There seems to be a never-ending supply of fitness myths floating around.
In a continued effort to stop the steady flow of misinformed advice being passed from gym buddy to gym buddy, we've found MORE myths for our readers to avoid.
Let's start with losing weight. Some people seem to think the best way to lose weight is to drastically cut calories.
Any trainer will say that is simply NOT true and probably advise that women eat no less than 1,200 calories a day, while men should eat no less than 1,800. If we digest too little, "our body believes that it’s starving so our metabolism slows down and holds onto fat as a potential energy source.”
The trick is to cut back on eating a lot of food in one meal and splitting daily calorie intake up into five or six smaller meals, which will keep the metabolism burning faster.
Speaking of burning calories, have you ever heard of "the fat-burning zone"? The theory is that if we exercise between 60% or 70% of our maximum heart, we'll burn fat faster. Fitness research director Wayne Westcott says otherwise:
“The fat-burning zone is a complete myth. While it’s true that you burn a higher percentage of fat calories when exercising at a moderate pace, you burn fewer calories overall. It’s much better to go at the faster speed.”
Let's talk about weights. We know some women are terrified of venturing into the free weight area of the gym for two reasons — everyone might stare or their muscles will get too big. First of all, don't be worried about other people when working out. Secondly, women have to try really, really hard to get that bodybuilding bulk they're afraid of. Personal trainer and Prevention contributing editor Chris Freytag explains:
“This just isn’t possible for most women. Ladies have too much estrogen in their hormone makeup. Yes, heavier weights build muscle and strength, but most of us women aren’t lifting anything so heavy that we are at risk for building man muscles.”
Similarly, only increasing cardio is NOT the best way to bypass a fitness plateau. Mixing cardio and weight lifting is:
“The most effective way to lose weight is to include both cardio and weights in your routine. One study found that when individuals cycled for 30 minutes a day, they lost three pounds of fat and gained a half pound of muscle in eight weeks. But individuals who cycled for 15 minutes and weight trained for 15 minutes a day lost 10 pounds of fat and gained two pounds of calorie-burning muscle.”
We all want abs, but crunches are not the fastest way to a flat stomach. Eating right and burning calories will do the trick, while ab exercises simply tone the muscle hiding under your belly fat.
“Doing abdominal exercises can strengthen the different ab muscles, but it won't burn body fat and reveal the ‘6-pack look. Abs are made in the kitchen—not from doing crunches."
While we're talking about stomachs, some peeps have this crazy idea that the best time to burn fat is on an empty stomach. Some believe that our body will dig into reserve fats if we haven't eaten, but we actually NEED food to burn fat:
“Science has shown you need to have some glucose in your system in order to ignite your fat-burning furnaces. If you run out of stored glucose, your flame goes out and you start burning up muscle.”
If losing weight is the goal, don't think diet soda will help you achieve it. Skip the 0 calorie soda for 0 calorie and chemical-free water:
“A study at Purdue University found that rats given artificial sweeteners ate more calories and gained more weight than rats given sugar. A better option is to drink water that is naturally flavored with lemon or cucumber slices to keep calories low and hydration high.”
Last, but not least, let's talk about squats! They are one of the best exercises for the entire lower body, but people fear squats will make the butt big. The rumpus will certainly get more muscular from the exercise, but that's about it:
“We all know what makes your butt big and it isn’t squats. All of us who sit in front of a computer, at desk, or in a car seat all day are at risk for developing weak glutes unless we actively do something about it. Science shows that this move will help to lift, firm, and strengthen your buns. Just be sure to focus on good form. Keep your knees above your shoe laces and sit back into an imaginary chair; squeeze through your glutes as you return to standing.”
What did we learn? Don't be afraid to pick up those weights, ladies! Eat healthy and make sure you eat before you work out, but replace your usual diet soda with a nice, cold glass of water!