Fitness & nutrition myths, debunked

Working in the fitness industry, it’s kind of my job to keep people educated on topics pertaining to their health and wellness. Sometimes I’m amazed at the lack of information that those around me have about their fitness and their nutrition. There are so many myths out there that farrrrrr too many people believe.. here are some of my favorite ones and why you need to forget about them right away.

1. You need to go on a cleanse.

I’m just gonna go out on a limb here and tell you exactly how it is… cleanses are bullshit. They are. Congrats to you if you’ve ever done one because you wasted a lot of time and a lot money. In my opinion, cleanses are for people who are too lazy to actually learn good eating habits, and want a quick fix. It’s easy to fall for these marketing slews… drink this green drink and you will instantly feel better, clean out your cells, lose weight, stop your breakouts!

“I need to detox my body” is what I usually hear from people trying cleanses. But, if you ever took an anatomy class, and paid attention in it… you’d know that your body detoxes itself. That’s what it’s supposed to do. Toxins are naturally eliminated through your colon, liver, and kidneys. This is a natural process, and works WELL when you eat WELL. When your diet is full of processed shit, sugar, and alcohol, your body has a tough time keeping up with its own detoxification system. So what seems to be the obvious solution for this??? Changing your diet. Not picking up some green smoothie mix, starving yourself for the rest of the day, taking some pills, and spending the majority of your time on the toilet. Yes, you might lose weight on this cleanse. But the second you go back to your normal eating habits, you will gain it back. You will never see long-term, hard-earned results from a diet unless you make some serious changes to the way you eat and stick with them.

2. Calories don’t count on the weekends.

Obviously, this is a joke, people know that their calories count on the weekend, but quite frankly, they don’t care. They’ve chosen the lifestyle of eating clean Monday through Friday, and eating whatever the f*ck they want on the weekends. Besides for a cheat meal (which I’m all for)…if you want true, long-lasting results, your weekend should look exactly the the same as your weekdays. How do I know this? Because I’ve been there!!! I was a weekday dieter for the longest time. I worked so hard, I earned those calories, right? As someone who wants to be competitive in my sport (Crossfit), I was always looking for that thing I’m missing. What can I do to get a more competitive edge? My life and my training changed so much when I stopped shoving every piece of food I saw in my mouth on Saturdays & Sundays.

I get it, not all of us are competitive athletes. But if you want to feel good and look even better, and you’ve tried everything else, this might be your issue. Hint: it’s really f*cking hard. I’m not asking you to be perfect, I’m asking you to just try. Maybe instead of a whole cheat day on Sunday, make it just a cheat meal. Maybe instead of waffles and bacon with your kids on Saturday morning, you could opt for eggs and toast and veggies instead. Even though it seems like small tweaks, they help for long-term success.

3. Carbs make you fat.

What needs to change about this statement, to make it true, is just the addition of one word. Listen people, and remember. Carbs are your friends. Carbs do not make you fat. EXCESSIVE CARBS CAN MAKE YOU FAT. EX-CESS-IVE. Say it with me one more time!!! Excessive carbs can make you fat.

It’s really pretty simple, when you look at it from a scientific standpoint. It comes down to calories in versus calories out. If you intake more calories than you’re expending, you will gain weight. If you expend more calories than you take in, you will lose weight. These calories can come from ANY macro nutrient– protein, carbohydrates, or fat. So why are carbs always blamed for our weight gain???

Now, there’s lots of things we could discuss here that I would love to get into, about hormones and insulin and water retention and what happens to your body when you decide for whatever reason you need to “cut carbs.” But I’m just gonna keep it simple. Carbohydrates are the most efficient source of energy for our bodies. We run off of carbs, not proteins, not fats. Carbs, once broken down, get absorbed either immediately and used in the muscle cells for energy, or stored for later use as glycogen in the muscle and liver cells. Carbs are also VITAL to fueling the CNS (central nervous system) and brain. (I know someone reading this has had a time where they were cutting their carbs and their brain felt foggy and exhausted and they felt like they couldn’t concentrate… you were literally cutting off nutrients to your brain!)

So next time you think cutting carbs is the answer to your weight loss problems, please do some research first. Yes… you should stop stuffing your face every day with donuts, muffins, white bread, chips, and candy. But there is absolutely no reason to be scared of meals that have a portioned amount rice, potatoes, whole grains, fruit, whole grain pasta, rolled oats, etc. especially before or after your workouts!! These types carbs are your friends. This stigma around carbs is so undeserving! THEY ARE YOUR FRIENDS!

