Time and again, we've been introduced to several fitness myths that most of us would have already passed as facts. I wrote about this topic on my blog: 20 Fitness Myths That Need to Die.
Not only are these myths misleading, but they also deprive us of the proper fitness we are all aiming for.
On this blog post, we'll be debunking these myths so you can achieve your fitness goals without thinking twice. Below are some of the most popular ones that you should stop believing from this point forward.
1. You need to cut your carbs to lose fat
The simple truth is insulin doesn't make you fat. Overeating does so consider this myth debunked.
We've been led to believe that insulin helps store nutrients in the body through the food we eat. The higher the insulin level, the higher the level of storage.
Since consuming simple sugars can lead to an insulin spike, we all tend to believe that eating lots of carbs will raise our insulin levels and put it on fat-storing mode.
Carbohydrates are an essential energy source for the mind and body. Taking it away may cause more harm than good.
2. You can't get in good shape without supplements
While supplements help get you into good shape, they aren't necessarily your ticket to a perfect body. Getting in shape is achievable through a balanced diet and exercise alone.
Like anything else in the world, there's no such thing as an overnight or shortcut to success. Getting your ideal body requires discipline and hard work. In short, magic pills don't exist.
3. Protein intake needs to be sky high
There's an unwritten rule in life that says "too much of anything is bad for you," and protein intake is no exception.
Most of us seem to believe that we need high amounts of protein to stay fit, but the truth is, high protein intake does not promote body fat loss. Most of the time, they're not even healthy. They can make you overweight, develop type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, to name a few.
4. The more you eat, the more muscles you will build
While this sounds more of an excuse from someone who keeps himself from eating, some believe it.
This sounds too good to be true, not to mention a bit ridiculous considering the premise. If this were true, we should be seeing more people with toned muscles than overweight ones.
5. You can spot reduce fat
This is one of those myths that we know in the back of our minds to be quite impossible yet believe in its possibility. It's disappointing, but it's just not possible to single out one spot in the body to lose fat from.
The way this works is that you lose fat across the whole body. It is not in the waist because you do sit-ups, not in the arms. After all, you lift weights, not in the legs, because you run every day. Fat loss affects the whole body no matter how hard you concentrate on one area. That's just the way it works.
6. The more significant muscle is always the stronger one
Let's put it this way. When you go to the gym or train, you are after a specific goal. It's either you do it to get big, or you do it to be healthy. While the methods may have similarities, training to be big will not necessarily produce the same results when you're training to get fit.
The difference lies in the number of reps and the weight of the load you carry. A heavy load done in fewer repetitions will make you stronger but won't necessarily make you bigger. A moderate value done in moderate reps, in the meantime, will increase muscle mass but won't necessarily make you stronger.
7. The more you sweat, the more fat you burn
Contrary to popular belief, sweating doesn't necessarily equate to more fat being burnt. It's just our body's way of regulating our internal temperature by excreting them out in the form of sweat.
This is why you need to stay hydrated during exercise because water loss needs to be replaced.
8. You can get abs by just doing abs exercises
This would be good news to me if it were true, but just like what we said in myth number 5, you can't lose fat in certain portions of the body. You can do all the crunches and all the ab exercise you can think of, but if your body's fat percentage is still high, those six-packs will never reveal themselves no matter what.
9. You need to do hours of cardio to lose weight
Some people think that doing hours upon hours of cardio will help them lose weight, which is fair considering the health benefits they stand to gain. It is possible to lose weight even without cardio.
Yes, you hear that right. Losing weight is all about calories. If you burn more calories than you consume, you should be on your way to losing weight.
10. Squatting is bad for the knees
There are no scientific studies that prove that there is truth in this myth to get it out of the way. If you think about it, it sounds ridiculous, considering that we do squats every day when we get out of a chair and sit on it.
What's bad for the knees isn't squatting perse but how it is being done. Either you have bad form, low mobility, or an underlying pain that makes it difficult to squat.
