5 common myths in health and fitness

July 5th


Myth 1: Women get bulky when they lift weights

Let’s dive into the wonderful world of weightlifting and discover why women don’t bulk up like the Incredible Hulk when they lift weights.

Now, inside our bodies, we have two main types of muscle fibres: Type I, also known as slow-twitch fibres, and Type II, also known as fast-twitch fibres. Think of Type I fibres as marathon runners, and Type II fibres as sprinters.

When we lift weights, especially heavy ones, we primarily activate our Type II muscle fibres. These fibres have a greater potential for growth and strength, which is why they’re often associated with muscle hypertrophy (or “bulking up”).

However, here’s the key point: Women, on average, possess lower levels of testosterone compared to men. Testosterone is one of the primary hormones responsible for muscle hypertrophy. Men naturally have higher levels of testosterone, making it easier for them to build muscle mass and get that “bulky” look.

Now, I want you to imagine a garden hose. When you turn the water pressure on full blast, the water gushes out forcefully, right? In this analogy, testosterone is like that powerful water pressure. Men’s bodies have a higher flow of testosterone, which gives them the potential to bulk up more easily.

On the other hand, women’s bodies have a gentler stream of testosterone, allowing them to develop lean muscle tone and definition without going full-on fire hose mode. Women can absolutely build strength and sculpt their bodies through weightlifting, but they won’t suddenly balloon into bodybuilders due to their hormonal profile.

Of course, individual genetics, training intensity, nutrition, and other factors play a role, but on the whole, women typically have a harder time building massive muscles without specific training regimens, supplements, or hormone manipulation.

So, fear not! If you’re a woman who wants to lift weights and embrace strength training, rest assured that it won’t transform you into the Hulk. Instead, you’ll sculpt a beautiful, strong physique that embodies grace, power, and confidence.

Myth 2: If you exercise, you can eat whatever you want

Let’s unravel the mystery of why exercise doesn’t grant us a free pass to indulge in all the delicious treats without consequences.

Imagine you have a car, picture your favourite car! This car represents your body’s metabolism—the engine that keeps everything running smoothly. When you exercise, it’s like taking your car out for a drive. You rev up the engine, burn some fuel, and feel energised. It’s an awesome feeling!

Now, let’s say you take your car on a joyride and burn some fuel, but then you decide to fuel it back up with the wrong kind of fuel—let’s call it junk fuel. This fuel is filled with empty calories, unhealthy fats, and excess sugar. It’s like pouring sludgy, low-quality fuel into your car’s tank.

Here’s where the problem arises: Just as your car won’t perform optimally with poor-quality fuel, your body won’t function at its best if you constantly fill it with unhealthy food choices. No matter how much you exercise, your body needs a balanced and nourishing diet to thrive.

Think of it this way: Exercise is like building a strong foundation for your body, and nutrition is the bricks that construct that foundation. Without the right building materials (nutritious food), your body won’t have the necessary resources to repair and rebuild after workouts. You might feel sluggish, lack energy, and hinder your progress toward your health and fitness goals.

Moreover, while exercise does burn calories, it’s essential to understand that the number of calories burned during a workout is often much less than we think. A typical workout might burn a few hundred calories, depending on the intensity and duration, but a single indulgent meal can easily have way more calories than that!

To put it into perspective, imagine you’re at the gym, sweating it out on the treadmill for 30 minutes, and you burn 300 calories. Then, you treat yourself to a decadent cheeseburger and fries, which could easily exceed 800 calories. In this scenario, your workout gets overshadowed by the calorie overload, making it challenging to maintain a calorie balance for weight management.

Remember, our bodies are incredibly efficient machines. They adapt to the demands we place upon them. If we consistently exercise but indulge in excessive unhealthy eating habits, our bodies may become more efficient at storing excess calories as fat instead of burning them off.

So, the key takeaway is this: Exercise is vital for overall health, strength, and fitness, but it’s not a magical spell that erases the consequences of poor nutrition. To maximise the benefits of your workouts and maintain a healthy lifestyle, it’s crucial to fuel your body with nutrient-dense foods that support your goals and provide the necessary building blocks for optimal performance.

By combining regular exercise with a balanced, wholesome diet, you’ll find yourself on the path to achieving the vibrant, energetic, and strong version of yourself that you desire. Your body will thank you with increased vitality and a well-fuelled engine that can take you wherever you want to go!

Myth 3: Training abs to burn belly fat

Here’s why training abs won’t magically melt away belly fat.

Inside our bodies, we have fat cells distributed throughout, including the area around our bellies. Think of these fat cells as tiny storage units, eagerly waiting to store any excess energy (calories) that we consume. When we consistently consume more calories than we burn, these fat cells expand and accumulate, resulting in more belly fat.

Now, let’s talk about our abdominal muscles, commonly known as abs. These muscles are located beneath the layer of fat in our midsection, acting as a supportive framework for our core. They play a crucial role in stabilising our bodies, improving posture, and enhancing overall functional movement.

When we train our abs through exercises like crunches, planks, or sit-ups, we strengthen and tone those muscles. It’s like giving them a good workout, making them stronger and more defined. But here’s the important point: No matter how much we work our abs, it won’t directly target the fat cells in that specific area.

Imagine you have a beautiful painting on a wall, and you decide to do some push-ups right in front of it. As much as you exercise and strengthen your muscles, the painting on the wall won’t magically disappear or get affected. Similarly, training your abs won’t selectively burn the fat around your belly.

The body has its own unique way of deciding where it wants to burn fat from, and unfortunately, we can’t control that process through targeted exercises alone. When we engage in any physical activity, including ab workouts, our bodies burn calories as a whole. This process happens systemically, involving all areas of the body, not just the specific muscles we’re targeting.

