Health and fitness shouldn't be just a week-long fad. It should be a life-long pursuit. Each new gain should bring about a slew of new goals: If you lose 20 pounds, sign up for a 5K; if you reach a new squat PR, see what you can do about your deadlift. There's no end to how far you can take your fitness. The problem for most is just getting started.
As a beginner, you may fall prey to the inconsistencies and falsehoods spread by the uneducated and the untrained. (As if getting off the couch isn't hard enough!) The best way to go into the fitness world is through the doors of knowledge. If you learn a little before you start, you'll be much better equipped to deal with setbacks, plateaus, nutrition questions, and training debacles.
If you haven't already, check out the first 25 debunked fitness myths before you read the next 25. Although these myth-busting articles won't necessarily turn you into an Arnold look-alike, they will help you make smart choices and find real ways to meet your fitness objectives.
Myth 26: I can spot-reduce my problem areas
TRUTH: Spot-reduction is not possible unless you go for liposuction. Without such surgery, your body will draw fat from different regions at different rates depending on your genetic makeup.
If spot reduction was possible by training and diet, you'd seldom see women with lower-body fat deposits or men with big guts.
Myth 27: A protein bar is a good substitution for a meal
TRUTH: Nope. Protein bars are highly processed, unless you make them yourself. Highly processed food requires fewer calories to digest, so that benefit is diminished. I love protein bars, but I eat them as treats to be eaten instead of, say, a Snickers bar.
Myth 28: Muscle definition comes from lifting light weight for many reps
TRUTH: Leanness and muscle definition come from having muscle mass and low body fat. If you train with light weights only, you just won't build muscle. If you don't have any muscle mass, you won't burn much fat. If you have low body fat coupled with small muscles, you'll have nothing to show off!
Myth 29: Carbs are found only in bread and noodles
TRUTH: Wrong. You also find carbs in grains, starches, fruit, vegetables, dairy, nuts, and seeds.
Myth 30: My calcium must come from dairy
TRUTH: You can get calcium from vegan sources like broccoli and sesame seeds, but in order to get the recommended intake of elemental calcium, you need to eat plenty! Dietitians forget that you cannot consume one cup of sesame seeds per day on a fat-loss diet.
A cup of sesame seeds would provide 1400 mgs of calcium—but also 825 calories. Two pounds of broccoli would yield 426 mgs of calcium, but broccoli also contains oxalic acid which inhibits calcium absorption. Sea vegetables, like hijiki, contain arsenic in addition to the high calcium content.
Supplementation is a good idea, but you may need to take more than you think. Calcium carbonate is a source of calcium that has 40 percent elemental calcium, so when the label on the bottle reads: "1000 mgs per serving," it means you only get 400 mgs out of it.
Calcium citrate is 20 percent elemental, therefore 1000mgs of calcium citrate yields 200 mgs. Before you supp, make sure you know how much calcium you need and compare it to the label.
Myth 31: If you want to compete, your diet must consist only of chicken and broccoli
TRUTH: This is an old school bodybuilding mentality that came about due to lack of knowledge about nutrients and what they do for you. If you eat only 2-3 sources of food, you'll end up nutrient deficient. Plus who wants to eat chicken and broccoli all day?
Myth 32: You can't gain muscle after 40
TRUTH: Age does bring wear and tear, but at 40 you're still a training baby unless you've been a competitive professional athlete since you were a teenager. You can gain muscle despite hormonal deficiencies—it just may be a tad harder.
If you are over 40, you might want to go check your blood and run some saliva tests to rule out deficiencies. If you're deficient in some hormones, you may want to look into replacement therapy so you aren't at risk for heart disease or osteoporosis.
Myth 33: The more you sweat, the more fat you lose
TRUTH: Sweat has nothing to do with intensity; it's your body's way of getting rid of heat. Fat is oxidized inside your body, and it is not going to vaporize because you're sweating!
Myth 34: Avocados, peanut butter, and oils are "clean" and can help you lose weight
TRUTH: Healthy fats are an important part of your diet, but having even a 100 percent clean diet doesn't mean you'll lose weight. You can be overweight and eat nothing but "clean" food.
Myth 35: Fruit is a healthy snack that can't make you fat
TRUTH: Humans eat food because it gives us nutrients and fuel, but any kind of food, no matter how healthy, can make you gain weight. Fruit has a lot of easily accessible carbs. When you provide your body with easily accessible carbs, you're basically telling it to stop burning body fat for fuel.
Myth 36: Yoga will get you ripped
TRUTH: Unless you're doing hot yoga, yoga doesn't burn many calories because it doesn't require much oxygen. It also doesn't stimulate muscle growth in the same way that weight training does. Most buff and ripped yoga bunnies weight train and practice yoga.
