No one can deny that keeping up with the latest health and fitness news can be challenging. And while most of us try to practice some healthy habits daily, some of the things we’re doing might actually not be so good for us.
No one wants to intentionally sabotage their health, so separating fact from fiction is important. These habits seem healthy, but they may actually be harmful.
Trying to ‘catch up’ on sleep
You’re better off getting the proper amount of sleep during the week. | Wavebreakmedia/Getty Images
If you stay up too late and get up too early all week, it’s only natural to want to sleep in on Saturdays. But while that may make you feel better initially, it won’t cancel out your sleep debt, which is the hours of sleep you’ve been missing out on over time. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to some serious health issues, so it’s best to add an hour or two of sleep to your nightly schedule during the week.
Next: We’ve been told this was a healthy habit for years, but that may not be true.
Eating 5-6 small meals a day
It turns out all of those small meals may not be so great for you after all. | Mukhina1/iStock/Getty Images
You may have heard that the best way to lose weight is to eat several small meals every day instead of three larger ones. But the latest research doesn’t support the theory that it speeds up your metabolism — and, in fact, it may actually be damaging your health. Eating this way could interfere with the mechanism that burns fat as fuel and send calories right to fat stores.
Everybody is different, and you have to do what works for you, but if you’ve tried this method and you haven’t seen success, it’s perfectly fine to ditch it.
Next: In this case, go for the full-fat version.
Putting low-fat dressing on your salads
Low-fat doesn’t mean healthy. | Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images
Having a veggie-packed salad for lunch is always a good idea, but if you add fat-free dressing to it, you’re making it more difficult for your body to absorb the salad’s nutrients. Go ahead and choose a dressing with an olive, canola, or avocado oil base and enjoy the full flavor.
Next: This habit can be healthy, but it’s easy to get it wrong.
Replacing your breakfast or lunch with a smoothie
A smoothie doesn’t contain all the nutrients you need. | Dirima/iStock/Getty Images Plus
No one is denying that homemade smoothies can be healthy — they’re often loaded with fruit and water or nut milk. But consuming large amounts of sugar, even the kind found in fruit, can lead to a giant spike in your insulin levels … and then there’s also the fact that, without protein, you won’t stay full. You may want to stick to nutritious whole foods instead.
Next: This is good news for bread lovers.
Cutting out carbs
Carbs have a purpose, and you shouldn’t cut them completely. | janetleerhodes/Getty Images
The debate on whether carbs are good or bad is seemingly endless. But any nutritionist will tell you that carbs are not the enemy — refined carbs should be eaten in moderation, but complex carbs are high in fiber, digested slowly, and can even help you sleep. Enjoy them.
Next: Work smarter, not harder.
Frequent lengthy workouts
Hard workouts aren’t always the answer. | Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Getty Images
The benefits of exercise are undeniable, but a common misconception is that more is always better. Killing yourself with an hour of cardio every single day not only won’t help you lose weight but can actually stress out your body. You should aim to exercise three to five times a week, but there’s no need to break a world record for length, especially when studies show even 10 minutes of movement a day is beneficial.
Next: People who do this daily often just wind up depressed.
Weighing yourself too frequently
Weighing yourself isn’t always bad — but doing it all the time is. | FotoCuisinette/iStock/Getty Images
Many people try to monitor their weight by weighing themselves daily, but that’s something that can do more harm than good. It’s natural for your weight to fluctuate throughout the day or the week whether you’ve stuck to your diet and exercise plan or not, and weight loss is not the same as fat loss. Weighing yourself every two to four weeks is perfectly fine.
Next: Keep this in mind during cold and flu season.
Drinking orange juice to cure a cold
It’s delicious, but it won’t help you get any better. | iStock/Getty Images
Using OJ to help curb a cold is a tale as old as time, but it’s one we need to stop telling ourselves. Orange juice does contain a lot of vitamin C, but it’s also loaded with sugar, which can actually make you sicker by slowing down your immune system. When you feel a cold coming on, drink extra water and eat a whole orange instead.
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