Half a century ago, not enough information was available regarding health, fitness and nutrition. In 2016, we suffer from information overload. Newspapers bombard us with what food has been revealed to cut the risk of cancer, gossip magazines carry stories on the latest diet taking Hollywood by storm, and Youtube bloggers debate what exercise regime is best to give you better glutes or pecs.
Much of this information is completely inaccurate, either originating from an unreliable source, or still being branded about decades after we didn’t know any better. Unfortunately, these myths often leave people completely confused.
In this blog, I will highlight ten of the biggest myths going, and explain why they need to be quashed forever.
Myth #1 Low-fat and fat-free products are healthier for you
Many food manufacturers will reduce the amount of fat in their products so they can promote it as ‘low-fat’ or ‘fat-free’. However, this alone would be detrimental to the taste of the product, so what do the food manufacturers do? Laden the product with sugar or artificial flavours, which will do you far more harm than the fat in the original product.
Myth #2 All calories are the same
There are 139 calories in a 330ml can of Coca-Cola. This is roughly the same number of calories as a John West tin of tuna steak. One of these products is packed full of protein, vitamins, minerals and essential omega-3 fatty acids. The other is, well to be polite, devoid of anything useful. How can these be treated the same?!
Calories can be divided into two categories; nutritional calories and empty calories. Nutritional calories are responsible for providing the proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals that allow our bodies to function properly. Empty calories do not provide any benefits to use whatsoever.
Myth #3 Eating fat makes you fat
First and foremost, not all fat is bad. In fact, the good fat is essential to human life and it is imperative that we include it within our diet. These good fats, found in eggs, nuts, oily fish, coconut etc., will only do you good when eaten in moderation. They will certainly not ‘make you fat’, and in fact sugar and carbohydrates will do us way more damage when it comes to our fat loss goals.
Myth #4 You can reduce fat in certain areas
Unfortunately you cannot train to reduce fat in certain areas of your body. Genetics, hormones (dependant upon gender), and age will dictate where fat is lost throughout the body. Performing exercises such as crunches will simply work the muscles under the fat, rather than help reduce the fat itself.
However, a fitter and healthier lifestyle will at the very least minimise all of those problem areas, and at best eradicate them once and for all!
Myth #5 Protein shakes are essential for building and repairing muscle
Protein itself is essential for building and repairing muscle. Fortunately, protein can be gained from a wide range of food sources, including meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and beans.
For most people, these sources will provide more than enough protein for their goals and needs. However, for some people protein shakes are a convenient way to supplement their diet if their protein needs are greater than most (i.e. bodybuilders) or struggle for whatever reason with the food sources mentioned above.
Myth #6 Exercise is most important for losing fat
Ever heard the phrase ‘you can’t out-train a bad diet’? It’s true! When you consider it would take around 40 minutes of swimming to burn off a Mars bar, you can see how easily all your hard work can be wasted with a few wrong mouthfuls.
Myth #7 You need to use barbells and dumbbells to build muscle
Muscle is built through applying progressive resistance to your body over time, breaking down the muscle and causing it to repair over and over again. Muscle does not detect the difference between a barbell or a kettlebell, and can be built using bodyweight exercises, kettlebells, resistance machines etc.
Yes, there is no doubt that free weights such as barbells and dumbbells are the most effective in building lean muscle mass, but there are plenty of other options. In fact, for those who have more functional goals in mind, using bodyweight and kettlebells are probably a better option.
Myth #8 Hours spent on cardio machines are the best way to burn fat
Countless studies have proved that intensity is more important than duration when it comes to fat loss. Exercise involving high intensity will increase your metabolic rate like no other and maximise fat burning. Unless you are training for a long distance race, hours spent on the treadmill will be completely wasted.
Myth #9 You must have a gym membership to lose fat and get fit
To be honest, with the right knowledge you can get fit and lose fat without any equipment at all! There is also nothing better and more exhilarating than exercising in the great outdoors. Equipment such as kettlebells, battle ropes, medicine balls etc. also make it possible to train away from a gym.
Modern gyms are often half full with expensive equipment often designed to impress members rather than offer practical benefits. Know what equipment is of use to you or lose that membership.
Myth #10 Women will bulk up if they do strength training
Women have too much oestrogen and too little testosterone to build huge amounts of muscle. Female bodybuilders have to train excessively and eat huge amounts of food to get to the size they are, amongst other things. Ladies should embrace strength training and all its benefits, rather than be afraid of loading on too much muscle.
Adam Dicker is a REP’s certified Personal Trainer, available in Hastings and surrounding areas.