Sure, you can "get ripped" doing yoga if you don't eat—but you're not going to have a decent amount of muscle mass.
Myth 37: Doing cardio before weights will help you get shredded faster
TRUTH: If you run on a treadmill before you hit the weights, you'll be too fatigued to train as heavy as you can. You need muscle, not miles to burn fat.
Myth 38: Caffeine has only negative effects on the body
TRUTH: The problems with caffeine occur mostly because of overconsumption. But with moderate use, caffeine has many benefits beyond that of energy for athletic performance.
Do yourself a favor and check out PubMed to see some studies about the positive benefits of moderate caffeine consumption.
Myth 39: BCAAs are the same thing as protein
TRUTH: Protein is a complex of several amino acids linked together. BCAAs are branched chain amino acids: L-leucine, iso-leucine and L-valine. These three amino acids are the most abundant type in muscle tissue. If you take BCAAs before and after you work out, you protect your muscles from breakdown.
However, BCAAs release insulin, which makes them anabolic just like carbs. Because they act like carbs, it's probably best not to take them before a low-intensity cardio workout—especially if you're trying to burn that last pound or two of body fat.
Myth 40: Creatine causes massive weight gain
TRUTH: Creatine is found naturally in your body. Creatine's primary use is as an energy source. Creatine pulls water with it into the muscle cell, which can cause the cell to volumize. Volumized cells are healthy and, in super-jacked people, can actually make muscles look bigger.
The reason for the weight-gain myth is that most people combine a creatine supplement with carbs and other bulking food. Combined with sugar, creatine can cause subcutaneous water gain.
Myth 41: High-protein diets are bad for your kidneys
TRUTH: Protein taxes the kidneys because they have to work harder to process it. Healthy people without a preexisting kidney condition are fine to eat a lot of protein as long as they drink a lot of water too.
Myth 42: Cleanse products will only enhance your results
TRUTH: Medically, there's no reason to do a cleanse. Your body has natural ways of detoxifying. If you eat a healthy diet that includes a lot of vegetables. A cleanse is a waste of money.
Myth 43: All protein powder is the same, so it doesn't matter which one I use
TRUTH: There are many different types of protein: soy, casein, egg and whey (to name a few). Each of these protein powder types work a little differently, and each kind of protein has a different amount of carbs, fat, cholesterol, and calories.
Protein taste also varies depending on brand and type. Choose a protein that's right for your goals and price point.
Myth 44: Soy is a great alternative to whey protein
TRUTH: Soy protein has a lower Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score than animal products. It's not as well-balanced in essential amino acids. It is an alternative. Whether it's a "great" alternative is up to you and depends on your goal.
Myth 45: Soy is the only protein you can use if you are a vegetarian
TRUTH: Soy isn't the only option. You can have rice protein, hemp protein, and pea protein. There are plenty of options. You just need to do a little research.
Myth 46: The only way to lose weight is by cutting out all carbs
TRUTH: The only way to lose the right amount of weight is by adopting a diet than supports your goal, training with weights, and doing some cardio. Your program should include all of these aspects long enough to see a difference. Diet, weights, and cardio—the holy trinity of fitness!
Myth 47: All vegetables are created the same, so I can swap any veggies I don't like for ones that I love
TRUTH: Vegetables contain different amounts of calories. Some have 12 grams per 100 calories, others have 80 calories. You cannot swap broccoli for turnips without having to recalculate your calories.
Myth 48: If you aren't sore the next day, your workout wasn't hard enough
TRUTH: Soreness is inflammation and the chemical response to inflammation. The only yardstick by which you need to measure progress is that of your goal. There are Olympic athletes who haven't felt soreness in years. Judge your workout by what happens during that workout.
If you hit a PR, and you aren't sore the next day, it doesn't mean you didn't expend enough energy, it means your energy expenditure was just right. Judging your progress by a pain threshold is incorrect—you don't have to have soreness to gain muscle size or strength.
Myth 49: If you want to get in shape, you have to run for long distances
TRUTH: Your fitness success depends upon your goal. If you want to be able to run 10 miles without breaking a sweat, then yes, you'll have to run.
If your goal is fat loss or muscle gain, running for miles and miles may not be the best way to lose pounds. The more efficient your body becomes at running, the fewer calories you'll burn.
Myth 50: Big muscles are strong muscles
TRUTH: There's a difference between training your muscles to be big and training your muscles to be strong. For physique athletes, size and shape—not strength—is the ultimate goal. For athletes, strength for maximum effort is most important.
I'm not saying that big muscles aren't strong, but put a bodybuilder and an Olympic lifter in front of a loaded barbell and see who can clean the most weight. Either person is capable of being strong or built—it's all a matter of training for a specific goal.