Fitness and Nutrition Myths Exposed – Learn The Shocking Truth


Many fitness and nutrition myths pervade the gym, media outlets, magazines, and the Internet. There are so many in fact, that this will be a three-part article, and still won’t address every one. When these myths are accepted as true, they could lead to injury, muscle imbalance, possible malnutrition, and are basically a waste of your time.

Myth #1 – If you eat after 7 p.m. you will gain weight.

Truth: Energy balance determines your body weight. If your energy intake (food and drink) is greater than your energy expenditure, then you will gain weight. This is called a positive energy balance. If your energy intake is less than your energy expenditure, then you will lose weight, known as a negative energy balance. This is most accurately calculated over a number of days or even weeks, and not on a daily basis.

Myth #2 – If you eat carbs after 7 p.m. you will gain weight.

Truth: See the truth to myth #1 (above).

Myth #3 – If you are a woman and you lift weights, you will get bulky like Arnold Swarzenegger.

Truth: Women do not have enough natural testosterone to build large muscles.

Myth #4 – You have to be very flexible to do yoga.

Truth: Yoga can be as gentle or as challenging as you want. As you become more comfortable and acclimated to the poses, you will probably find that you are becoming more flexible. There are also yoga blocks and other products to assist you.

Myth #5 – Crunches will give you washboard abs.

Truth: Your abdominal muscles may be developed, but until you rid yourself of mid-section fat, crunches aren’t going to help you see them. You can’t spot-reduce fat.

Myth #6 – Drinking water during exercise gives you cramps.

Truth: During exercise, the body is losing fluids. To keep from getting dehydrated and to replenish the tissues in your body, you should re-hydrate. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you drink 8 – 16 oz. of water an hour before you exercise, 4 – 8 oz. during every 15 minutes of activity, and then 16 – 24 oz. within 30 minutes after you exercise.

Myth #7 – Eating candy bars, honey, sugar, or drinking soda immediately before exercising will provide a quick burst of energy.

Truth: The sugar in these will increase the amount of insulin in your blood, causing the sugar to be removed too quickly from your blood. Because of this, you will often find yourself feeling tired and weak.

Myth #8 – Cardio, cardio, cardio is the way to lose weight.

Truth: Cardiovascular exercise will help you expend energy, but if your energy intake exceeds your energy expenditure, you will gain weight.

Myth #9 – Nautilus or other weight stack machines are safer than free weights.

Truth: A weight stack machine may assist in helping you keep proper form, but you can still get hurt if you aren’t using it as it is intended. Using proper form and lifting the appropriate amount of weight will ensure that you do not injure yourself while exercising. When in doubt, ask a professional for assistance.

Myth #10 – You can spot reduce fat.

Truth: Energy or caloric deficit causes you to lose fat. Your genetics will determine where this loss of fat will first appear.

Many fitness and nutrition myths pervade the gym, media outlets, magazines, and the Internet. There are so many in fact, that this will be a three-part article, and still won’t address every one. When these myths are accepted as true, they could lead to injury, muscle imbalance, possible malnutrition, and are basically a waste of your time.

Myth #11 – The best time to exercise is in the morning.

Truth: The best time to exercise is based on you. Some people are “morning people” and find they are most productive before noon. If this describes you, then you should exercise in the morning. However, others, whether through personal preference or due to their schedules, find it easier to work out in the afternoon or evening. This is what they should do. The time of day that you exercise isn’t important. You will burn the same number of calories and build the same amount of muscle in the morning or in the evening.

Myth #12 – No pain, no gain.

Truth: Soreness is different from pain. If you are sore after you exercise, ice may be needed. And sore or not, you should give your body 48 – 72 hours to rest and properly recover before focusing on that part of your body again. If the soreness occurs each time you exercise, you may be pushing too hard. If you experience pain during exercise, you should stop immediately and seek medical attention if necessary.

Myth #13 – Taking vitamins and mineral supplements will give you more energy.

Truth: Vitamins and minerals do not have calories so they can not provide energy. Their role is to release energy from food.

Myth #14 – It isn’t necessary to warm up before exercising.

Truth: Warming up is an important component of exercise. It allows for needed physiologic changes that reduce the risk of injury. Examples are that it increases muscle temperature, improves blood flow, increases the elasticity of connective tissue, and prevents premature onset of blood lactic acid accumulation.

Myth #15 – Cooling down and stretching after exercise is a waste of time.

Truth: The cool down is at least as important as warming up. Some of the benefits are that it allows the heart rate to slowly decrease, prevents sudden pooling of blood in the veins, enhances muscle relaxation, and helps the range of motion.

