9 Health and Fitness Myths Debunked
Updated: Oct 8
If only I had a quarter every time I heard someone say something completely wrong and with no proof to back it up, I'd be Scrooge McDuck.
Jokes aside, there are a lot of health and fitness myths out there that you're still following and need to stop believing.
What are those myths? Read ahead.
Myth 1: The more you sweat, the more calories you burn
Nonsense. Excessive sweating during exercise, without drinking water, leads to dehydration.
Sometimes people swear they lost weight as soon as they hop on a scale after an hour on the treadmill.
Going by word of mouth, people wrap themselves in plastic or wear heavy clothes looking like a lost Inuit in the African Sahara.
The truth is, that so-called weight loss is temporary. It's water weight.
Bodybuilders use this trick to look leaner and more muscular while fighters dehydrate themselves before weigh-ins to qualify for their fights
If you're looking to lose weight, watch your diet and keep yourself at a caloric deficit — preferably no more than 500Kcal.
Myth 2: Cardio is the best form of weight loss
While there is evidence to back this up, with data suggesting more than 250 minutes per week of moderate intensity cardio is effective dose for weight loss, it's not sustainable in the long run if not combined with resistance training.
Usually, people looking to lose weight are those with minimal to no prior gym experience or those who have been sedentary for a long time. In other words, they're individuals with meh muscle mass.
It's recommended to start with aerobic, mobility, and stretching exercises. However, at some point, you will need to embrace resistance training. Building lean body mass increases your daily caloric expenditure by increasing your basal metabolic rate.
Myth 3: You can target weight loss
I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there is no solid evidence that targeted fat loss — also known as spot reduction — is a thing. We know that glucose is the body's favorite source of fuel. We know that fat is made of triglycerides, a.k.a not glucose.
When lifting weights, muscles use glycogen (glucose complex) stored within them. Once those stores are depleted (during a long and intense lifting session), the body turns to protein and fat reserves.
Let's forget about protein and focus on fats. Fat cells are broken down into triglycerides and free fatty acids. They are, then, released into the bloodstream. Consequently, the fat used as fuel is chosen randomly by the body.
Besides, when people try to lose fat in a certain area, they use exercises with low-energy demands (e.g. crunches). Overall fitness — muscle strength and endurance + cardiovascular capacity — is a better predictor of how well your body is burning fat.
With that being said, training your abs every single day won't give you a six-pack. it will, however, give you lower back pain.
Myth 4: No pain no gain
You're probably confused right now. Just hear me out: The pain you feel the next day after a workout is called delayed-onset muscle soreness — DOMS for short. It's caused by a sudden high increase in activity, higher than what your body is used to.
As part of its adaptation process, the body gets used to the new workload, which translates into decreased discomfort. Contrary to popular belief, lack of discomfort is not an indication of ineffective training.
On the other hand, if the soreness/discomfort persists, you might want to consult a physician as you may have developed an injury.
Myth 5: You should stretch before you workout
This is a controversial claim because we haven't specified which type of stretching works best with which part of your workout.
For an effective and risk-free training session, you should begin with a warmup. Warming up pumps the blood and loosens up the muscles, getting them ready for the core of the workout.
Dynamic stretching fulfills that goal. It's a series of slow and controlled compound movements like the inchworm and hurdles.
Static stretching has been reported to decrease performance when performed during the warm-up. So, leave it for the cool down, which is at the end of your session.
Myth 6: Exercise makes you lose weight
Absolutely not. Have you never heard the saying Abs are made in the kitchen? Precisely! Diet is the main factor in anyone's weight loss journey.
Stored body fat is basically an untapped fuel source, much like the cookie boxes at the back of my cupboard. One pound of fat is roughly 3,500 Kcal.
Believe it or not, you would roughly burn — on average — between 200-600 Kcal depending on the intensity and duration of your workout. If you want to lose weight, you have to consume less than what your body needs for maintenance.
So, if your maintenance calories are 2200Kcl, your energy expenditure during your workout is 500Kcal, and you consume 2800Kcal => you're not losing weight.
Myth 7: Working out every day contributes to fat loss
This goes in conjunction with the one above. The body needs rest and sleep to recuperate and repair muscle tissue that was broken down during exercise.
When the body is in a state of fatigue, it increases the secretion of the hunger hormone, Ghrelin (among other contributing hormones). That pushes you to overeat.
Rest days are as important as your actual workouts.
Myth 8: Carbs are the enemy
Be careful because you may be confusing carbs with refined sugar. Carbohydrates are an entire food group. Refined sugar is only a part of it.
Carbs are the body's favorite and immediate source of fuel. The brain functions on glucose, the simplest form of carbs. Your muscles store carbs in the form of glycogen so they can perform.
They're an essential part of a balanced diet.
The key to mastering carbs lies within what you consume. Legumes, whole wheat foods, and fruits are good examples of the carbohydrates you should be consuming. They not only provide you with fuel but also with essential micronutrients, such as vitamins and minerals.
Myth 9: Women who lift heavy weights bulk up
I can see it as an effective strategy for men. For women? Not so much. One of the key factors for developing muscle mass is testosterone. Women do not produce this hormone in enough quantity to bulk up.
Besides, muscle gains demand a caloric surplus. The fact of the matter is, the heavier you lift, the more effort you make, and so, the more calories you burn. Lifting heavier results in increased strength and lean body mass. The leaner your body, the more calories you burn to maintain it.
What are the other health and fitness myths you know of? Make sure to comment them down below, and share for more entertaining and informative content.