When it comes to our health and fitness, it can become quite confusing with the amount of mixed messages there are out there. Thanks to some of the latest research, we discovered that some of the things we thought were ‘bad for us’ really aren’t that bad at all!

Taking a few days off exercise

While sticking to an exercise schedule with unwavering dedication is admirable (we’re giving you a slow clap over here) taking a break or skipping a few days won’t derail you. In fact, studies have found that taking more than 24 hours away from the grind not only assists recovery but also promotes the growth of muscle. On top of this, a study from Stirling University in 2013 concluded that less higher intensity sessions were more beneficial than many moderate intensity sessions. So, take a day (or two!) off and go harder the next time you hit the barbell, pavement or mat.

Snacking

Snacking often gets a bad rap because the foods we tend to munch on between meals are lacking in nutrition (sorry, potato chips). But if we snack wisely, it’s a good thing. Studies have found that eating little and often can improve our satiety, with research from the Journal of Nutrition suggesting that somewhere between three and six meals  a day may be preferred for energy regulation and weight control. The only time snacking might be naughty? If the snacks we’re eating are going to take us over our daily kJ allowance.

Caffeine

Many things have side effects when consumed in excess. In moderate amounts, caffeine can be beneficial. It’s been linked to improved concentration, it can prevent diabetes, protect your liver and heal your ticker. Plus, studies have shown that caffeine before exercise (think one cup of coffee not four) can increase the intensity of exercise and endurance of the athlete. Sounds good to us!

Forgetting to stretch

Time to say adios to the foam roller? Not quite. While stretching after exercise is necessary, studies have found that the old pre-workout stretch sesh could actually impede our performance. A study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports found that static stretching before exercise can inhibit strength, power and explosive muscular performance. Try a more dynamic warm-up that is exercise-specific instead of those static stretches; it will make for a more effective sesh.

Dairy

While ‘dairy-free’ is a selling point for many health food products, dairy isn’t the bad guy (for those of us who aren’t lactose intolerant, that is). Dairy products are packed full of important nutrients including protein, calcium, riboflavin and vitamin B12. Our resident dietitian, Caitlin Reid weighed in to give us some peace of mind. “Research shows that the consumption of dairy products may reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Like any food group, dairy products only need to be excluded from the diet if there is an allergy, intolerance or of course a clear dislike.”

If this is the case, then a calcium-fortfied dairy alternative should be used in place of dairy products. “Before excluding a food group like dairy though, it’s always best to see an accredited practising dietitian who can ensure you’re meeting your dietary requirements through other food sources,” Reid explains.