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Personal trainer busts the top diet and fitness myths


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Each day, thousands of new fad diets and ‘fat-busting’ fitness programs flood social media feeds and forums across Australia. 

And while some of them are legitimate, contradictory information makes it difficult for those embarking on a fitness and health regime to make changes that are appropriate for them.

To help break through the information overload, Australian personal trainer and performance nutrition coach, Camilla Akerberg, has busted the most common diet and fitness myths she’s come across in her career.

Here, the health expert and model speaks to FEMAIL about what she’s learned so far and shared what all women should know about working out, diet basics and building muscle.

 

Australian personal trainer and performance nutrition coach, Camilla Akerberg, has busted the most common diet and fitness myths she’s come across in her career

Here, the health expert and model speaks to FEMAIL about what she's learned so far and shared what all women should know about working out, diet basics and building muscle

Here, the health expert and model speaks to FEMAIL about what she’s learned so far and shared what all women should know about working out, diet basics and building muscle

MYTH ONE: YOU HAVE TO DO INTENSE CARDIO FIVE TIMES A WEEK TO LOSE WEIGHT AND TONE UP

‘To lose weight and tone up you do not have to do intense cardio five times per week to get results,’ Camilla said. 

‘If you don’t already have a good muscle volume – this method can leave you looking skinny-fat rather than the desired toned and fit look.  

”Toned’ usually refers to when you can see some muscle definition of the body. In order to achieve a toned body you should include weight training in your regime to build lean muscle mass, and you also need to shed a layer of fat covering your muscles.’

'To lose weight and tone up you do not have to do intense cardio five times per week to get results,' Camilla said

‘To lose weight and tone up you do not have to do intense cardio five times per week to get results,’ Camilla said

The three components to follow to lose fat and tone up 

A combination of the following three components will help you lose fat and tone up:

1. Include strength training in your training regime

Don’t be scared of lifting weight girls! Lifting weights and building lean muscle mass is a key factor to toning up! This is the method I personally use to maintain my physique! You need to put your muscles under enough stress to reap the benefits of hypertrophy, and this is best done under a relatively heavy load for 8-12 reps.

Lifting weights will help you tone up and lose weight for these two main reasons –  the more muscle mass you have the quicker your resting metabolism rate will be and if you include big compound movements to your training regime and keep rest periods shorter, you will elevate your heart rate and reap the fat-loss benefits you get from cardiovascular training!

2. Do cardio as part of your training program not your entire training regime

Especially if you have quite a lot of fat to lose, doing a combination of cardio and strength training is the most effective. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), is an effective training method to consider making part of your cardio training program component. Through this way of training, your body will continue to burn calories long after you have finished your session.

3. Your diet is the key to any transformation

Your diet is also not to be forgotten- if you want to lose fat, you need to consume less calories than what you use in total to help shed that layer of fat off your muscles. Understanding your own body and what foods work best for you will greatly help you achieve your goal.

Check out my 12 week challenge here 

MYTH TWO: YOU HAVE TO EAT LEAFY GREENS AND CUT OUT ALL SUGAR AND ALCOHOL TO SEE RESULTS   

‘Myth busted! You do not have to eat mainly leafy greens and cut out all sugar and alcohol entirely to see results,’ Camilla said.

‘A balanced diet, with a variety of nutritious foods including fibrous greens and vegetables, fresh fruits and berries, lean proteins, healthy fats and good carbohydrates is the key for long-term results. 

‘Being too strict with yourself like cutting out all sugar and alcohol and eating almost solely leafy greens is not sustainable, and you will most likely end up binge eating and giving up on your diet.’ 

'Myth busted! You do not have to eat mainly leafy greens and cut out all sugar and alcohol entirely to see results,' Camilla said

‘Myth busted! You do not have to eat mainly leafy greens and cut out all sugar and alcohol entirely to see results,’ Camilla said

What happens if you don’t eat enough? 

If on a diet with too little food you may end up impacting your hormone levels negatively. 

Thanks to evolution, as a survival instinct our bodies are designed to hold on to energy if food is scarce. 

Your metabolism will slow down and your hormones that tell your body to burn fat will drop. Due to hormonal changes, you may also lose the ability to feel full. Keeping your hormone profile in a healthy state is a major key for weight loss.

Camilla said it is important to eat enough to keep the metabolism fast and to simply eat more of the good and less of the bad.  

‘A small salad a day and an overdose of cardio seems to be a common perception of what you need to do to see weight loss results. Getting leaner, or maintaining a toned physique is NOT about not eating,’ she said. 

