Five Diet and Exercise Myths that Need to Die

Here they are: 1) Long Cardio Workouts are the Key to Weight Loss; 2) Diet and Exercise are Equal When it Comes to Losing Weight; 3) It Doesn’t Matter What Time of Day You Exercise; 4) Diet Foods Will Help You Lose Weight; 5) You’re Destined to Gain Weight as You Get Older.  These are myths that need to die!

The indefatigable Dr. Mercola recently wrote an article entitled 10 Exercise and Diet Myths that Won’t Go Away, five of which I want to share with you.

I’ll present the list with a brief commentary.  If interested, I suggest going to Dr. Mercola’s original article for the details.

Myth #1: Long Cardio Workouts are the Key to Weight Loss

More effective than long, sustained cardio-focused workouts are shorter, more intense exercises.  For instance, rather than jogging on the treadmill at a nine minute per mile pace for your entire ½ hour cardio workout, use the treadmill for 20 minutes and breakup your constant pace with a minute or more of fast running.

Myth #2: Diet and Exercise are Equal When it Comes to Losing Weight

Diet is three times more important than exercise when it comes to losing weight.  This is observable.  Look around at your fellow gym members who have been there forever, work out hard, may even have big muscles, but they’re covered in a fine, thick layer of fat.

The first thing to expunge from your diet should be fructose.  Fructose is hidden in virtually every processed food and tricks your body into gaining weight by confusing your metabolism as it turns off your body’s appetite-control system.

Myth #3: It Doesn’t Matter What Time of Day You Exercise

Dr. Mercola opines that although any time you exercise is better than not exercising at all, the best time to exercise is in the morning. I’ve read studies that suggest that the best time to exercise is generally unique to each individual.   For me it might be the early evening… for you, the morning.

The issue here is that finding out the best time to exercise is not easily determined without a lot of trial and error.  Thus, the best time for you should be the time of day you’re ready, willing and able to exercise.

Myth #4: Diet Foods Will Help You Lose Weight

If by diet food, you mean artificially designed low-fat food, forget about it!  Garbage like Splenda and aspartame may have zero calories, but your body receives this “sweet” taste, it expects calories to follow, and when this doesn’t occur it leads to distortions in your biochemistry that may actually lead to weight gain.

Myth #5: You’re Destined to Gain Weight as You Get Older

This is not destiny, but habit.  As most of us age, we become less active.  Two things then gradually happen over the years: 1. We lose muscle mass, and 2. We add fat.

Your body will naturally lose muscle mass after 40 years of age unless you actively perform the exercises that retain, or grow muscle – resistance training, such as calisthenics or weight lifting.  As the lean muscle tissue is lost, the body burns less calories that are required to feed the muscle; however, most of us don’t reduce the amount of calories that we eat.  The result – less muscle and more fat.

My body is a 1956 vintage and I have not gotten (much — ha!) fatter or lost muscle mass, so I know it’s not inevitable. I regularly exercise, particularly doing resistance training, and I eat healthily. To learn more about my diet, check out my post, Diet, Food and Nutrition.

Last Updated on February 12, 2019 by Joe Garma

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Joe Garma

I help people live with more vitality and strength. I'm a big believer in sustainability, and am a bit nutty about optimizing my diet, supplements, hormones and exercise. To get exclusive Updates, tips and be on your way to a stronger, more youthful body, join my weekly Newsletter. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 5 comments
Tummy tuck - August 10, 2011

Foods and exercise both are necessary for every weight watchers. But most of the weight watchers can’t extract control over eating foods.

Dan Butterfield - January 2, 2012

Been reading your blog and have become a fan! Thanks for continuing to share important exercise, health and nutrition info.

Now let me take slight issue with your responses under Myth #1: Long Cardio Workouts are the Key to Weight Loss and Myth #2: Diet and Exercise are Equal When it Comes to Losing Weight.

While it is unrealistic for all but the most dedicated, bio-mechanically sound (not injury prone) and athletically inclined, to CONSISTENTLY engage in REGULAR long cardio workouts, I do believe that such long cardio workouts are among the very best ways/means to lose weight. Serious fat burning kicks in after about 20 to 30 minutes in a cardio session and for extended sessions (10 to 20 mile runs, long bike rides) the fat burning can be substantial. Moreover, repeated long cardio sessions (with adequate rest between) will substantially raise the base metabolic rate and thereby enhance fat burning even during rest.

So while there are many other vital things to consider to control weight, and most are covered very well in your blog, I do think “long cardio” is darn close to being a “key” … albeit the mission can be accomplished sans “long cardio” if you follow much of the advice/guidance in your blog. 

I do want to give credence to the other point made under Myth #1 … that being short and intense workouts are important (e.g. “fast running”). I couldn’t agree more! Oft overlooked in the fitness/weight-loss equation, is the tremendous benefits that can be gained from anaerobic exercise. Once upon a time, I did plenty of short interval training on the track. And the short sprints help to build muscle, and also act to raise the body’s metabolic rate … and again this can help to burn fat for many hours post exercise.

Re the conclusion under Myth #2: Diet and Exercise are Equal When it Comes to Losing Weight.  While I agree that most people are kidding themselves when they think they can eat that extra helping of mashed potatoes and finish a double banana split, because they jogged a mile on the treadmill and did a few sit-ups earlier in the day … I don’t want to discount the value of exercise in the weigh loss equation. There are so many ancillary benefits to exercise, including but not limited to:
* Building muscle that raises metabolic rate
* The post exercise “fat burning” that occurs following long cardio sessions
* Improving self esteem that comes with a more toned and fit body that accompanies a solid exercise regime. Improved self-esteem helps to maintain focus on weight loss goals.

Just my 2 cents Joe … thanks much for Garma on Health

    Joseph Garma - January 3, 2012

    Wow, Dan, that was quite a comment! You obviously are an exerciser with experience and naturally have thereby developed some views on the matter. And I thank you for sharing them here!

    These “myths” I wrote about are informed by studies done on exercise and weight loss. But even the best conducted studies (double blind methods, large sample sizes, meticulous measuring and the like) can not account for the variances that exist for everyone.

    Surely, one combination of anaerobic and aerobic exercise will be more fruitful for one person than another, both in regard to development of lean body mass and performance. The question is, “What works best for the most?”, and that is what the science behind this myth busting tries to answer.

    So, if you can run or bike long distances every day, or every other day, hey — unless you eat at a trough – you’ll lose weight. But if you have less than an hour to exercise, you’ll build a better fat-burning furnace by combining aerobic producing activity with bursts of anaerobic stuff.


Bootcamp Pasadena - April 25, 2012

Well in this Modern Era when We’re living in fitness conscious time. Everyone has become a weight Watcher and so that’s why Food and the Exercise is so important for everyone. But need to know about the levels that everyone’s don’t know So about the levels and What should we do?
How should we do? This article accelerate my knowledge.

Evanston Personal Trainer - April 26, 2012

Yes light diet is good way to burn fat fast but don’t be over diet, 
should eat fresh fruits and vegetables, this should works too and
with that plenty of water in a day also works for me as well.


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