Common Myths and Fallacies

“Truth is the most valuable thing we have.” Mark Twain

1. Food eaten after 8pm will turn to fat. 

  • No, not necessarily. If you have eaten more calories than what you burned that day it will turn into fat.  If you burned more calories than you ate it will not turn into fat.

2. If I lift heavy weights I will become a bulky muscle-head (from a woman’s standpoint).

  • No. Females do not have enough of the male androgen testosterone, which is the key hormone responsible for increased muscle mass.  Massive hypertrophy in females is physiologically impossible without injecting anabolic hormones into the body. Weight training for women is especially beneficial to their health and fitness. I will have a more detailed post on this later.

3.  Muscle turns to fat, fat turns to muscle.

  • No, this is biologically impossible. Muscle and fat are two completely different types of tissue.  Fat cells shrink gradually through diet and exercise. Muscle mass increases after 6 – 10 weeks of high volume resistance training.

4. You don’t need to do strengthening exercises for your legs if you jog.

  • No, resistance training for your legs helps improve not only strength, but also power, balance, coordination, and injury prevention.

5. Doing 1 hour of cardio every day is the best way to burn fat.

  •   No, several problems with this one:
  • 1. Not everyone can exercise for 1 hour straight, you have to progress slowly at your own pace.
  • 2. It goes back to energy intake and energy expenditure. If you eat 100-200 calories less per day and burn a few 100 calories more per day you will lose fat gradually over several weeks.
  • 3. To ensure exercise adherence and maintain your motivation, it is a good idea to vary your exercise intensity and duration daily.  For every hard day make sure you have an easy day.

6. You need to eat lots of protein to build muscle.

  • It is true you need protein to repair muscle tissue after you have exercised, but you also need protein for ALL cellular maintainence, not just muscle.
  • There are many factors that affect your ability to build muscle: your sex, your genetic makeup, the type of exercise program, hormone levels, amount of rest/recovery, and a well-rounded nutrition plan from all major food groups.
  • Eating a high protein diet usually results in avoiding carbohydrates and this is not good for optimal health.  A low carb diet is very taxing on your body and causes a condition called “ketosis”.  Ketosis is the incomplete metabolism of fat and protein because you don’t have enough of your body’s preferred fuel, carbohydrates.  Ketosis results from an accumulation of ketone bodies in the blood and without carbohydrates this leads to toxic levels.  Ketosis causes severe dehydration which then puts severe strain on your kidneys leading to kidney stones, constipation, gout, and eventually organ failure and death.  You must eat a minimum of 100 grams of carbs a day to avoid ketosis.
  • Americans eat too much animal protein…and we are a fat society.  Eating lots of animal products also increases the amount saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet as well, which is linked to obesity, dyslipidemia, hypertension, and heart disease.

7. In order to see results, you must push yourself to your limit during every workout.

  • NO, an acute bout of exercise (weights or cardio) breaks your body down. Actually you have microscopically injured your tissues, and brought-on intense stress to your muscular, cardiovascular, and neurological systems.  Only during rest is when the adaptations to your training occur.  If you “killed” yourself every workout you are guaranteed injury to say the least.  Appropriately spaced rest days and even rest weeks in your training program is the best way to achieve optimal fitness and performance. Also developing an intelligent periodization program avoids overtraining and injury as well.

8. Cycling or the stair-master will make my butt look bigger.

  • No, actually it will make it look smaller and definitely firmer.

9. Carbohydrates will make you fat.

  • Again, too much of anything will make you fat. Carbs are the essential fuel source for your body.  Carbs are actually the ONLY fuel your brain uses!  Two other nice things carbs do is transport water and you need them to BURN FAT!  To avoid ketosis (mentioned earlier) you must eat a minimum of 100 grams of carbs/day, if you are exercising a lot then this number should be higher.

10. Excessive sweating during exercise means you’re not in shape.

  • Actually, sweating is a healthy physiological response to exercise.  If you’re not sweating you are experiencing heat stroke, which is a life-threatening condition.
  • The fitter you are the more easily you sweat, because you are more efficient at cooling your core temperature, because you have more blood volume than a sedentary person.

11. If you exercise you can eat anything you want.

  • Optimal recovery from exercise requires whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats all from fresh whole food sources.

12. If you do a lot of isolated muscle exercises (“toning”) you can reduce fat in those areas. Meaning sit-ups, triceps, butt blasters…

  • No, performing “toning” exercises with a tremendous number of repetitions DOES NOT REMOVE FAT FROM A TARGET AREA.
  • If you are reducing caloric intake by a few hundred per day and increasing caloric expenditure through cardiovascular exercise you will lose fat EVERYWHERE…and this happens gradually over time with consistent, diligent lifestyle behavior.
  • The last place that fat was deposited is the first place it will be removed when you lose weight.

13. I don’t need a trainer, I already know how to workout. 

  • A trainer can help design an intelligent, sensible, and individualized exercise program.  This will allow you to reach your goals faster!
This entry was posted in Exercise Physiology. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Common Myths and Fallacies

  1. Anne Throdahl says:

    This is a great page, Molly. You should do an article on overcoming injuries– maybe one on damaged Achilles tendons?

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