Myth #16 – A fat-free diet is optimal for good health.

Truth: From purely a taste standpoint, yuck! What would you eat, fat-free animal crackers and water? Certain dietary fats are needed to function properly and to prevent symptoms of inflammatory problems, while others are necessary to carry fat soluble vitamins.

Myth #17 – If you build muscle and stop exercising, it will turn to fat.

Truth: This is often said because exercise helps build muscle tissue and reduces fat tissue. However, muscle and fat are two different tissues. They can not “turn” into one another.

Myth #18 – If you have fat and start exercising, it will turn to muscle.

Truth: See the truth to myth #17.

Myth #19 – All protein is the same.

Truth: There are actually three different types of protein. Whey is digested quickly and is therefore good for post-workouts to assist in recovery, casein is digested slowly so it is often taken before bed, and soy which is known for its isoflavones, is often used by those who are lactose-intolerant.

Myth #20 – If you didn’t exercise when you were younger, then it is too late now.

Truth: It is never too late to become an active person. As we age, exercise can help reduce the risk of bone and muscle diseases and also help enhance daily activities of life. Be sure to consult a doctor before starting any exercise program.

Many fitness and nutrition myths pervade the gym, media outlets, magazines, and the Internet. There are so many in fact, that this will be a three-part article, and still won’t address every one. When these myths are accepted as true, they could lead to injury, muscle imbalance, possible malnutrition, and are basically a waste of your time.

Myth #21 – If you aren’t sore after a workout, then you didn’t work hard.

Truth: Post workout soreness is not a measure of how good an exercise session was for you. The fitter you are at a certain activity, the less soreness you will experience after. But as soon as you change an exercise that you are used to, such as increasing the weight or doing more repetitions, the extra stress may cause soreness.

Myth #22 – Exercising during menopause causes more hot flashes.

Truth: Aerobic and resistance exercise are integral parts to being healthy. They help to prevent weight gain often associated with the changes that occur during menopause and to maintain bone mineral density. Expending energy does not cause hot flashes, however it might make you sweat.

Myth #23 – Most low-fat foods are low in calories.

Truth: Low-fat foods often have added carbohydrates and proteins to help with their taste and texture.

Myth #24 – Coffee and tea are the best to drink before exercising.

Truth: While some people may benefit from the caffeine that these drinks provide, others will experience increased urine production which can dehydrate them.

Myth #25 – If you can’t exercise for at least 30 straight minutes, don’t bother.

Truth: Exercising 30 minutes on most days of the week is recommended. However, the intensity of your exercise is often more important than the length of the activity. If you perform 2 – 15 minute or 3 – 10 minute high intensity activities, you will gain the same benefit of a 30 minute workout.

Myth #26 – Steroids are safe to use.

Truth: The side effects of steroids greatly outweigh any of the potential benefits. They include increased blood pressure, lowered HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol), liver cancer, sterility, testicle atrophy, breast and uterine shrinkage, and uncontrollable mood swings.

Myth #27 – Organic food is healthier than non-organic food.

Truth: Organic food refers to the way in which it is grown or processed. It does not mean that it has more nutrients than non-organic food.

Myth #28 – Vitamin supplements can replace a balanced diet.

Truth: Vitamins do not provide the phytochemicals, fiber, and other nutrients necessary to keep you healthy. Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep will help you be healthy. A vitamin supplement can be a part of your diet, but as a supplement, just like it’s named.

Myth #29 – Older adults should avoid resistance training because they could hurt themselves.

Truth: Resistance training in adults of all ages is one component of leading a healthy lifestyle. It helps older adults specifically by preventing falls, improving mobility, and allowing them to perform activities of daily living without assistance.

Myth #30 – A calorie is a calorie. They are all the same.

Truth: 100 calories of processed cookies has a significantly different nutritional value than 100 calories of chicken. It is better to eat nutrient dense foods like chicken, which provide just as its name suggests, more nutrients per calorie.

Bonus Myth – Muscle weighs more than fat.

Truth: A pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat. Ask yourself, which falls quicker to ground when dropped from the top of a skyscraper, a ton of feathers tied together or a ton of bricks tied together? Get it?

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About Author

From an early age, Sharon was encouraged to participate in competitive sports including soccer, basketball, track, softball, and volleyball. She has been an athlete and fitness enthusiast ever since. She explains that her parents instilled in her a level of self-confidence that has touched everything she does. See my profile page for more information!

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