There’s no shortage of bad information floating around. A lot of it comes from magazines, some of it comes from doctors, and the rest comes from people who listen to magazines and doctors. (Shape Magazine’s online version) is a pretty popular health and fitness resource. More than 360,000 people like them on Facebook; not too shabby. So, when I came across their article, “7 Fitness Conundrums, Solved,” I was really hopeful (to be clear, it was a really, really, really small part of me that was hopeful) to read some good advice.

Let’s take a few minutes and grade how they did.

1. You’re late! Should you skip breakfast completely or grab a donut on your way to the gym?

Shape Magazine Suggests: 

In the morning, hydrating is first priority, says Dawn Weatherwax, RD, CSSD, sports nutritionist and author of The Official Snack Guide for Beleaguered Sports Parents. Drink 10 to 20 ounces of water on your way to your workout to help boost metabolism, burn fat, and build muscle.

“As for food, a piece of fruit is best if you’ve gone longer than 12 hours without eating—or have half a donut if it’s your only choice,” Weatherwax says.

When you do have time to plan, healthy pre-workout snacks include an apple with peanut butter, low-fat yogurt, or whole grain toast with peanut butter.

The Truth:

Shape Magazine — and Dr. Weatherwax — is nuts. Skipping breakfast is not just better than eating a donut, it’s not even in the same zip code. The fruit recommendation is nearly just as bad. Your best bet for a breakfast is fat and protein. And if you’re not going to have that, eating nothing is always the next best option.

Eating sugar in the form of fruit or donuts, on the other hand, sets you up for immense failure via increased hormone response which will create a subsequent drop in blood sugar which will spike further hunger.

What about metabolism? The myth is that your metabolic rate will decline if you don’t eat breakfast, which is why everyone tries to claim that it’s the most important meal of the day. But, all the research shows that there isn’t really a reduction in metabolic rate until you’ve reached 60+ hours of fasting. While skipping breakfast may cause an increase in cortisol, it’s an acute increase which your body can easily handle.

2. You brought the wrong shoes. Do you still workout?

Shape Magazine Suggests:

It really depends on the class, says Irv Rubenstein, PhD, exercise physiologist and founder of S.T.E.P.S., a fitness facility in Nashville, TN. “If it’s a high-impact class, you may be better off sitting it out.”

Going barefoot is fine if it’s a toning, stretching, or body weight/calisthenics class. Otherwise, look for an alternative class that doesn’t require shoes such as Pilates, yoga, tai chi, or stretching, he suggests.

The Truth:

The question asked begs its own question: why would you own “the wrong shoes” in the first place?

Shoes are horrible for your feet, period. The best option is always to be barefoot. If that’s not safe or socially acceptable due to the guidelines of our concrete jungle, then a minimalist shoe is the next best option.

With the increased popularity of minimalist shoes, it’s now possible to even get minimalist dress shoes. I could run sprints in my “nice shoes” if I had to because the bottoms are built like all my other minimalist shoes.

If you’re a typical shoe wearer, the answer provided by Dr. Rubenstein is a decent one. But, you really need to get on the wagon and ditch the shoes going forward. In that regard, Dr. Rubenstein missed the boat.

3. Your heart rate is oddly high yet you feel fine. Should you stop or keep going?

Shape Magazine Suggests:

Your decision really depends on how much higher the rate is, and how you are feeling, says Andrew Freeman, MD, cardiologist with National Jewish Health, Boulder, CO. “Heart rate typically increases as theexercise demands increase, so that your heart rate will be faster on an uphill run then one that is level.”

Heart rate also increases if you’re at a high altitude when you haven’t yet acclimated, thanks to less available oxygen. Illness and fever, dehydration, and anemia (low blood count) can also cause a higher-than-normal heart rate. If you’ve been exercising all along and your heart rate is much higher than usual (15 percent or more) at the same level of exercise a few weeks ago, and you’re not feeling as well, see your doctor, Freeman says.

The Truth:

Notice that Dr. Freeman gave a doctorly response — he didn’t really answer the question that was asked.

If anything is “oddly” happening in your body, I’d recommend stopping and researching that further, whether that means using Google or going to see your doctor. That’s really all that needs to be said.

Anyone who has ever worked out before knows what their body should feel like during the workout. If your heart rate is being described as “oddly high”, it’s probably best to stop.

