As a bodybuilder I am no fan of fat. I try to avoid fat like a plague. Fat covers hard earned muscle, reducing definition to almost nothing and is unsightly in itself. But just because I want to avoid being fat does not mean I avoid eating fat. This is just one of the many misconceptions I plan to discuss here.
1. Eating Fat Will Make You Fat:
This is not completely true. There are more forces that make you fat than actually eating fat. There are many healthy fats out there that actually encourage weight loss in the body. Flax seed oil is just one example of such a fat. Sugar is a key component in gaining fat. Cutting down on simple and even complex carbs, to an extent, has shown to be much more effective than cutting out fat. Simple sugars such as juice, coke, and stuff in the candy line should be first priority. This is not to say that cutting down on fat will not help. Avoiding McDonald's should go without saying if weight-loss is the goal. The problem is I've heard far to many people say they were trying to lose weight on a low fat diet and they didn't even know the role carbs could play in their goals.
2. If You Stop Working Out Your Muscles Will Turn Into Fat:
This is a horrible idea with no truth behind it. Muscle cannot turn into fat any more than your legs can turn into extra arms. They are completely different body parts. Once you quit working out your muscles will slowly reduce in size, they won't turn into a fatty mush. Just as true is the fact that you cannot turn fat into muscle.
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If you are very overweight you need to lose the fat through cardio before you'll see your muscle. Your fat will not just turn into muscle. The body does not now, nor has it ever worked that way. Where I believe this idea may have come from is when people bulk to add muscle mass they will also gain fat. Once the person quits weight-lifting they may be left with extra fat mass than they started with. But this is from the bulking process, not from the transformation of muscle to fat.
3. Muscle Definition Is Increased By "Muscle Defining" Exercises:
Wrong! Muscle definition is determined by the size of the muscle and the amount of fat covering it. You cannot define a muscle through exercises like that. Muscles go through two stages, they grow or they don't. They don't change shape depending on the exercises you choose. Muscle shape is determined by your genetics. If you want great muscle definition, do cardio. I've heard a lot of people in the gym saying "I don't want big muscles, I'm just going to define them", and then they wander off doing exercises they think are "defining" their muscles. Build big muscles and then strip the fat off. Then, and only then, will you see definition?
4. Certain Exercises Can Remove Fat From Certain Spots.
I couldn't count the number of overweight people I've seen doing crunches (usually on a fancy machine) thinking they are just burning away the fat from their midsections. All they are doing in fact is building their abs under God knows how many layers of fat. Crunches do not burn fat, cardio does.
The best way to get great abs is to go for a run. Once that fat is gone from the midsection then you'll see your abs.
Spot reduction is impossible unless you plan on getting liposuction. The body must use more calories than it consumed and then it will remove and burn fat from where it wants. Keep doing this until it has no other deposits to remove fat from but the one you are trying to hit. Where your fat is stored at first and removed from first is determined by genetics. It tends to be hips and butt in women and the midsection for men.
5. Protein Shakes Will Make You Fat:
This one always entertains me as it is usually said to me by people who not only know nothing about protein shakes themselves, but they usually don't even know what protein even does in the body. Protein is a major building block in muscle building, remove it and muscle growth will slow to a crawl. Protein is not fattening. Whey protein powder (as used in most protein shakes) contains roughly 24 grams of protein per serving, 2-3 grams of carbs and is usually fat free. Add milk and you get more protein, very little extra fat, depending on the milk, and a bit more sugar.
Shakes post workout is ideal and very useful, I would recommend everyone take one as protein is needed as soon as possible after a workout and nothing will be faster in getting to the muscles. Protein weight gainers may have slightly higher tendencies to cause fat gain. They contain around 700 calories and can contain up to 130 carbs per serving. That much sugar could certainly be stored as fat, but as for your regular protein shakes I see no chance of gaining fat there.
6. Creatine Can Make You Fat:
This, like the protein idea, is invalid. Creatine contains nothing capable of making someone fat. Where I believe this idea comes from is creatine's ability to make a person retain water. This can give a person the appearance of gaining fat, as muscle definition could be lost as the water weight covers it. This water retention will go away as soon as the person stops using creatine. This is not a "side effect" of creatine, it is actually a useful function of it. Muscles grow best when indulged in water, so water-retention is a good step in the body-building process.
Reasons for fat misconceptions are due to under-education on the part of the general public. People assume they know how to burn fat properly which is usually misguided. This is especially true in the case of fat in the midsection where people think they are burning off fat because they feel a burning feeling while doing sit-ups. As discussed before, that is merely working the ab muscles, but is doing nothing to the countless layers of fat covering them.
Under-education is especially bad around people who attack protein, and more specifically, protein shakes. These nutrition aids should be highly respected, not attacked, as research after research shows all the benefits of taking them. And remember that although gaining to much fat may be a bad idea to people who want good definition for their muscles, eating healthy fat should not be avoided as it can actually promote fat loss.
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