With the fitness industry being one of the most lucrative on the planet, it can be tough to find any nuggets of truth among the marketing ploys and fluff pieces designed to empty your pockets while leaving you no more informed. Knowing the truth about the following food and fitness myths will put you on a track you can trust to meet your fitness goals.
Myth 1: It’s best to stretch before a workout
Truth: In 2010, researchers at Florida State University asked athletes to stretch before running for an hour; the same group was later asked to forgo the stretching and run for the same amount of time. The results were telling: when they didn’t stretch before their workout, all of the athletes were able to cover more distance while expending less energy. As a matter of fact, additional research has indicated that pre-workout stretching might even increase your risk of injury by temporarily weakening your muscles and decreasing your stability.
Myth 2: Lifting weights will make you look big and bulky
Truth: A lot of women avoid hitting the weights for fear of adding more mass when they’re trying to lose weight. But the truth is, women simply don’t have enough testosterone to bulk up like their male counterparts. In fact, men have up to 30 times more of the muscle-building hormone than women, making it virtually impossible for ladies to achieve the brawny results they’re so fearful of without the help of steroids. Women who regularly lift weights will only strengthen their weight loss efforts because the more lean muscle we have, the more calories we burn simply by sitting on the couch.
Myth 3: Ab workouts will reduce belly fat
Truth: All of those advertisements screaming, “blast belly fat with these exercises” and “lose 2 inches off your waist with these pills” are, plainly and simply, lying to you. It’d be great if we could crunch our way to a flat tummy, but the sober truth is, no matter which exercises we’re doing, it’s genetics that dictate from where our fat falls. The good news is that all of your crunching isn’t for naught: it’ll give you beautiful abs once you lose enough overall body fat to show ‘em off, a task that requires little more than a healthy diet and a well-rounded exercise program.
Myth 4: Protein bars are good meal replacements
Truth: You know that delicious, peanut buttery, chocolatey protein bar you grab in lieu of a real breakfast before work? If you ever wonder whether it tastes too good to be true, pat yourself on the back because it probably is. Most protein bars on the market are nothing but candy bars in disguise. A glance over the ingredients will show that many have as much sugar as a Snickers bar and enough trans fat to seriously deflate your weight loss mission. If you’re really pressed for time, a scoop of real peanut butter or a cup of Greek yogurt will fill you up just the same without the secret sabotage.
Myth 5: More gym time means more weight loss
Truth: Back-to-back 90 minute treadmill sessions might actually hurt your efforts more than help. For one thing, fat can’t be burned without carbohydrates. Once your body’s carb stores are depleted, the energy you need to keep going comes from your muscles. That means that when you do cardio past a certain point (about 45 minutes for the average person) your body starts to lose the lean muscle mass it needs to keep your metabolism in check (i.e. keep you thin). Additionally, long consecutive days at the gym will exhaust your body overall, increasing the time it takes to recover, and decreasing your chances of reaching your goals. Efficient, 1-hour gym sessions most days of the week is plenty to keep your body tight without secretly sabotaging your efforts.
Looking for more fitness facts? These books are full of them, along with a ton of other useful information.