As if maintaining a healthy lifestyle and fitness journey isn’t hard enough, some of us also have to deal with unsolicited advice from people who haven’t fact-checked their fitness tips. Added to that is the number of well-meaning but often untrue articles available on the internet.
Here are 20 common health and fitness myths, we recommend that you stop believing:
Longer workouts equal better results
All BODYTEC members may already be aware of this one but just in case, we’re happy to confirm that training longer doesn’t always equate to gaining better results. It’s the quality of your training that makes a real impact, not the duration.
Carbs cause weight gain
Er, no. Overeating any type of food, especially refined carbohydrates such as pasta, white flour, most breakfast cereals, sweets, desserts, and pizzas, will cause weight gain. These carbs have been stripped of nutrients and fibre and are simply filling you up rather than fuelling your body. On the other hand, complex carbs such as whole wheat and multigrain bread, brown rice, and non-starchy vegetables are digested slowly and highly recommended to enhance energy levels and promote weight loss.
You should eat lots of fruit to be healthy
A dietician reading this may be cringing because certain fruits like apples, bananas and mangoes contain a lot of sugar (fructose) and should be consumed in moderation. There is also no such thing as healthy sugars. Whether you consume it in fruit or refined carbohydrates, sugar is sugar. If you’re no longer eating white sugar but eating lots of dried fruit, the reality is that you’re still consuming high amounts of sugar, which is ultimately not good for you.
You need to tone your muscles
There are varied understandings of what it means to tone up. When you tone your muscles, you can increase definition and muscle mass to be stronger through physical exercise but the process of toning doesn’t alter the shape of your body’s muscles, it only becomes more visible. The way to increase muscle tone is by burning fat and doing strength exercises to increase muscle mass.
When you do strength training then stop, your muscles turn to fat
Impossible. Muscle cannot be converted to fat and fat cannot be converted to muscle. They are different types of tissue. Since muscle tissue is dense, it takes up less space in your body and once you stop training your muscles, you will lose muscle mass and definition, thereby making more space for fat but that doesn’t mean that you have gained more fat. However, people who stop training are prone to eat more and burn fewer calories, which then leads to weight gain.
You must do cardio to lose weight
Also, not necessarily true. Cardio is great for heart health and building stamina but it’s not essential for weight loss since we lose weight by burning more calories than we consume. However, regular cardio workouts will help you maintain weight loss if you’d like to eat more.
You should eliminate fat from your diet to lose weight
This is a really important myth to ignore. Good fats such as those found in avocados, fish oils, nuts and seeds are essential for muscle growth, maintaining hormone levels, and helping you feel more satiated after meals.
People who weigh less are fitter
It may be true that weighing less improves speed but definitely not that it qualifies a person as fit. You may weigh more simply because you started and maintained strength training, thereby increasing your muscle mass.
It’s best to train on an empty stomach
This is actually counterproductive unless your goal is to lose muscle as well since losing weight quickly will cause you to lose both muscle and fat. Try to eat a substantial meal containing proteing at least two hours before a full-body workout to ensure that you have the energy to train at your full potential and prevent muscle wasting.
Sweating makes you burn fat
This is a myth so old and familiar that we want to believe that it’s true – but it’s not. Sweating is your body’s way of cooling you down when you’re heating up. It’s a sign that you’re expending energy but since sweat isn’t fat, the weight you’ll lose from sitting in a hot room without exercise, for example, is simply water weight, which you’ll regain as soon as you rehydrate.
You need to sweat to lose weight
Some of us are conditioned to associate hard work and the impact of a workout with sweat. But again, when you sweat it simply means that you are heating up more than usual and your body’s job is to use its water reserve to help you cool down.
You’ll lose weight by going gluten-free
Sorry, this one may hurt some feelings. Simply choosing gluten-free options will not change your weight in any way unless you eliminate refined carbs from your diet and ensure that you don’t eat more calories than your body needs. You will still be consuming calories, and if you’re eating refined carbs – that’s lots of energy, which will be stored as fat if not burned.
You can eat whatever you want if you exercise more
Nope, not true. You can maintain your weight by training more if you eat more but you can’t outwork a consistently bad diet. The more calories you consume, the more energy your body stores and eating fewer nutritious meals, keeps you full but weakens your immune system.
Salt is bad for you
Your salt intake can impact your physical performance. The key here, and with everything else in life, is moderation. Your body needs salt to balance fluid and maintain healthy blood pressure. The daily recommended limit is one teaspoon of salt per day according to the UK National Health Service.
You should stick to an exercise routine
While planning and repeating workouts will help you gain results, your body will eventually adapt to routine exercises to help you save energy. You may notice that you burn more calories on your first day of completing a workout as opposed to the 30th day of doing exactly the same exercises. This is why switching up workouts and increasing intensity is important, especially if you’re looking to achieve significant changes in your body or physical performance.
Heavyweight equals fat
Not at all. This is why it’s better to use BMI and physical body measurements as a health measurement rather than simply jumping on a scale. Your body weight consists of organs, water, bones, muscle, fat, and the food you consume if you’re not weighing yourself on an empty stomach.
It’s okay to have a cheat day
Don’t get us wrong, we recommend that you treat yourself to snacks and indulge in your occasional sweet and savoury favourites but not that you dedicate a day to overriding your progress. If you’re eating well 80% of the time, it’s better to moderately indulge at any time rather than overindulging on a specific day since you physically can’t trick your body into discarding the calories you consume.
Morning sessions gain the best results
Starting the day with training is great to increase happy hormones and improve your overall mood but there’s really no best time to train as long as you make time for it.
Do a lot of ab workouts to reduce belly fat
Unfortunately, spot reduction is a myth. To gain the best results in the desired areas, a combination of exercises and more calories burned is required, which is usually achieved with full-body workouts.
It’s important to stretch before your workout
Easing into your workout is always recommended but stretching is also a form of physical activity that can actually negatively impact your body if you’re doing extensive stretching that your body is not used to, so go easy on the stretching.
Do you have any myths to add to the list? There are certainly more out there. Let us know which myth surprised you the most by sharing this post and tagging us in the comments on social media.