Eating fat does not make you fat.
No matter how hard you try, you cannot make up for lost sleep on the weekends.
If you think getting the flu shot will give you influenza, it’s time to reconsider where you get your information.
Do you ever feel like you’re on information overload when it comes to your health? Depending on what’s trending online, what’s good for you one day is considered pure evil the next. And with so many people weighing in on the latest nutrition, exercise, sleep, and overall wellness crazes, it can be hard to know who to believe.
That’s why INSIDER talked with four experts about some of the more common health myths that seem to be scrapped more than others.
Myth: You can make up for lost sleep on the weekends.
Do you ever get to the weekend and think you can finally get caught up on all of the sleep you missed during your hectic week? Catching up on sleep sounds nice, but it doesn’t work quite work the way you think it does.
“Short sleep all week followed by sleep binging on the weekends isn’t ideal for your long-term health,” sleep expert Chris Brantner told INSIDER. In fact, although you might feel better on Saturday, it can actually mess you up for the rest of the week. What often happens, said Brantner, is that people barely sleep during the work week, then sleep in late on Saturdays and Sundays to try and make up.
Even though you’re catching a few more Z’s on the weekend, this method of sleep throws off your entire schedule.
“The result is that you have a harder time to get to sleep on Sunday evening, which sets you up for a terrible Monday, not to mention for a totally messed up sleep schedule during the week,” he explained. Brantner recommended setting both a bedtime and a wake time for yourself and doing your best to stick to it all week long, including the weekends.
Myth: Getting the flu shot can give you the flu.
You’ve probably heard this from your friend who is dead-set against getting the flu shot. But turns out they’re mistaken because, “the flu shot cannot make you sick with influenza,” Dr. Tania Elliott, board-certified Allergist and Internist and Chief Medical Officer at EHE, told INSIDER.
According to Elliott, vaccinations may contain viruses, but they’ve been inactivated and are incapable of making you ill. However, because the flu shot can lead to potential side effects like body aches and low-grade fever that may overlap with certain flu symptoms, people mistakenly conflate the two.
“It’s extremely important to be vaccinated against the flu, which makes this myth damaging to individuals and the community alike,” she explained. The Centers for Disease Control recommend that most people without extenuating medical circumstances get an annual vaccination for their own health, and the public’s.
Myth: Taking a nap during the day will interfere with your nighttime sleep.
It’s not uncommon to hear people say that you shouldn’t take nap during the day, especially if you want a full night’s sleep. But the truth is, taking a nap can actually be good for your health. It’s the length of the nap that matters.
“The key to a good nap is to either take a short 20-minute power nap or go all in on a 1.5-hour nap. The short nap will keep you in light sleep, making it easy to wake up feeling refreshed, whereas the longer nap will get you through a full sleep cycle, which can really help you feel rejuvenated,” explained Brantner.
Anywhere in-between those times and you risk waking up during deeper sleep, which can leave you feeling exhausted and groggy.
Myth: You need sports drinks if you’re active.
Sports drink companies are making a lot of money off of adults and kids who think they need to rehydrate with these high-sugar drinks. But the truth is: sports drinks are not a great way to quench thirst since they have so many added sugars.
Dr. Christopher Hollingsworth of NYC Surgical Associates, told INSIDER that these drinks should only be consumed when energy is needed after long periods of exercise (ie: a marathon). If you are feeling dehydrated or just thirsty in general, the best way to help that is to sacrifice the fruity flavors and drink water. If you’re really not into plain water, you can add some fresh fruit to give it a kick.
Myth: Carbohydrates make you fat
Despite what you’ve been told, your body needs carbohydrates, plain and simple. Paul Salter, RD, nutrition editor at bodybuilding.com and the founder of Fit In Your Dress, told INSIDER that carbohydrates are your brain, heart, nervous system, and muscles’ primary source of energy. Skimping on carbs can negatively impact your mood, focus, performance and recovery.
He said instead of being afraid of carbs, embrace them, and focus on high-fiber nutrient-dense options.
Myth: You need to eat a very low-fat diet to lose fat.
If your cupboards are full of fat-free foods, then read on. This myth is for you. Eating fat will not make you fat.
“Eating more calories than you’re burning will make you [gain weight],” said Salter. He recommended including unsaturated fat in your diet in order to enhance energy, well-being, mood, cognitive function, heart health, and exercise performance and recovery.
His suggestion: focus on making healthy fats a staple in your day but be mindful of portion sizes because fat does provide more than twice as many calories as protein or carbohydrates.
Myth: Fasted exercise burns more fat.
The belief goes something like this, said Salter: If you exercise without fuel (carbs) your body has to use stored fuel (fat) especially at lower intensities when fat is primarily used. The reality is, you should eat before you workout.
“This will help with muscle maintenance, which is crucial in enhancing the number of calories burned per day and inevitably has a positive contribution to weight loss and your weight-loss physique,” he explained. Plus, eating before you workout can also provide more energy to propel you through a better workout, which Salter said, yields better results over time.
Read next on Business Insider: There’s no such thing as being right or left-brained — here are 10 misconceptions about the human brain we always get wrong
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