More than half of millennials are practicing unhealthy habits like taking unregulated supplements and working out more than four days per week. This is extreme and can lead to unintended health consequences, doctors say.
Dr. Jamin Brahmbhatt, MD, urologist at Orlando Health, co-director of the PUR Clinic at South Lake Hospital in Clermont, Florida is one of two doctors on a mission aimed at helping men avoid risky nutrition and fitness fads. They are going on a tour across the country raising awareness about common mistakes men are making. “When we give them the facts they often have that ‘aha’ moment,” Dr. Brahmbhatt adds.
Over 50 percent of millennial men use supplements, but the reality is these guys probably don’t need supplements, Dr. Brahmbhatt says. About150 million Americans take supplements every year. As a result the industry has boomed. There are over 85,000 in the market today compared to only 4,000 in 1994, he adds. “Most of the vitamins and nutrients in supplements can be found in the foods we eat on a daily basis.”
Supplements are NOT regulated like pharmaceuticals, Dr. Brahmbhatt says. “The FDA does not regulate supplements. So there is no way of guaranteeing what's on the label is actually what's in the supplement.” They often claim outcomes without any great scientific backing, he adds. And they can have side effects when taken in conjunction with other medications.
Taking them is a common unhealthy behavior Dr. Brahmbhatt says he has seen while on the road. “These supplements tend to have tons of caffeine-derivatives and rev up your metabolism.” The problem is that your heart may not always be able to handle the strain, he adds. “By eating less you may lose some pounds but you may also lose out of essential vitamins and nutrients.” Your body needs them to function properly and to keep you healthy.
Fad diets in most cases are not sustainable, Dr. Brahmbhatt says. Most people get on fad diets because they may hear someone else did it and lost weight or get sucked into some great marketing campaign on social media, he adds. “If it is too good to be true — it probably is too good to be true. Most of us often look for quick fixes when the best most sustainable way to stay healthy is consistency.”
Most fad dieters likely don’t do much research before starting the programs, Dr. Brahmbhatt says. “Personally, even I as a doctor, have gotten sucked into fad dieting. I know there were risks involved but I also wanted that quick fix right before an event or family function. Since I’ve been through it I find it is easier to relay this information to others.”
This is another common mistake many people make. 1 pound = 3500 calories. “So to lose 1 pound you either burn off 3,500 calories OR restrict that many calories over a few days or week,” Dr. Brahmbhatt says. “Again, these extreme measures may get you some results initially but in the long term could be detrimental to your health.”
You can’t just start doing high intensity training 7 days a week to lose that rapid weight, Dr. Brahmbhatt says. “Your body has to get used to the movements so stretching is essential as is making sure your body has enough fuel (i.e. food) to help replenish your vital organs and muscles.” Plus, proper form is important to avoid injuries. When you work out you have to work smarter, not harder, he adds. “Often times you can work out in half the time at a slower pace and get twice the rewards.”
There is nothing wrong with exercising every day, Dr. Brahmbhatt says. The recommendation is at least 150 min/week. So if that means 30 minutes a day. The problem occurs when the exercise is to the extreme without much prep or instruction, he adds. “I’ve injured my back 3 times in the past when going all out at the gym when my body was not ready. In the past 2 years I’ve had no back problems. That's because I took the time to slowly ramp up my exercises, stretch, and improve my form. There is nothing wrong with lifting a low weight dumbbell — it’s the form that's most important!”
“We get caught in the hype which promises unrealistic outcomes,” Dr. Brahmbhatt says. “We want fast outcomes with little effort. Obviously this is not sustainable. There is also little education on the potential risks.”
“We live in a filtered, Photoshop-driven society where people are pressured to look good, have perfect skin, great abs at all times for that ‘social gratification,” Dr. Brahmbhatt says. Avoid getting sucked into these social norms. “I also use this as a way to discuss mental health and eating disorders. A lot of guys out there have eating disorders or are dealing with depression,” he adds.
More than 2 in 3 adults were considered to be overweight or have obesity. “The number will probably continue to grow until we make some major changes in the way we eat and move,” Dr. Brahmbhatt says. It’s much easier to pick up fast food and take some supplements than it is cook a healthy meal at home (or order one when eating out).
The obesity epidemic is likely a huge contributor to why men’s lifespans are five years shorter than those of their female counterparts, “Dr. Brahmbhatt says. Staying consistent with your diet and workouts (avoiding the swings of fad measures) will get your on track to 5 more years of healthy living, he adds. “It sounds so simple — because it is simple!”
Unrealistic goals can include wanting to lose large amounts of weight over a short period of time (i.e.: 20 pounds in 1 month). Just take it one day at a time. Short term goals are much easier to reach.
The first few pounds you lose when starting a new extreme diet regimen usually is the loss of water weight and muscle mass, Dr. Brahmbhatt says. “You may think you look thinner — but the reality is you’re not — you’ve just probably dehydrated your body and lost some muscle mass.”
This will help keep your skin hydrated and help you glow. Staying hydrated also helps your energy and mood. Plus, it may help avoid the need for tons of caffeine to keep you going.
Getting your required 7 hours of sleep will let your body rejuvenate itself every night, Dr. Brahmbhatt says. “You will be less tired and more ready to move around the next day. Plus, it avoids the bags under your eyes on wedding day.”
Stop drinking alcohol, he adds. “These are wasted calories and carbs you don’t need to be ‘drinking’ anyway.”
Get a calorie counter and cut out 500 calories day — in 4 weeks that's equal to 4 lost pounds, Dr. Brahmbhatt says. “Try to burn an extra 500 calories day — in 4 weeks that an extra 4 lost pounds! Adding that to your calorie restriction that's a potential 8 pound weight loss in 1 month.”
Start your day by spending 10 minutes stretching. A lot of back pain, stiff muscles, and even headaches can be avoided by ensuring your body is flexible,” Dr. Brahmbhatt says. Walk up at an incline or speed yourself up to a light jog. “The goal should be get your heart rate up.” Take the stairs, get up at work and stand for five minutes, and do some sit-ups, pushups and jumping jacks during TV commercials.