What you think is a "healthy" habit may be sabotaging your progress.

With so much information out there regarding health and fitness, it is difficult to know what to believe when it comes to food and exercise – what to eat to lose weight, or what exercises will get you the slimmest the fastest. This month, I've compiled some of the biggest health misconceptions, and we're setting the record straight.

No. 1: Peanut Butter Is Healthy

peanuts

Not necessarily, but it can be. When shopping for peanut butter, first READ THE LABEL. Anything with added hydrogenated oils or any other ingredient you can't pronounce should be avoided.

Instead, look for peanut butter that contains natural and few ingredients: peanuts and salt is really all you need for great-tasting peanut butter.

No. 2: Gluten-Free and Low-Carb Foods = Better

Gluten-free foods came on the market so people with celiac disease can enjoy gluten-type products with no celiac side effects. "Gluten-free" quickly became a diet fad that isn't really a diet at all.

In fact, many (but not all) gluten-free and/or low-carb foods are actually worse for you than the gluten-filled, carb-laden versions. When removing the gluten or carbs from these items, manufacturers replace them with extra chemicals and additives in order to make them taste better.

Again, when buying gluten-free, read the labels. And, if you don't have a medical reason to eat them, quite often the regular version of that favorite food is healthier for your body anyway (and tastes better).

No. 3: Carbs Are Bad

whole wheat bread

First, carbohydrates are the only macronutrient that nourishes your brain, which makes them necessary for brain function and mood stabilization.

Now, that isn't the green light to go binge on pasta and garlic bread every day. I'm talking complex carbohydrates – fruits, sweet potatoes, whole grain pasta, oatmeal, and whole wheat bread. These items contain fiber, which keeps you fuller longer than their simple carb counterparts.

Simple carbs, which include refined sugars found in candy and soft drinks, white pasta, doughnuts, cookies, and cakes are those you should keep to a minimum. While they do provide energy, they lack vitamins and nutrients, often provide a "crash" shortly after consumption and don't keep you satisfied very long. Enjoy these items in moderation, but don't feel you need to completely AVOID them. (Because they are SO TASTY!!)

No. 4: Fruit Is Just As Bad for You As a Candy Bar

berries

The carbohydrate discussion leads me right into the fruit/sugar debate.

Yes, fruit contains sugar – natural sugars. The most important thing to know about sugar is that the body cannot tell the difference between a natural sugar and a refined sugar. However, in fruit, sugar binds with fiber to give you more of a "full" feeling than you would get if you ate, say, a bag of jelly beans. So, while you may eat the same amount of "sugar" in a banana, not only will you stave off your hunger longer, but you will be providing your body with additional vitamins necessary for a healthy lifestyle.

No. 5: All Calories Are Created Equal

While trying to lose weight, you may have heard the old adage, "Calories in. Calories out." This is accurate – to a point. The calories in have to be the RIGHT calories.

You can eat 2,000 calories a day in whole grain pasta – a great complex carb – and not see weight loss results. However, when you eat 2,000 calories in a combination of  pasta, lean meats, eggs, fruits, and vegetables, the nutrients work together to get you where you want to be.

No. 6: You Shouldn't Work Out When You're Sick

person taking a break during workout

This is debatable, really. But typically, if the illness is concentrated to your chest or above (head cold, sinus infection, etc.) it is okay to work out. Anything in the stomach and below, it may be a good idea to not jostle yourself too much.

Listen to your body and, if necessary, consult your doctor, but don't make your allergies a regular excuse to skip your gym session. 

No 7: You Can Work Off a Bad Diet

This is so far from the truth, if you are hoping to see weight loss and/or fat loss results. It takes approximately 45 minutes of steady cardio on the elliptical machine to burn the calories in a can of Coca-cola. Wouldn't you rather be putting your body in a caloric deficit and creating results than simply "breaking even"?

Weight loss and maintenance is 20 percent what you work off in the gym and 80 percent what you eat in the kitchen.

No. 8: Diet "X" Is the Best

There is no "best" diet. In fact, all fad diets should be avoided. The best way to lose weight and keep it off is through a lifestyle change – long-term healthy eating and routine exercise. Fad diets may help you lose weight, but many are just not sustainable and will not work long-term.

Before jumping on any diet bandwagon, do your research. If the results seem too good to be true, they probably are.

What are some of your biggest nutrition, diet, fitness or work out pet peeves or questions? Leave them in the comments below!