Do energy-boosting supplements really work? Is there any truth to the old saying, "no pain, no gain"? We bust some of the biggest health myths.
1. Sweating will get you fitter faster
While sweating does make your heart work harder and does burn more calories, it does so at the risk of injury. So, in actual fact, instead of aiming for a sweat-dripping workout you should try to avoid excessive sweating when exercising. Why? Because the energy required to cool the body comes from the sweat glands, which lie just underneath the skin.
Metabolic energy is used to secrete sweat, and the more energy that is drained from the body in the form of sweat, the less that is left over for your muscles and other bodily functions. Therefore, the more you sweat, the less effective your muscles become, and the less effective your workout is.
2. No pain, no gain
Minor aches and pains are to be expected when exercising, especially if your body's not used to physical exertion, but the pain should not be unbearable. Remember, pain is your body's way of telling you that something's not quite right, and this is a cue for you to stop what you're doing.
3. Never drink water while exercising
Wrong! You should always top up your water supplies while exercising, and if you feel like you've lost water you should replace it immediately. This is important because the cells in your body rely on circulation for energy and to get rid of waste.
But when you become dehydrated the fluids surrounding the cells begin to disappear these cells then struggle to perform properly until this fluid is restored. When this happens, your muscles find it hard to keep up and as a result you heart bears the strain.
4. Eating food late at night will make you fat
The logic with this one is that if you eat late at night your body will store more fats as you're not burning it off with any activity. However, a study by the UK's Dunn Human Nutrition Unit suggests otherwise. They found that eating a large meal at night did not make the body store more fat; rather it's the total amount of food eaten over a 24-hour period that's significant.
5. Potatoes are the dieter's enemy
Eating carbs was once a big no-no in dieting terms, but we now know that the likes of potatoes, rice and pasta are the body's preferred energy source. In order to actually gain weight, however, you need to regularly eat more energy than your body requires and this is hard to do by eating carbs alone.
6. Skipping breakfast will help me lose weight
Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day when you've been sleeping for eight hours your body needs to 'break' the fast in order to properly function. And although those who do skip their Weetbix are able to catch up on their energy requirements later on in the day, they're unlikely to get all of the vitamins and minerals that breakfast can supply.
7. Bananas are the best source of potassium and energy
They are a good source but there remains some debate regarding whether or not bananas have a high glycemic index value, which spikes blood sugar and disrupts long-term energy levels. If you're looking for an alternative, celery contains more potassium and Chinese wolfberries are a better, more balanced form of energy and nutrition, as well as a host of other vitamins.
8. Caffeinated drinks are a good source of energy
Energy drinks may give drinkers a super-sized zap of instant energy, but reports suggest they're also linked to nausea and abnormal heart rhythms. On top of this, new reports also suggest the desire to knock back caffeine-rich beverages indicates an increased desire in risk taking.
In 2008, The Journal of American College Health published a report on the links between energy drinks and risky behaviour, saying the consumption of energy-boosting drinks is associated with unprotected sex, substance abuse and violence.
9. Afternoon sugar fixes will see you through the 3pm slump
It's true that sugar provides a sudden spike in blood sugar, which will make you feel instantly energised, but the flipside is that after an hour or so your energy levels will plummet and you'll be left feeling sluggish. Sugary snacks "set the body up on a yo-yo," says US-based nutritionist Kristen Schiener. "You'll experience a surge of energy but then everything crashes."
10. Broken sleep will put you in a bad mood
Actually, the opposite is true if you're woken by bright sunlight, that is. Recent research suggests exposure to bright light early in the day can increase energy for the rest of the day, this is thought to be due to the fact that light stimulates neurotransmitters in the brain, which in turn improve mood and motivation.