I’m not sure how this question made it to print. Is Shape Magazine running low on material?

4. Your knee starts to twinge, but it’s not actually painful. Should you stop?

Shape Magazine Suggests:

Try reducing the depth of your squats, lunges, or stepups and see if those still bother your knee, Rubenstein says. “If not, then continue. If it still twinges, stop.”

If the twinges occur after performing rotational movements such as those typically done during group exercise classes like step aerobics or kickboxing, try to find an alternative exercise. “Try punching instead, for example,” Rubenstein says.

To strengthen knees, practice leg raises: sit up against a wall, one leg straight out in front, the other bent with your foot flat on the floor. Slowly raise the straight leg to 45 degrees, pause, lower slowly. Repeat for 15 reps and switch sides.

The Truth:

Dr. Rubenstein’s answers here are decent short term suggestions, but offer nothing of substance for identifying and fixing the problem. If your knee “twinges,” it’s a sign that something is wrong with your knee, your form, or an issue upstream or downstream from the pain site.

Identifying issues such as a knee twinge require expert guidance. For instance, you could be experiencing knee pain because your knee is trying to account for a mobility issue in your ankle or hip. It’s possible that the pain is manifesting in your knee, but the knee doesn’t actually need to be fixed; something else does.

If you don’t have the funding to see an expert, head over to MobilityWOD and search around. It’s a great resource and will drill into you the importance of a holistic approach to identifying and solving pain and movement issues.

5. It’s hot and humid and you’ve run out of water halfway through your 60-minute walk. Do you turn around?

Shape Magazine Suggests:

If you were well hydrated prior to your workout, you could go entirely without water for 60 minutes in hot humid weather, Rubenstein says. “So if you ran out of water 30 minutes into your walk, don’t worry about getting more until the end.”

The Truth:

Why does this feel like one of those questions they ask on government school standardized tests? I’m tempted to answer: If you’re halfway through your walk, shouldn’t you turn around regardless?

In all seriousness, this is another question that begs more questions: how much water did you bring? Why did you bring water? Why did you drink all of the water you brought in such a short amount of time?

I can walk almost 4 1/2 miles in 60 minutes. I could do that in Arizona in July without bringing a bottle of water. With regards to this question, Dr. Rubenstein hit the nail on the head.

The reason this question was asked in the first place is because of the media scare storm on hydration. We’ve got doctors and government officials telling us to drink all this water, stay hydrated or die, and so on and so forth. It’s just not that necessary. Drink a glass of water when you wake up and from that point on, drink when you’re thirsty.

If you’re following a Reboot protcol you’re not going to be running marathons or doing two hour boot camps. As with hunger, thirst is well-controlled by the body; just listen to it!

6. We’re skipping this one because it’s a ridiculous question about going to a fitness class if you don’t know the assistant instructor.

Confirmed, Shape Magazine is desperate for material.

7. You’re starving, but you promised a friend you’d meet her at the gym after work. Do you hit the vending machine or go without?

Shape Magazine Suggests:

You don’t want to be so hungry you feel like you can eat your shoes during your workout, Weatherwax says. “If the vending machine is all the time you have, grab the trail mix, or some peanut butter crackers to sustain energy levels.”

Other relatively healthy choices include sunflower kernels, mini pretzels, Fig Newtons, and peanut M&Ms. But be careful, Weatherwax warns, as some snacks may cause GI issues. Experiment with small portions and look for healthier options next time, such as Greek yogurt or fresh fruit.

The Truth:

If you’re a sugar-burner and your body is not accustomed to burning fat for fuel (the natural order of human metabolism) then you’re likely to have a crappy workout and feel just as bad — possibly even pass out if you’re a super-addict.

If you’ve been following a Reboot protocol for any length of time, you’re not a slave to simple sugars and carbohydrates and can easily not eat anything and have a perfectly productive workout.

With that said, Dr. Weatherwax’s advice of grabbing some trail mix or peanut butter crackers is ludicrous. “Other healthy choices include mini pretzels, Fig Newtons, and peanut M&Ms.” Insanity. Those are exactly the opposite of healthy choices — highly processed, chemical-laden, poison-containing non-foods high in refined sugar and carbohydrates. This is why people are fat and sick!

Shape Magazine is 1 for 7 on this round of advice. Another example of why you need to be careful who you listen to.

Good luck out there!

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