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Ask a Health Coach: Common Nutrition Myths Debunked

Some self-help training and important posts on healthy living with Thai Oil Massage.

frying an egg hands and pans shot in an article about nutrition mythsHey folks! This week Erin is shedding light on the truth behind common nutrition myths – everything from the “8 glasses of water per day” rule to the benefits of longer fasts and the best forms of exercise. Got more questions? We love getting them, so post yours below in the comments section or over in the .

Jaime asked:

“I always hear that I should be drinking eight glasses of water a day, but it takes a lot of unnatural effort to get close to that. Is it just me? What’s your take on the water rule?”

The body has a miraculous system for preventing dehydration. It’s called thirst. So, that 8-glasses-of-water rule you’ve been trying to follow? It’s fine if you like doing it, but probably not essential. Drinking 8 glasses of water – or half your bodyweight in ounces of water – is one of the most common nutrition myths out there.

It’s based on outdated guidelines from the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board that said people should consume roughly 2.5 liters of water a day (and here’s the part most people missed), .

That being said, it might be easier to eat your way to better hydration rather than guzzle it from your water bottle. Here are a few of my favorite hydrating foods if you choose to go that route:

  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Zucchini
  • Watermelon
  • Berries

With everyone toting around their high-tech water bottles, chugging gallons of water at the gym, and gushing over their favorite filtration systems, it seems the hydration mandate has been burned into our subconscious. Conventional wisdom has us believing that if we’re not drinking non-stop, we’ll be subject to constipation, kidney stones, UTIs, and unneeded hunger (spoiler alert: if you feel hungry, you just might actually be hungry, not thirsty, like you might have heard).

Instead of force-drinking your daily H2O, try tapping into these things first.

  1. Notice when your lips get dry. Or when your throat gets a little scratchy. That’s your body giving you not-so-subtle signals that you’re thirsty.
  2. Respond accordingly. Drink some water or have a piece of fruit. Heck, you could even have a cup of coffee or tea since .
  3. Pay attention to your conditions. Did you just come back from a long run? Do you live in a hot or humid location or at a higher altitude? There’s a good chance you need to hydrate.
  4. Use sea salt or electrolytes. Especially if you follow a keto or low-carb diet. has tons of great info on why it’s important. Long story short: a hydration plan is not just about drinking water.

Martine asked:

“I’ve been doing keto for a while and still can’t seem to go more than 12 hours before I get hungry. Might be all the walking I do, but it sure would be nice to fast longer. Any advice?”

I love a good satiating eating plan – it really is the ultimate metabolic secret weapon. Kudos to you for achieving 12 hours of satiety! Total game-changer.

instead of glucose. And in general, this stabilizes your blood sugar, keeps your cravings at bay, and allows you to fast for longer periods of time.

Here’s the thing though. Everyone has different needs, so, you could see someone killing a 16-, 24- or even 72-hour fast while you’re barely making it 12. That doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong. You may, in fact, be doing it exactly right — for you.

There are tons of ways to practice IF. One of the most common being a 12-hour fast. And studies show that longer fasts aren’t necessarily better.

Also, the idea that you shouldn’t ever be hungry when you eat keto is nonsense. Your body is designed to give you signals (yes, hunger is a signal). Instead of fighting hunger or worrying/wondering why you can’t go longer, try tuning in and trusting what it’s telling you.

Have some appreciation for the fact that you’ve transitioned away from a Standard American Diet and embraced a way of eating that’s better for your overall health. Be grateful for a body that can keep you satiated for a whopping 12 hours, without scrounging around the kitchen looking for something snacky.

Honor your hunger levels and know that you’re doing what’s right for your body, right now. As you continue, you might find that you can and want to go longer, but it’s not a hard and fast rule for eating keto.

Eat when you’re hungry. Don’t stress about it. And remember, you’re doing great.

Kristin asked:

“There are so many opinions out there regarding how one should exercise. In the past, I’ve started and stopped so many different workouts and ways of training because I get overwhelmed about which is the best. Hoping you can add some clarity!”

Ask ten different people what the best form of exercise is, and you’ll likely get ten different answers. Why? Because your goals aren’t necessarily their goals. Also, your body is probably going to respond differently than their body, considering you’ve got different metabolic needs, different caloric intakes, and different lifestyles.

If it was that easy to put out a one-size-fits-all exercise routine (that works) we’d all be effortlessly chiseled. That’s why a lot of folks like working with a or personal trainer — someone who can create a customized plan. But you don’t have to work with a health professional to figure out what workout is right. :

  1. What are your goals? Are they to lose fat/build muscle, get healthy, reduce stress, carry more grocery bags from the car?
  2. How much time are you willing to dedicate per week? Twenty minutes per day? An hour? Only on weekends?
  3. What kind of exercise do you enjoy? Running, biking, hiking with your kids, jazzercise, strength training, dancing, planks, gardening, walking the dog?
  4. When are you planning to work out? The clearer you can be about the what and the when, the more apt you are to do it. Are mornings good? How about after work? Or ?
  5. What’s your why? Your motivation will always waver, but remembering why this goal is important to you (and the consequence of not achieving your goal) will keep you showing up every time.

As you can probably guess, the only exercises that work are the ones you do. So, if someone tells you that CrossFit is the best workout, or HITT training, or low-intensity exercises — and you hate doing them – then they’re not the best for you.

What nutrition myths did I miss? Share ‘em in the comments.

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