11. Intermittent fasting is harmful to you
While fasting may not be for everyone, to say that it's terrible is a bit of an exaggeration. Studies have shown that you gain a few benefits from doing it like increased metabolism, muscle gain and retention, and fat burning.
Intermittent fasting is not synonymous with starvation, and the truth is told, and not everyone suits it.
12. You'll lose all your gains if you miss a training session
Most people seem to believe that if they miss a day at the gym after religiously following a strict schedule, they will lose everything they worked hard for.
That's probably your conscience, making you feel guilty, but the reality is you can maintain your strength even with a reduced training frequency.
Studies conducted by Graves et al. showed that toning down your training frequency from 2 to 3 times a week to 2, 1, or 0 times per week resulted in a 70% strength loss in those who trained 0 times but no loss for those who teach once or twice a week.
There's no need to panic if you missed a day or two. There's no such thing as a perfect schedule anyway, especially when you're working.
13. You have to eat breakfast
How many times have we heard the statement that "breakfast is the most important meal of the day" and that we shouldn't miss it for the world?
There's no scientific proof that skipping breakfast can result in a lack of energy or reduced function. Some people get hungry without eating breakfast, but to say that it is detrimental to health is taking it a notch higher.
14. You need to change workouts often to confuse your muscles
Okay, first things first, your muscles cannot get "confused" because they cannot think. Let's get that out of the way.
Kidding aside, while it is true that exercise can become less effective after some time, it doesn't necessarily mean that you have to change the entire workout itself. An increase in the stimulus is just what you need.
There will come a time when two sets of 10 reps of 50 kgs will become less effective. When that happens, changing weight should give your muscles a different challenge.
15. You should stretch before you lift weights
This is another myth that people have been led to believe. It's a widespread belief that stretching is supposed to be a requirement before you lift weights as a warm-up form, but studies have shown otherwise.
Studies have shown that stretching may reduce strength, which is more of a negative than a positive effect.
16. Losing weight and losing fat is the same thing
If taken at face value, weight loss and fat loss seem to mean the same, but they are two completely different things if you look closely.
Fat loss is about losing fat direct and straightforward, but weight loss can result from losing fat and muscle, water, or even hair.
You can lose fat without losing muscle and still look great. You can also lose both and look sick. The point is there is a better way of losing fat without losing power. It's how you set your diet up and conduct your work out that makes the difference.
17. You can out-train a bad diet
How many times have we seen people eat uncontrollably and vow to recover by doubling their training hours? As much as people would like to believe that this is effective, unfortunately, it isn't.
The simple rule is more calories equals more weight gained. It doesn't take an additional number of reps or training hours to make up for the lack of discipline.
18. You don't need to train the abs directly
Summer can sure put a pressure on men who'd want nothing less but to take those shirts off and have those washboard abs on display. The pressure can get so high that some would do crunches every day to get the results they want in time for the next beach party.
Muscles need to be trained, stimulated, and overloaded for them to grow. You can't achieve success overnight, especially when it comes to building those abs. Just train smart and practice good nutrition, and you wouldn't have to stress yourself out as if you're beating a deadline.
19. You have to work out every day to see progress
From the get-go, you know that there's no way this could be true because there's more to life than working out, but scientific studies also prove that this isn't something to be taken as fact.
One such study was done with seven women and 12 men with an average age of 30. The study focused on the difference between a high-frequency training group (those who trained a week thrice and three sets per muscle) and a low-frequency training group (those trained once a week and nine locations per strength).
The study looked at the effect of training frequency on strength improvement and lean mass. After eight weeks of training, the study showed a staggering result – there were no meaningful differences between the groups that were considered significant.
20. You can't gain muscle just using bodyweight exercises
This is an unfounded claim that's merely incredible if you think about it. While building muscles with weights and equipment provides a different experience, achieving the same results using bodyweight exercises isn't impossible.
Whether you lift barbells or perform bodyweight exercises, the same principles apply to build muscles. You can still build muscles, however, if you train progressively and eat right.