10 Health & Fitness Myths: Fact or Fiction

A girl using a fitness machine in the gym at Cofton

In this months blog, Lewis looks into 10 health and fitness myths that we’ve all heard and separates the fact from fiction.

MYTH 1: Lifting weights makes women bulky 

Truth – No need to worry, lifting weights will not instantly make you bulky. There is a lot of work needed to pile on the muscle, if you keep the reps high at 15-20 reps you should build endurance strength and toned muscle without bulking.

Lifting between 60-75% of your 1 rep max for 6-12 reps is proven to help increase your bone density for stronger bones to decrease the likely hood of fractures from falls. This may sound too challenging, but it really isn’t and I have many clients in their 60-70’s with various ailments meeting these requirements.  

MYTH 2: You should avoid one entire food type to lose weight (fat, carbs, protein) 

Truth – This could lead to an unhealthy relationship with food, with added stress and poor sleep which won’t help you with your weight loss goals.

A balanced healthy diet with lots of fruit and veg will lead to steady continued long-term progress as you will need the energy and building blocks of fat, carbs and protein in your diet for a healthier mind and body.

Portion control is key, and this is made more difficult with the ease of access and affordability to high processed foods. Trying to stick to single ingredient foods and meals that you make from scratch will be more beneficial to weight loss. You may need to change your home food environment to avoid temptation by not having as much high-processed foods in the cupboard. 

MYTH 3: Calories are calories, it doesn’t matter what you eat 

Truth – It matters a lot. A well-balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veg will pack a lot of vital vitamins, minerals and fibre to keep your body functioning properly.

Having a lot of high processed foods in your diet can increase the number of calories you consume as the super tasty scientifically designed food will trigger the reward part of your brain and override any level of fullness. This can lead to weight gain and/or more stress put onto your digestive, inflammatory and immune systems meaning that you will have less energy for physical activity and exercise.  

MYTH 4: Abs exercises are the best for toning tummies 

Truth – All exercise is good as long as it is safe and at the appropriate intensity. Just exercising abs to burn belly fat will not work as you will need a good nutrition plan to lose excess body fat by being on a calorie deficit.

Doing compound movements like squats, deadlifts, chest press, rowing, push and pulling exercises that use multiple muscle groups will help develop overall strength for a more toned body shape. So if you want to do abs specific exercises that’s great, but you shouldn’t prioritise them over more important compound exercises. You can leave core specific exercises until the end of the session or do them on your off days.  

MYTH 5: Deadlifts are bad for your back and squats are bad for your knees

Truth – Lifting weights is not dangerous as long as you are working at the appropriate intensity for your ability. You are less likely to get injured in a gym than you are outside or at home.

Injuries mostly happen because you are performing a movement at an intensity that you are not used to. The best way to avoid future injuries is by getting stronger, you can do this with squats and deadlift. Perform these movement at the right dosage and then increase the dose as you get stronger.

Backs and knees have evolved to be used in many movements and under varying loads. If you use them in multiple different movements and patterns under load you will develop strength in your muscles and joints that will protect your back and knees whilst performing everyday tasks and activities.

MYTH 6: You need a lot of protein to gain muscle and lose weight (2 grams per kilogram of body weight)

Truth – You are probably getting enough protein already. The recommended amount is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight depending on your body weight and goals.

If you are obese, then you should not try to measure protein intake under this rule otherwise you will be consuming far too much food and protein. It would be better to increase the percentage of your portions for protein to 30% to 40% of your plate per meal.

Increasing your protein consumption can improve your satiety making you feel fuller quicker as your body keeps track of your protein intake and sends signals to your brain to say that you are full, so try eating your protein, fibrous fruit and veg first.

MYTH 7: Exercise should only be done with perfect form

Truth – All exercise is good if done safely and at an appropriate level for your ability.

Having perfect form every time can have its own draw backs as your body wouldn’t be able to tolerate lifting in a varying position causing an increased risk of injury if you slip out of your normal routine. Also, using the same exercise and lifting exactly the same way all the time can lead to repetitive strain injuries and tendon issues.

Lifting with a rounded back sometimes cannot be avoided because of your mobility, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it. If the exercise you are doing feels fine and is not causing unintentional discomfort, then you are probably ok with the way you are doing it. Most of the time any exercise is better than no exercise at all, so don’t be put off by these big green tick and big red X videos online as they are not helpful and can put people off exercise.

MYTH 8: You need to have supplements to meet your weight loss, health or muscle building goals

Truth – You only need supplements if you currently have a deficiency and when instructed by a medical professional. You may already be getting exactly what you need naturally in your diet.

You should speak to your GP or pharmacist before taking any supplements as they can cause more harm than good. You will also need to make sure that the supplements are certified and checked by a leading authority as some can have extra things added that are harmful, not helpful at all, or not include the ingredients and/or quantity advertised.

Taking supplements should not be seen as a short cut or alternative for a healthy nutrition plan or exercise.

MYTH 9: Weight loss is best achieved by dieting or exercise, but not both

Truth – The studies currently show that you can lose weight using only one method, but it is difficult and harder to maintain as most people respond better to a combined effort of exercise and nutrition for weight loss.

You are less likely to relapse and put your weight back on if you exercise as well as diet. Exercise alone cannot easily help as you will have a constrained total body daily expenditure meaning that you will reach a limit to how many calories that you can burn a week.

When you diet only, you will lose more muscle mass, leading to a build-up of constant hunger until the muscle mass has come back, this is why people generally put on more weight when they relapse because your hunger wont balance out until the muscle mass has been recovered.

MYTH 10: Social media influencers look the way they do because of the methods they preach online

Truth – Not really and not all of the time. Genetics plays a huge role in their appearance and you should definitely ignore anyone that deliberately puts on weight to then lose it again and say that weight loss is easy because they did it.

Weight loss is definitely not easy and is far more complicated than they understand. Some social media influencers push products to their followers to make a quick buck despite the fact that it will do little to nothing to help you whether its dietary supplements, meal replacements, training programs or equipment. A lot of influencers have good intentions, but may still be misleading clients with outdated methods, exercise myths with no evidence and/or promoting click bait material to improve their ratings.

The best influencers don’t always have the most followers, but they will include links to the evidence they preach or give you enough information about it to for you to look into it yourselves and make a sound judgment. Bottom line is: if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably isn’t.

There is no miracle exercise or piece of equipment, so if someone says this is the only way to do this, then they are probably misleading you or do not have enough understanding of the principles of exercise and nutrition. If in doubt, seek an expert professional with qualifications and experience in their field.

Personal Training Service

If you’re looking for help to achieve your personal fitness goals, our one-to-one Personal Training service offers a program tailored for you. Our Personal Trainer Lewis, is available to offer both fitness and nutritional advice as well as Personal Training programs. Please contact our Leisure Desk where one of the team will be happy to book you in for a consultation with Lewis.