Killing More Myths: Crunches, Kidneys, & Carbs

Myth 1: Crunches Will Give You Abs

Sadly, crunches are not likely to get you the shredded six pack or toned tummy you always wanted.  In fact, pretty much no ab exercise will.  Truth is, the major limiting factor keeping most people from seeing their abs is too much body fat.  That’s right, you can have the most well developed abs on the block, but if your body fat levels are less than stellar, no one will know it.  And since there’s no way to spot reduce body fat, crunches are out as a method for reducing that fat.

True, crunches might help you build bigger abdominal muscles, which could pay off in the long run if your body fat is low enough, but again, muscle size is not usually the limiting factor for “sick abs”, body fat is.  Want to see your abs this summer?  Get to work on the body fat.

Myth 2: Too Much Protein Will Hurt Your Kidneys

There is actually research to support the fact that high protein consumption is bad for your kidneys…if you have kidney disfunction.  There is absolutely no research to support the claim in healthy people, and plenty that shows no ill effect on healthy kidneys.  Extrapolating from a diseased population to a healthy one is just bad science.  I recommend a daily intake of at least 1 gram of protein intake per pound of bodyweight as a starting point for everyone.  Everyone who doesn’t have kidney disease that is.

Myth 3: I Need To Eat A Lot Of Carbs For Energy

This myth has long been perpetuated due to a misunderstanding about the way the body handles fuel substrates.  Yes, glucose (a carbohydrate) is your body’s preferred fuel source at the cellular level.  Yes, you can supply your body with glucose by eating carbohydrates.  However, your body creates glucose from many sources, and you could theoretically live a perfectly healthy life without ever eating a carbohydrate (although it would be nearly impossible to avoid them).

The terms “energy” is what gets confusing here.  Cellular “energy,” supplied by glucose and other substances, is very different from the “energy” you feel in your day to day life.  If you lack energy on a day to day basis, it’s almost certainly not because you are lacking dietary carbohydrates.

Ironically, eating large amounts of carbs can be counter productive to energy levels.  A carbohydrate heavy meal will indeed flood the blood stream with glucose.  Unfortunately, that glucose leads to high levels of insulin secretion, which shuttles away all the glucose into storage (mostly in fat cells), leaving you with even lower blood glucose levels than before and probably ready to fall asleep.  In fact, slow digesting meals high in proteins and fats tend to leave you satiated and energized for much longer.  More on insulin here.

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