4. Eating at night makes you fat.

We’ve all heard this before, “Don’t eat after 6pm” “Don’t eat after 8pm”… whatever it is. I’ll say it again, calories in vs. calories in is what’s going to make you fat. But, timing of your meals does makes it a little more complicated. For some reason, we are under the impression that we don’t need any energy for sleep, that fasting for 8-12 hours is a good thing. I’m sorry, what??? If you care at all about your blood sugar levels (which you should)… snacking at night might not be such a bad idea. If you starve yourself from dinnertime until you wake up the next morning, you may experience some trouble sleeping, or wake up feeling groggy the next morning. This is most likely from low blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels affect your appetite and energy levels and your body’s efforts to either burn or store fat. So, pretty important if you ask me. No, don’t go for that pint of ice cream before you hit the hay. But some complex carbs or some healthy fats (like peanut butter!!!) could do some good, rather than harm.

5. Lifting weights will make you “too big.”

First off, as someone who wants to “get big”… this is absolutely insulting. It takes years of hard work, clean eating, and discipline to get too big. People work their asses off in the gym and in the kitchen to try to build muscle. So, when someone walks in the gym, and says they’re scared to pick up a weight (because just touching the weight will make you automatically gain 10lbs of muscle???) says this ridiculous phrase to me, it’s insulting. I dare you to try to get too big. Lift all the weights. Drink all the water. Eat all the good, muscle-building foods. You know what will happen? You’ll burn fat. You’ll feel better. You’ll have a ton of energy. You’ll fit better in your clothes. You’ll see your shoulders and your leg muscles start to pop out. You will be more confident in yourself. These are all the outcomes of adding weights–any kind of weights, kettlebells, dumbbells, barbells, bodyweight training– into your workout regimen. I promise you, you’ll be happy you did.

6. Light weight/high reps = “toned”

To keep it going with the rumors and myths that surround weight training… this one is a goody. I don’t even know what “toned” means, or where the term came from. I’m assuming it means when you start weight training, and eating well, you burn fat, and build some lean muscle, and you start noticing your muscles popping out when you’re walking by a mirror. “Wow, I looked so toned” is maybe what you say to yourself… I don’t know. But for those of us that workout, this is obviously a goal that we all have. We all want our hard work to show. We all want to look like we work out.

Contrary to popular belief, light weight and with high repetitions is not the way to go. Light weights, high reps, and lots of sets (high volume), are what bodybuilders do. Why do they do this? Because it builds the size of their muscles, not necessarily their strength. If you want to look like a bodybuilder, do that. Heavy weights and low repetitions, are typically what strength athletes do (depending what cycle they are in, but think powerlifters, weightlifters, football players). This is because it builds their strength of their muscles, not necessarily their size. This is why sometimes a girl may be able to deadlift 350lbs.. but she doesn’t look like a bodybuilder. Make sense?

So if you’re going for a “toned” look (honestly, I wish we could get rid of that term forever)… you should be doing moderate volume, somewhere in the middle of what I just explained. Moderate weight (don’t be scared to go heavier!!!) for moderate reps and sets. the 10-15 rep range for 3-5 sets is sufficient. To build muscle (the toned look that you seek) the muscle needs to be overloaded, or challenged. So don’t be scared to grab a heavier dumbbell or throw some more weight on that barbell. Your body will thank you.

7. You need supplements.

Ok, I’ll say this, with this statement, there are exceptions. But I guarantee some of the supplements you spend lots of money on, are a complete waste.

So let’s start with what actually works. Creatine is just about the only scientifically-proven, legal, training aid out there. Creatine phosphate, naturally made by our bodies, supplies our fast-twitch muscle fibers with immediate energy.  When you supplement with creatine, basically your muscles can produce more energy, and faster. This is really helpful in training harder, and more often. But… its only really effective for short bursts of power. Creatine is a great supplement for sprint training, weightlifting, high-intensity exercise. You can perform well without creatine supplementation, so it is not necessary, but it may be something you’d want to try if you’re looking to get that extra edge.

Next, lets talk protein powder. First thing’s first, protein powder and shakes are meant to be supplements. Meaning they supplement your diet. They don’t replace anything. A protein shake is not a replacement for a meal with real food. Real food always take precedence. I recommend protein powder for people who come to me and say they feel like they’re not getting enough protein. I say, “Eat 3 meals a day with a protein source, and a shake with water after your workout.” That’s it. You don’t need 5 protein shakes a day to gain muscle. If you have trouble getting enough protein in your day, then protein shakes are an easy way to help. But, getting enough protein without protein shakes is absolutely do-able.

If you do supplement with protein powder, or you are eating a well-balanced diet with high-quality protein, you are getting plenty of essential amino acids (there’s 9 of  them). With that being said, you don’t need to buy BCAA’s (branch chained amino acids, 3 of the essential amino acids that you need) that come in the form of flavored powder you drink with water during your workout. They are a waste of money. They are marketed to make you think that during your grueling workout, your body needs to be replenished with amino acids right then and there. Wrong. You can get plenty of these necessary amino acids, before and after your workout, from high-quality proteins like meat, eggs, dairy, and whey protein supplements. Supplementing even more is just wasteful and not necessary.

 

Hope you guys enjoyed!! Feel free to ask if you have any questions :))

 

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