Diet & exercise myths


Trying to lose weight? It may seem a straight-forward concept, but there is a wealth of misleading information out there which can leave you feeling confused and far from achieving your goals. These tips will help to dispel a couple of common diet and exercise myths which may be holding you back.


The myth: Sit-ups will give me a flat stomach.

The reality: Many people’s stomachs are flabby due to excess fat rather than weak stomach muscles. Whilst correctly performed sit-ups will help strengthen your muscles, you won’t see the definition you crave unless you first lose the layer of fat resting on top.

If you really want to see results, try interval training in combination with crunches and you will both burn fat and strengthen abdominal muscles.


The myth: If I exercise a lot,  I can eat whatever I want.

The reality: Even if you’re in the gym every day of the week, it doesn’t give you a license to forgo a healthy diet. It is all too easy to out-eat your workout and undo all your calorie-burning efforts.

If you want to see results, try consuming 250 fewer daily calories whilst burning an extra 250 calories per day in the gym: this creates enough of a calorie deficit to achieve an average weight loss of a pound a week.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Ditch the scales


When trying to trim down, the numbers you see on the scales can really make or break your mood and motivation. However, it is a mistake to assume that your weight is always a true measure of your progress.

If you are exercising regularly you may be putting on muscle whilst losing fat (thus losing inches without losing pounds). It’s therefore a better idea to take regular body measurements rather than simply rely on the numbers on the scales.


For every extra pound of muscle you put on, your body uses up around 50 extra calories a day. This is because muscle is metabolically active and burns more calories than other body tissue, even when you’re not moving.

Training with weights just 3 times a week for around 20 minutes is enough to help you build muscle. Not only will you be burning more calories but you’ll look leaner and fitter, whatever your weight.


 You don’t need to overeat to build muscle, but it is important to focus on the quality of your food choices. Rather than consuming empty calories, try to choose natural, nutritious foods that your body can really benefit from.

You can start by ensuring that each of your meals contains at least one form of fruit or vegetables, a small portion of whole grains (such as brown rice, wholemeal bread or whole wheat pasta) and a good, lean protein source.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Stay positive


What are your goals? If you don’t know why you want to achieve something, it won’t be as important for you to get it.

By focusing on positive goals (such as “I want to look great in my bikini on holiday” rather than “I don’t want to be this big and fat”) it will be easier to visualise them and you’ll be more inclined to work towards them.


The ultimate cure for lack of motivation is results. If you can maintain a positive attitude and keep up your exercise programme on a regular basis, you will soon be spurred on by the changes you see and feel.

Leading a happier, healthier life and watching the body you have always wanted develop right before your eyes can be incredibly motivational and empowering.


When a lot of the foods you love are prohibited, you are likely to feel unhappy and deprived. This is a diet disaster as it’s by far the easiest way to fall off the wagon.

To help avoid this trap, allow yourself a little of what you fancy each day but do so in moderation. Savour each bite and feel good about it; you are then better equipped to get back to your healthy eating plan without feeling guilty or resentful about it.

© Sarah West Nutrition

Snack attack


Although you may feel guilty about snacking, eating between meals doesn’t need to be a weight loss disaster. In fact, grazing on small amounts of food throughout the day can help you to avoid extreme hunger and prevent you from overeating at your next meal.

The key is to keep moderation and balance in mind. Select foods that will satisfy your hunger, supply your body with lasting energy and provide you with key nutrients. If it doesn’t fit this description, then don’t eat it!


After a workout try snacking on a handful of raw unsalted nuts, celery sticks with peanut butter, some cottage cheese with fruit or chopped vegetables with hummous.

The protein in these snacks is important for preserving existing muscle mass (which can help boost your metabolism) and will also help keep you full up for longer, without undoing all your efforts in the gym.


The key to healthy snacking is preparation. With a little planning you can ensure you always have a selection of healthy snacks in your bag or desk drawer so that you’re ready to make the right choices when temptation strikes.

By keeping the right kinds of foods handy, heeding your hunger pangs can become an important part of your weight loss journey.

© Sarah West Nutrition