Busted: Top 10 Fitness Myths
With influencers and self-proclaimed fitness experts sharing advice via social media and other channels, it is becoming difficult for the common man to distinguish fitness science from fiction. Several people fall prey to baseless and unscientific fitness (and nutrition) advice. While some advice does not work others are dangerous and create new problems rather than addressing the existing ones.
Let us look at and bust the top 10 Fitness Myths:
#1 Crunches can burn abdominal fat to reveal a 4/ 6/ 8 pack abs:
No! We cannot target an area where we need to lose fat. Spot reduction is impossible. Crunches target only the abdominal muscles which are a very small group of muscles as compared to big muscle groups of the legs and back. Targeting small muscle groups will not help much in losing fat as small muscles do not contribute much to increasing the Basal Metabolic Rate. Here is a blog analysing if Spot Reduction is possible: Is Spot Reduction possible?
Verdict: Crunches will strengthen and hypertrophy the abdominal muscles but will not help to burn the layer of fat over them. Target bigger muscles of the back and legs using exercises like unsupported deadlifts and squats to get a noticeable fat burn throughout the body.
#2 Women should not lift heavy weights else, they will develop huge muscles & look manly:
This is a classic fitness myth. To get the maximum of our exercise routine, we should lift the maximum of our capacity. Whether you are a female, male, or transgender, it does not matter. Due to lower levels of a hormone called testosterone in women, they are not capable of developing the muscle mass and strength of the level of men, even if they want to. Women who have taken up bodybuilding as a profession use steroids including synthetic testosterone. That is the reason they develop huge muscles and appear manly. Also, there are no gender-specific exercises as well. Here is a blog on women and exercising: What Body Toning?
Verdict: Women should lift as heavy as possible to get the maximum benefit from their exercise routine. Huge muscles and manly looks are not possible even if desirable by few women (unless of course, they want to take testosterone injections).
#3 All supplements are bad:
Supplements are meant to supply nutrients if we are unable to obtain the same from our diet alone. Understanding what we are deficient in requires an analysis of our diet. On a case basis, supplements may or may not be required. Supplements are never bad but, we need to figure out if we need them. Incorrect supplementation is bad. Here is a blog to understand if we need supplements: Are Supplements necessary?
Also, here is another blog to assess what level of supplementation we are on: What are the different types (levels) of Supplements for Fat Loss and Muscle Gain?
Verdict: All supplements are not bad. We need to plan for effective supplementation. Supplementation is about correct nutrition and is supposed to help with the nutrient deficiency in the diet.
#4 Sugar in fruits is good because it is natural:
Not at all! Sugar in any form is bad. It does not matter where it came from or whether it is natural/ man-made. Not everything in nature is good for us and not everything man-made is bad for us. All kinds of sugars have high glycemic values which spike insulin. Insulin spikes are linked to numerous lifestyle-related diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart trouble etc.
Verdict: Sugar in most fruits has a high glycemic value and is detrimental to our health.
#5 Sugar may be bad, but it is okay to consume jaggery, honey or other natural forms of sugar:
No! Jaggery and honey are sugars in different forms. Being natural does not mean being good for health. Jaggery, honey and other natural forms of sugars have notoriously high glycemic values which make them equally bad or sometimes even worse than sugar itself. Here is a blog to understand more about the hidden sugar in our daily foods: No Sugar, a lie!
Verdict: Jaggery, honey and other natural forms of sugars are bad for our health.
#6 Lifting weights at a young age leads to stunted growth or dwarfism:
There is no scientific evidence to support this claim. Lifting weights does not lead to stunted growth or dwarfism. Height is completely regulated by our genetics, and we cannot do anything about it. Naturally, we can neither increase nor decrease our height. There is no diet or exercise to even regulate the rate of height growth. Also, swimming, cycling, hanging from a bar etc. cannot increase our height. Here is a blog that scientifically analyses if we can increase our height: Can we increase our Height?
Verdict: Height is entirely governed by our genetics and we do not have any control over it. Lifting weights and stunted growth or dwarfism do not correlate.
#7 If we exercise, we can eat anything and not put on fat (and weight):
Not at all! When we exercise the muscle breaks down. Unless this muscular breakdown or micro trauma is repaired, muscles do not grow. Hypertrophy or muscle growth occurs as a matter of supercompensation of the muscle fibres which broke down during exercise. If we exercise, we need to put even more emphasis on our diet to ensure we get the required nutrition for repair and growth. Here is a blog explaining the process of muscle growth: How, when, why do Muscles Grow?
Verdict: If our diet is wrong we cannot correct it using exercise. One needs to put even more emphasis on the diet when exercising so that it results in muscle repair and growth.
#8 If you quit exercising, muscles will convert to fat:
Muscles are firm and have a shape. Fat does not have shape, will jiggle and wobble. Muscle and fat are very different. Muscle cannot turn into fat and fat cannot turn into muscle. Fat accumulates or burns. Muscles hypertrophy or atrophy. When people stop exercising it is natural for muscles to atrophy and fat to increase. This gives the impression that muscles are turning into fat. Here is a blog to understand more on the differences between muscle and fat: Fat Vs. Muscle.
Verdict: Whether exercising or not exercising, it is impossible for fat to turn into muscle and for the muscle to turn into fat.
#9 Sweat is the fat melting away:
No! Sweat is the body’s reaction to control the body temperature and fat has nothing to do with it. Fat does not melt away in the form of sweat. Contrary to popular belief, sweat is not fat crying. Here is a blog to understand more on sweating and dehydration: What is Dehydration?
Verdict: Sweat has nothing to do with fat. Fat cannot melt away in the form of sweat.
#10 Consuming baking soda can help burn fat and reduce weight:
Consuming baking soda has no health benefits including fat burn and can be dangerous to our health. Baking soda cannot help burn fat or lose weight. Here is a detailed blog analysing if baking soda can help burn fat or reduce weight: Baking Soda for Weight Loss?
Here is another interesting quick blog on techniques to get guaranteed fat burn: 5 tips for Guaranteed Fat Burn.
Hope the article helped us understand and bust the top 10 fitness myths.