‘It’s about eating the right nutrition in the right amounts that suits your body and your goal. Food is not the enemy, but the key to a healthy body, a fast metabolism and the ability to get results. 

‘Try and fill your plate with non-processed foods as much as possible, so that there is less room for processed foods and added sugar in your diet. Processed foods, junk foods and added sugar in your diet can result in high blood sugars spikes which in surplus can lead to conversion into excess body fat.

‘Cutting out alcohol completely out of your diet is for most of us not maintainable either. But remember to only drink occasionally and in moderation. Alcohol stimulates your hunger and inhibits your body to break down and digest nutrients in your foods effectively.’

Camilla said it is important to eat enough to keep the metabolism fast and to simply eat more of the good and less of the bad

Camilla said it is important to eat enough to keep the metabolism fast and to simply eat more of the good and less of the bad

MYTH THREE: YOU NEED TO DO HUNDREDS OF CRUNCHES AND SIT-UPS TO GET AMAZING ABS   

‘We all have a six pack, but for most of us, abdominals are hidden under a layer of fat,’ Camilla said.

‘If your goal is to tone up your tummy you need to understand that you cannot spot reduce fat from around your abs and you need to work towards overall fat loss.   

‘You do not need to do hundreds of crunches and sit-ups to do this! ‘

Camilla said the first step to amazing abs is to understand that abs are ‘made in the kitchen’. 

'We all have a six pack, but for most of us, abdominals are hidden under a layer of fat,' Camilla said

‘We all have a six pack, but for most of us, abdominals are hidden under a layer of fat,’ Camilla said

 

What foods do you need in your diet? 

Protein: Eating protein promotes fat loss as it’s the most thermogenic macronutrient, meaning that you use the most energy to break it down in comparison to the other macronutrients

Healthy fats: Some healthy sources of healthy fats include almonds, walnuts, avocado, flaxseed oil and salmon 

High fibre carbs: Fibre helps keep your gut health in control. Fibre also helps you keep fuller for longer which will help you manage your food intake. They include colourful salads, fresh fruits and berries, roasted vegetables, beans and wholegrain products

Probiotics: Making gut health a priority will greatly aid you with your fat loss goal. A probiotic with its beneficial gut bacteria will support several processes that directly impact weight loss, including enhancing your metabolism

Water: Drinking enough water will keep you boost your metabolism, keep you hydrated, helps flush out waste such as sodium to help retain water and prevent bloating and acts as an appetite suppressant

‘To burn fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit meaning you need to consume less calories than what you use in a day. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t eat, but eat healthy foods in the right amount,’ she said. 

It is also crucial to train the right way.  

‘Cleaning up your diet really is a key to showing off your abs, but training play a role too. Combine lifting weights to tone up and lose weight with some cardio conditioning for sustainable results,’ she said. 

‘Remember that the more lean muscle you have on your body, the more calories you can burn at rest. This is the reason why balancing out your cardio with some strength training is the best for amazing results.’

One of the best ways to train is to train the entire core, not just the abs, to make them pop.   

‘The foundation to a great set of abs is a strong core. Your core is the midsection of your body. It involves all muscles in your front, in your back and on your sides. The muscles in your core are stabilisers for your entire physique and a vital part to keep strong for a healthy body and to shape the visual aspect of your abs,’ she said.  

‘Core training can be defined as doing specific exercises to develop and strengthen your midsections stabiliser muscles. This involves a big variety of exercises to target all areas, and not only sit-ups and crunches! Also remember that big compound movements and balancing exercises target your core effectively.’

'Cleaning up your diet really is a key to showing off your abs, but training play a role too. Combine lifting weights to tone up and lose weight with some cardio conditioning for sustainable results,' she said

‘Cleaning up your diet really is a key to showing off your abs, but training play a role too. Combine lifting weights to tone up and lose weight with some cardio conditioning for sustainable results,’ she said

'Core training can be defined as doing specific exercises to develop and strengthen your midsections stabiliser muscles,' she said

‘Core training can be defined as doing specific exercises to develop and strengthen your midsections stabiliser muscles,’ she said

MYTH FOUR: YOU NEED TO DO HUNDREDS OF SQUATS FOR A PERFECT BUM   

‘Without a doubt, having a good booty is one of the most desired fitness goals for women,’ Camilla said. 

‘There is controversy surrounding the best way to train the glutes, but one thing is for sure – you do not need to do hundreds of squats to get a perfect bum!

‘With a lower back injury, heavy squats is something I have stayed away from for years. And in fact the squat does not activate our glutes to the highest degree compared to many other glute exercises. 

