Perhaps you have been contemplating starting a new fitness routine. You have bought new sneakers, new workout clothes, and even a new recipe book for your new healthy lifestyle. Then, right as you begin, all your friends, family and co-workers begin to advise you what to do or what not to do. We have heard things such as “women should not lift weights,” and “low/no fat foods are better for you.” Let’s explore some of these common myths in health and fitness and determine what is true and what is not.
Myth #1 – “The substitute”
Consider this: the average human drinks 92 Coke products per year. The average American drinks 403 Coke products per year. That’s an astonishing number.
A couple of decades ago, the dangers of excessive sugar consumption became public knowledge. Food companies subsequently adjusted their marketing strategy and began to offer “light,” “diet” and “zero-sugar” products. These labels deceive the common American through two methods. One, these “diet” products give the consumer a green light to eat more. Two, these products depict substitute sugar as a weight loss product.
For example, you may drink a sugar substitute soft drink, saving yourself 100 calories. Then you pick up a sugar free chocolate chip cookie and, because it is labeled “diet” or “light,” end up eating 10 of them. Not exactly a weigh loss technique.
Common substitutes used in foods and drinks include Saccharine, Aspartame, Maltitol, Sorbitol and more. There are healthier alternatives. Stevia is produced from a natural plant. Used in moderation, just like real sugar, Stevia is non-toxic and has been in use for over 1500 years. Xylitol is also found on the shelves as a safer substitute. If you are trying to lose weight, or if you have insulin sensitivity, you should truly stay away from all sugar and sweeteners.
Myth #2 – “Fat is bad”
No, bad fat is bad.
Many wrongly believe that all fat raises LDL(bad) cholesterol. Saturated fat actually raises both LDL (bad) and HDL (good) cholesterol simultaneously. In other words it has no net effect on cholesterol.
Good fat actually provides more clean energy than any other nutrient. Each gram of fat provides nine calories of energy for the body, compared with four calories per gram for both carbohydrates and protein. According to Dr. William Sears, “fats provide a source for building a better brain, help the body use vitamins, provide better skin, and much more.” Good fat can be found in coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, almonds, salmon, grass fed beef and many other whole food sources.
Myth #3 – “60 minutes”
A common misconception is that the longer the time you spend exercising, the more calories you burn. In some cases that may be true, but wouldn’t it be great to complete a better routine in less time? Surge training or burst training can, in many cases, have better results than a long, slow 60-minute workout.
Surge training occurs in 20-40 second bursts, conducting any exercise in a high intensity method, and then resting the same amount of time. For example, 30 seconds of work, followed by 30 seconds of rest, and then repeated 8-12 times. This method releases certain hormones that turn your body into a fat burning machine. Increasing these hormones causes the fat burning process to continue long past the time of the actual workout.
Myth #4 – “Don’t lift heavy”
This depends largely on your particular fitness goals. However, whether you are aiming to lose weight or to gain muscle, lifting moderately heavy can help shred fat. Lifting heavy weight will not only make you a stronger person, it will allow your muscle form and definition to show once the body fat decreases.
A very common myth among women is that lifting heavy will make you big or bulky. It definitely will not. Eating the wrong nutrients will make you big and bulky. Lifting will actually tone your muscles and speed the fat burning process. It takes massive amounts of time, nutritional supplements and lifting for a woman to get bulky. Ladies, resistance and weight training is essential for toning your bodies and will not make you look like a bodybuilder.
Another weightlifting myth is that you will get hurt if you lift heavy. As with all athletics, injury is certainly a possibility when lifting heavy weight. However, an athlete is more likely to get injured while using light weight. People tend to go much faster at a lower weight, causing their technique to suffer and making them more injury prone. Supervision and coaching is highly recommended when performing technical lifting, using heavy weight or exercising at high intensity.
Myth #5 – “Machines are safer than free weight”
Many tend to think that this is the case. On the contrary, machines actually limit your range of motion and cause your body to perform unnatural movements. Many machines do the work for you, and many don’t fit the body correctly. Worst of all, the motion performed on a machine is nothing like the real, natural movement. For example, in the gym many people use machine curls to exercise the biceps. While there is nothing wrong with this per se, in real life there is almost no moment where we use the curl. We also don’t push anything in real life by sitting and pushing with our legs, but that is how the legs are trained using a machine in the gym.
There are plenty of safe methods by which to use free weight. Always ask for supervision or coaching if you are not familiar with the range of motion or exercise.
Real fitness comes as a result of impletementing real facts and strategies, not by believing subjective opinions and misleading myths. Don’t be fooled by the latest trend or marketing ploy. By eating natural, whole foods and training your body using real-world movements that God designed it to do, a genuine state of health and fitness can be attained.