Here we are in early 2019 and once again, I am going to cover some health and fitness aspects that are more myth than fact. We all have been given advice on what to do when working out or heard a few things that seemed a bit off regarding fitness. Now let’s cut through a few of these myths.
• I like to start out each year out with this ridiculous mantra of the ill-informed, “No pain, no gain.” Your body does not nor should it feel pain as a sign of fitness gains. Being a little sore and stiff after a workout is one thing, but pushing yourself to a point where you can hardly function the next day after an exercise is damaging to your health. I still have hardcore athletes argue with me about this even though it’s a commonsense point. Exceeding your comfort zone is great, pushing your limits to injury is just plain dumb.
• Exercise can help you lose weight and improve specific areas of your body composition. This is another incorrect exercise fact that many people buy into regarding exercising to enhance a particular area of your body. I am pretty sure many of you have already found that developing six-pack abs without changing your diet had poor results. Seventy percent of your body composition is defined by the foods you eat. If you want to change your body composition, try going to a ketogenic food program and then bust out a vigorous core program and watch your abdominals magically appear.
• Working out on an empty stomach or in a fasted state is terrible for you. I love talking about these types of long-standing myths. For years, I too thought working out without at least downing some protein was bad for your workout. The truth is and research supports that exercise during a fasted state triggers many benefits for your body. If you think about how we humans evolved, it makes sense. When we were hunters and gatherers, we chased down our food often on an empty stomach. Our bodies kick in various hormones that promote muscle development and in fact shifts the body to burn fat, not muscle since our strength and endurance was key to our survival.
• I have listed this myth in the past. Lifting weights are not healthy for children. Experts now agree that lifting moderate weights with proper form and technique is essential for a child to develop great bone density into the future. In fact, lifting weights as a person of youth improved bone density over their lifetime. An added bonus is muscle density reinforcing a young musculoskeletal system can help prevent injuries and more muscle density can help fight childhood obesity.
• Doing lots of cardio is the best way to increase your metabolism. This belief been around for a while and is very much a myth. This idea that pumping up the heart so much you’re overworking your cardiovascular system resulting in a higher metabolism will burn more calories and fat is misleading. Yes, more cardio will burn more calories, but fat burning through high levels of cardio is not practical. Lean muscle density developed with weight training and periodic high-intensity intermittent exercise will do more for fat burning then miles upon miles of cardio on the road or treadmill.
• Go fat-free and avoid eating fat to help lose unwanted inches and be healthier. Okay, this one is one of the worst myths some can follow. Our body needs good fat. Most people have become carbohydrate burning machines, but we are designed to burn fat supplies for our energy needs. We store fat because it is a body fuel that can sustain us through many aspects of our active lives. Remember fat is in all the cells in our body, even our brain is about sixty percent fat. Our daily survival and overall health needs essential fatty acids that our bodies can’t make. Fat plays a crucial role in regulating hormones, body temperature, immune function, and nutrient absorption. It is just as important to understand the difference between good fats and bad fats. Reduce certain saturated fats and replace them with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Going fat-free is not a good idea.
• Eat immediately after your workout and make sure you have lots of protein. Here is another myth that may not make the grade as an absolute fact. There are many programs out there that place emphasis on nutrient timing. This popular idea of downing post workout macros such as protein and carbohydrate to maximize muscle development and repair may not work like you may think. Now the whole muscle anabolism and catabolism regulated pathways and their interaction with glycogen and protein synthesis is a deep dive into the science around the post-workout nutritional “window of opportunity” theory. Studies are finding you may get more from a small pre-workout carbohydrate uptake and wait two hours for your post-workout protein plunge.
Regardless of the areas within health and fitness, these ideas are steeped in myth, conjectured and misleading marketing tactics that can be harmful. If it sounds too easy or too good to be true, it is likely just another myth.
Judd Jones is a Certified Primal Health Coach and Fitness Consultant. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.jhanawellness.com.