To truly reduce belly fat and reveal those beautifully sculpted abs, we need to focus on a comprehensive approach. It involves a combination of regular exercise, including cardiovascular activities that increase heart rate and overall calorie burn, along with the most important part a healthy, balanced diet.

By creating a calorie deficit through a combination of exercise and a mindful eating plan, our bodies start utilising stored fat from various areas, including the belly region. Over time, as we consistently maintain a healthy lifestyle, the body naturally sheds fat and reveals the underlying muscle definition, including those coveted abs.

So remember, while training abs is beneficial for strengthening and toning your core muscles, it won’t specifically burn belly fat on its own.

Embrace a holistic approach that combines cardio exercises, strength training, and a balanced diet to achieve overall fat loss, leading to a trimmer waistline and the emergence of those well-defined abs you’ve been working hard for!

Myth 4: Fasted Cardio is better for Fat Loss

Let’s talk about why fasted cardio isn’t necessarily superior for fat loss.

When we engage in any form of exercise, our bodies rely on energy to fuel the activity. This energy primarily comes from two sources: stored carbohydrates (glycogen) and stored fat. During fasted cardio, you perform cardiovascular exercise on an empty stomach, typically in the morning before eating breakfast.

Proponents of fasted cardio argue that when we haven’t consumed food for several hours, our glycogen stores are depleted, leading our bodies to tap into fat stores more readily. It’s like thinking our bodies will prioritise burning fat since there’s no immediate source of carbohydrates available.

However, here’s the intriguing twist: Our bodies are incredibly adaptive and resourceful. When we wake up in a fasted state, our cortisol levels (a stress hormone) tend to be higher, and this can potentially stimulate the breakdown of muscle tissue to provide amino acids for energy. This breakdown of muscle tissue can hinder our overall fat loss goals since maintaining muscle mass is essential for an efficient metabolism and achieving a toned physique.

Think of it this way: If you were preparing a delicious meal and had a choice between using fresh, high-quality ingredients or breaking apart a beautiful sculpture for materials, you’d likely opt for the fresh ingredients. Similarly, our bodies prefer to use readily available fuel sources like glycogen before resorting to breaking down precious muscle tissue.

What it truly comes down to is the total amount of calories burned during exercise.

This matters more for fat loss than the specific source of energy. Whether you do fasted cardio or exercise in a fed state, what ultimately matters is the total energy expenditure. In other words, if you burn the same number of calories during a cardio session, it will have a similar impact on fat loss, regardless of whether you’re in a fasted or fed state.

Additionally, the impact of fasted cardio on fat loss becomes relatively insignificant when we consider our overall daily energy balance. What we consume throughout the day, including our total calorie intake and macronutrient composition, plays a bigger role in determining fat loss progress than the timing of our cardio sessions.

To optimise fat loss, it’s essential to focus on sustainable lifestyle habits such as maintaining a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise, and creating a calorie deficit if necessary. These factors have a more significant impact on long-term fat loss and overall body composition than solely relying on fasted cardio as a magic bullet.

So, instead of fixating on the idea that fasted cardio is a superior fat loss strategy, let’s shift our attention to sustainable habits that support our overall goals. Choose forms of exercise that you enjoy, fuel your body with balanced nutrition, and focus on maintaining and building lean muscle mass. This holistic approach will help you achieve lasting results and unlock the true potential of your fitness journey.

Myth 5: I just need to exercise more to see results!

Let’s try to understand why pushing ourselves to the extreme doesn’t always translate into speedy progress.

In the world of health and fitness, we often hear the phrase “no pain, no gain.” While it’s true that pushing our limits can lead to progress, it’s important to remember that our bodies need a delicate balance of stress and recovery to achieve optimal results.

Think of your body as a magnificent garden. When you plant seeds, you need to provide them with just the right amount of sunlight, water, and nutrients. Giving them too little attention results in stunted growth, while overwhelming them with excessive care can lead to wilting and burnout.

Similarly, when we engage in exercise, we place stress on our bodies. This stress prompts our muscles, cardiovascular system, and other physiological processes to adapt and become stronger. It’s during the recovery phase that these adaptations occur, leading to progress in strength, endurance, and overall fitness.

However, when we constantly push ourselves to do more, more, and more without allowing adequate time for recovery, we risk overtraining and hindering our progress. Our bodies become overwhelmed, like an overwatered plant struggling to absorb all the excess moisture.

Overtraining can lead to a variety of negative consequences, including decreased performance, increased risk of injury, hormonal imbalances, and compromised immune function. It’s important to listen to our bodies, pay attention to signs of fatigue or burnout, and provide them with the rest and recovery they need.

Additionally, progress in fitness is not linear. Our bodies adapt to stress over time, and the rate of progress naturally slows down. Doing more and more doesn’t guarantee faster results because our bodies need time to adapt and grow stronger. It’s like building a brick wall—each brick represents a workout or training session, and it takes time for the wall to reach its full height and strength.

Other factors like nutrition, sleep quality, stress levels, and genetics also play a significant role in our progress. Neglecting these aspects while solely focusing on doing more exercise can slow down our overall results.

So, instead of falling into the trap of “more is always better,” let’s focus on balance. Incorporate rest days into your routine, prioritise quality sleep, nourish your body with proper nutrition, and allow yourself the time needed to recover and grow stronger.

Remember, the journey to fitness and health is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. It’s about finding sustainable habits that we can maintain for the long run. By honouring the delicate balance between pushing ourselves and allowing for recovery, we can achieve lasting progress and reach our goals with resilience and joy.

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