Whether you are a fitness newcomer or a seasoned veteran, there is still always a lot more to learn, especially as new studies are continuously disproving what we thought we knew and challenging it to further improve our understanding of the fitness world. Whether it's to do with the actual effectiveness of exercise or the dos and don'ts of eating right to further improve and increase results or 'gains'; fitness myths will always play a big part in it's history and it's future. BUT how much truth is there behind these ‘myths’ and are there facts and scientific research that state the complete opposite? If you want to find out then stick around because you may be surprised about some of the myths we are going to BUST!
First of all is the myth that more gym time is always better, and while this is true to a certain degree constantly adding more and more sessions in the gym day after day can have quite adverse effects. Such as not giving your body time to adjust and recover from training can cause injury and can lead to over training. Hitting the gym too hard too often may stop your body from improving and may even cause you to regress rather than PROGRESS. This can be applied to all ability levels, the casual gym goer who may benefit from every other day off from the gym right up to the most advanced gym enthusiast who should schedule a rest day or a break at least once a week. Still not sure if you should be hitting the gym 7 days a week? The proof is in the pudding, the scientific pudding that is, studies have shown that over training can have very adverse effects such as: decreased performance, depression, fatigue, decreased concentration, loss of bodyweight and general restlessness (1)(2). Progress through hard work is all well and good but being too tired, unmotivated to continue is just bad news as it's just one step forward and two steps back.
The next myth we are going to unpick is that cardio is the best and only way to lose fat effectively! HAHA! While cardio certainly allows you to burn a fair few calories in one sitting the fact is that losing fat just isn't that simple, like with most things there are many parts that come together to make up the whole picture. For example if you're just paying attention to cardio you will lose bodyweight in the form of fat but at the same time also muscle mass. While you might be happy to see the number on the scales going down you might not be so happy with the ‘skinny fat’ look you are left with. Aswell as being disappointed with how you look due to losing fat and muscle you might also be shocked to hear that less lean muscle mass can lead to a lower metabolism (3)(4). People with more lean muscle mass burn more calories even at rest, therefore your ability to burn calories greatly increases as you need more calories to live…wooohooo you get to eat more!
Building muscle is however only one piece of the puzzle to achving fat loss and maintaining lean muscle mass. Strength training, cardio and nutrition all play a role in building a strong lean body. When it comes to nutrition we like to keep it simple. We don’t like fad diets, quick fixes, or making it more complicated than it needs to be. When it comes to fat loss it comes down to Calories in v’s Calories out (5).
By tracking your calories and macronutrients it allows you to eat only the calories which you need in order to make progress, a notable form of this is flexible dieting which of course allows flexibility in food choices. Though not for everyone this is possibly the most effective diet available, with many success stories (6).
This next myth links to calories in V’s calories out: if you need a certain amount of calories per day do you need to eat them all and does it matter about the quality of food that you choose to consume? The short answer to the question is… IT DEPENDS. I know I know not what you wanted to hear, a simple YES or NO is much easier. If you are talking about overall health then yes having ‘good’ quality, nutrient dense food DOES matters, however as far as fat loss goes as long as you get the right amount of calories (or if you are being more specific the right amount of each of the macronutrients (7)) then fat loss is inevitable. i.e if you are consuming less calories (IN) than you are burning (OUT) then fat loss will happen. This sadly however does not give you a free pass to eat low quality (often refered to as yunk) foods all the time, flexible dieting requires flexibility. While you can have some foods that are less nutrient dense and maybe not the highest quality it is recommended that you aim for atleast 80% of your diet to be made up of high quality nutrient dense foods. Consuming a diet made up of largely low quality foods could have a number of adverse affect on your health, this is where flexible dieting or If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) comes in keeping you progressing towards your goal whilst not totally cutting out those lesser quality foods to keep you psychologyly happy and still able to enjoy your diet.
You are in for a surprise with our next myth…. ever been to the gym and sweated more than you ever thought possible? You assume that sweating CRAZY amount should mean that you must have worked harder that ever and burned more calories? RIGHT?...unfortunatley, this is not necessarily the case. The myth that more sweat means more calories burned is just not true as the process of sweating is just your body trying to regulate your temperature when you start to overheat (8). The way our body burns calories for processes like digesting food is called thermogenesis (9) and the way that we burn calories from exercise is pretty similar as it happens internally and is linked to our metabolism. So the next time you workout and you have not worked up the sweat level that you deem to be acceptable to have had a good enough workout then “don't sweat it”!!!. You don’t have to be dripping in sweat to have an effective training session.
Always meaning to go for that run but for some reason you never get around to it? Plus you've heard that running is bad for your knees and can cause arthritis? Long story short IT DOES NOT, at least not like you think. The truth is that your knees are designed to take impact, the cartilage in your knee acting like a sponge for your bones. Science supports the fact that long distance running has no tangible link to the development of joint problems (10). However the greater weight placed on the knees coupled with how you land on them and how hard you impact them (11) is where arthritis can start to occur. This is one of the reasons as to why GOOD FORM is so important.
Even the most believable myths are still just myths and hopefully this blog has given you some insight on which of them are based on some scientific evidence and are true and the ones which are just made up of gobledeygoop. We hope this blog post will help you to choose a clear fitness path to help you to achieve your goals, without having to wory about if what you are doing is correct or just a myth. This is not an extensive list of myths, if you are worried that something you have heard/ folowig might be a myth the send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can point you in the right direction to SCIENTIFIC BASED research!