weight or fat. Our bodies are designed for carbs to be our main (and fastest) source of energy. Carbohydrates are one of our three macronutrients alongside with fats and protein.
As well as being our main source of energy, carbs maintain our blood glycose levels and keep them level.
Amy said: “When people want to lose weight, they tend to cut out certain carbs like pasta, potatoes or swap them for sweet potato; these changes aren’t going to make much of a difference.”
Also, all carbs have nutrient benefits – for instance, potatoes are high in potassium whereas sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A.
These small changes alone aren’t going to help you lose weight, you’ll only do this by being in a calorie deficit - whether you eat a white potato or a sweet potato.
Carbs are either simple or complex; simple carbohydrates are high in sugar whereas complex are high in fibre and take longer to digest - these are the ones we should be eating more of and are mainly found in plant-based foods.
Myth 2: Lifting weights will make me bulky
Fact: Including weights can increase bone density and improve lean body mass
Amy said: “Having worked in a gym for eight years I’ve had people tell me they want to lose weight/tone up but they do not want to lift heavy weights because they don’t want to get too bulky.”
However, there are different ways of weight training, such as strength training and hypotrophy training (to gain muscle mass). It takes a lot of work (and a long time) to build muscle, along with consistency and a structured diet plan. Women in particular find it harder to gain muscle due to lower testosterone levels.
If you want to work on your body composition, then resistance and weight training is the way forward. It can also help in many other ways such as increasing bone density, improving lean body mass and feeling strong, as well as helping with your mental health.
Myth 3: Eating carbs after 7pm is bad for you
Fact: Weight gain is caused by a calorie surplus, not timing
You’ll only gain weight from eating carbs after 7pm if you are over in your calorie intake for that day. Eating carbs in the evening can have great benefits; for example, if you trained for 45 minutes at 18:30pm you’re going to want to eat carbs to refuel your body after training.
Eating carbs later in the day can also have great benefits, especially for women going through the menopause as they help aid sleep, and allows your body to grow and repair, aiding fat loss.
The goal is to figure out how many calories you can have during the day to lose or maintain weight and distribute those calories/foods in a manner that makes you feel your best, including preventing hunger. If you do this regularly, then you will accomplish your goal no matter what time you eat.
Myth 4: Weight loss and fat loss are the same thing
Fact: Don’t rely on the scales to see progress
This is a very common misunderstanding; if someone completes a 4-week weight loss program and they’ve been in a calorie deficit the last 4 weeks but their weight stays the same on the scale, this can be disheartening. But your weight on the scales doesn’t tell the whole story - you don’t know your lean body mass or your lean body mass percentage.
With a good weight training, resistance training and cardio training programme your body fat percentage will drop, you need your body fat percentage to drop to show the toned muscles.
Amy says: “Your body weight doesn’t need to go down to see progress, track progress in other ways, such as taking measurements and pictures and focusing on how you feel.”
Myth 5: Cheat days will ruin everything you’ve worked for
Fact: It’s all about balance
If you’ve overeaten on a weekend and think you have blown everything you have worked for, then don’t worry. It’s all about consistency over a long period of time, consistency with your training programme, and consistency with a calories deficit if your goal is weight loss.
This doesn’t mean you have to be perfect every day, it means remaining steady over a long period of time. So, if you want to let go one weekend and enjoy a glass or two of wine it’s not going to make a big difference; however, if you overindulge on a regular basis then you’ll struggle to see results.
It’s important to remember the long term.
Amy says: “When you overindulge on a weekend and you weigh yourself on the Monday and you have gained weight, it’s likely to be water weight from the extra volume of food that your body needs to digest, rather than fat.”
Amy Rose is a personal trainer and nutritionist with over seven years’ experience. She’s currently the fitness and nutritional coach for XL@Football women’s club based in Kent. You can find out more about Amy and the services she offers on her website.
Read Amy’s previous article on kick-starting a healthy new year here.