By Bunmi Sofola
Some of the most ‘saintly’ assumptions could play havoc with your health.
Here’s why new findings believe you should drop the good-girl act and have fun keeping healthy:
You’ve cut out sweets and chocolate: If you’re trying to lose weight, not eating chocolate and other sweet food is a good idea but putting them on a list of food no-no can seriously backfire and ruin your weight-loss efforts.
The reason? Deprive yourself of something and you’re more likely to binge. In fact, researchers have found that successful dieters who lost weight and kept it off, didn’t ban any food and allowed themselves regular treats.
Instead: The key is to limit your intake to small amount and fulfil your urge by opting for truly decadent options – a small slice of super-rich chocolate cake is much more satisfying than lots of tasteless biscuits.
You rarely miss a day at the Gym: If you think never taking a breather from your workout makes you ultra-healthy, you’re mistaken.
Obviously being inactive isn’t a good idea, but exercising too often can also have a damaging effect on your health. Over-exercising can lead to muscle aches and tears, joint injuries, low energy levels, extreme tiredness, decreased immunity and even depression so it’s essential to give yourself time off. But that’s not all – exercising every day can prevent you from getting the results you deserve.
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It’s while your body is resting that it repairs muscle cells and syntheses new enzymes, mitochondria and capillaries, which makes you fitter. In other words, if you don’t give yourself a break, your fitness abilities won’t progress.
Instead: Exercise for a maximum of five days a week. And don’t worry about taking small work-out breaks – research shows that going for up to seven days without breaking a sweat won’t impact your fitness significantly.
**Your body fat is below 18 per cent: Not having enough body fat can be dangerous. Fat insulates nerve cells and internal organs and is necessary for the formation of hormones such as oestrogen. When body fat dips too low, you go into famine mode, which effectively shuts down all non-life-supporting functions such as ovulation and building new bone. And in many cases the damage can be permanent. Because oestrogen is involved in bone creation, which is still happening in your late 20s and 30s, your bone density could be affected for the rest of your life and you’ll increase the risk of osteoporosis. Being underweight can also mean you’re not getting all the nutrients you need and without those you’re likely to suffer from dry skin, hair loss, a weak immune system and exhaustion.
Instead: Ensure your weight and fat levels are within healthy limits. And remember, it’s just as unhealthy to be underweight as it is to be overweight.
You’ve cut out carbs: Carbohydrates are vital to our diets – despite what high-protein devotees claim. Carbs are the body’s primary source of fuel for muscles and the brain, and they’re packed full of essential nutrients which protect against chronic diseases such as cancer.
Instead: Nutritionists agree that the staple of any healthy diet are carbohydrates. For maximum health benefits, these carbohydrates should come from a variety of mostly wholegrain and unrefined foods. Look for those that are as unprocessed as possible, such as vegetable, wholegrain bread, pasta and rice. If you cut back on any type of carbohydrates, make it the refined sort, such as cakes, biscuits and sweets which are nutrient-poor.