‘Squats are a great exercise, but they will not alone maximise glute development. Add variation to your program! Include hip thrusts, back extensions with glute squeeze and donkey kicks.’

'There is controversy surrounding the best way to train the glutes, but one thing is for sure - you do not need to do hundreds of squats to get a perfect bum!' She said

‘There is controversy surrounding the best way to train the glutes, but one thing is for sure – you do not need to do hundreds of squats to get a perfect bum!’ She said

'Without a doubt, having a good booty is one of the most desired fitness goals for women,' Camilla said

‘Without a doubt, having a good booty is one of the most desired fitness goals for women,’ Camilla said

Camilla said it’s important to train the glutes multiple times a week and with a variety of ‘rep ranges’. 

‘Our glutes are in fact made up of a combination of slow and fast-twitch muscle fibres,’ she said. 

‘Fast-twitch muscle fibres are best trained with heavy weights and a low rep range. But, as the gluteus maximus is not primarily a fast twitch muscle, both higher reps (with less weight) and lower reps (with more weight) should be performed when training the glutes for increasing muscular hypertrophy. 

‘Booty activation exercises before heavier lifts with a higher rep range is a great way to include into your training routine and will help you engage your glute muscles and prepare you for the lower rep exercises.’

'Squats are a great exercise, but they will not alone maximise glute development. Add variation to your program! Include hip thrusts, back extensions with glute squeeze and donkey kicks,' she said 

‘Squats are a great exercise, but they will not alone maximise glute development. Add variation to your program! Include hip thrusts, back extensions with glute squeeze and donkey kicks,’ she said 

'Booty activation exercises before heavier lifts with a higher rep range is a great way to include into your training routine and will help you engage your glute muscles,' she said 

‘Booty activation exercises before heavier lifts with a higher rep range is a great way to include into your training routine and will help you engage your glute muscles,’ she said 

MYTH FIVE: CALORIE COUNTING IS THE BEST WAY TO SEE RESULTS FAST   

‘We all know that concept of energy (calories) in and out of our bodies does matter. If you consume more energy than what you use, the excess energy will be stored as body fat,’ Camilla said. 

‘If you use more energy than what you consume, you will lose weight. But counting calories everyday really IS NOT a maintainable way to live.’

Camilla said people simply ‘get sick of counting calories’ and advises them to adopt a more sustainable approach.   

‘When you put the focus on counting calories you can often forget the nutritional value of foods. Instead on fixating on the numbers, put an effort in to choosing healthy options,’ she said. 

‘Fill your diet with greens, vegetables, fruits and berries, lean proteins, good fibrous carbohydrates and healthy fats. Limit processed foods, junk foods, added sugars and too much alcohol. You will be surprised how changes as such in your diet will make a big difference to your well being and results.’ 

'If you use more energy than what you consume, you will lose weight. But counting calories everyday really IS NOT a maintainable way to live,' Camilla said 

‘If you use more energy than what you consume, you will lose weight. But counting calories everyday really IS NOT a maintainable way to live,’ Camilla said 

'Understanding your own body, listening to it and eating foods that you feel good inside out eating is ket,' she said

‘Understanding your own body, listening to it and eating foods that you feel good inside out eating is ket,’ she said

So what is the best way to see results with a diet?  

‘Understanding your own body, listening to it and eating foods that you feel good inside out eating is ket,’ she said. 

‘Trial and error can sometimes be the best approach. The best diet is one you can keep – achieving results is all about consistency! 

‘It’s typically the diet that is filled with foods you enjoy that you will follow, as well as are healthy for you so that you can get results. Counting calories is a good way to get an understanding of your energy input, but counting them from day to day is not a sustainable approach to getting results!’

Camilla has a four week nutrition transformation program to help people learn more about their bodies. 

Camilla has a four week nutrition transformation program to help people learn more about their bodies

Camilla has a four week nutrition transformation program to help people learn more about their bodies

MYTH SIX: YOU HAVE TO CUT FOOD GROUPS ENTIRELY AND YOU CAN’T HAVE CHEAT MEALS 

‘I don’t recommend cutting out any food groups completely. It’s about balance and eating things in moderation,’ Caimlla said. 

‘Eat as much fresh food as possible and limit empty calories that are low in nutrients.’

Cheat meals are also okay.   

‘I love Thai food so this is a cheat meal go-to option for me,’ Camilla said. 

‘I am such a sweet-tooth however and love lollies (red liquorice and salty liquorice are some of my favourites) and chocolate. 

‘Cheat meals are not your enemy if you plan them right and keep consistent with your healthy choices.’



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