Myth #1 – Carbs Make You Fat
This one’s probably the most common. The main argument here is that carbohydrates spike insulin, and insulin stimulates the creation of body fat and inhibits the breakdown of fat cells. Now, this makes it sound like carbs are the bad guy, but while yes, insulin causes fat storage, it doesn’t make you fat. What does then? Overeating. It doesn’t matter how many carbohydrates you eat, or how high your insulin levels are throughout the day, you can’t change the first law of thermodynamics. Every meaningful weight loss study ultimately comes down to this: calories in vs. calories out. Enjoy your carbs, and fit them into your daily calories.
Myth #2 – Green Tea Burns Fat
Ah, if only we could sip our skinny tea all day long and stay lean and strong forever. Green tea isn’t what’s going to help you lose your gut, a calorie deficit will do that (along with a high protein diet to maintain muscle). Now don’t get me wrong, green tea has many health benefits, and it has been shown to help reduce abdominal fat because of the catechins in the tea, as well as increasing total daily energy expenditure, so it could help with weight loss in that way. Some health benefits of green tea include:
1. Improved insulin sensitivity
2. Fights off free radicals
3. Increased brain function
It’s nothing magical, but still worth drinking in my opinion.
Myth #3 – Eat Clean Get Lean
This one kind of goes with Myth #1, you don’t have to eat healthy to lose weight. Let’s look at Professor Mark Haub for example, who lost 27 pounds by following a convenience store diet of twinkies, Doritos, Chips, and even oreos. He simply made sure he was in a calorie deficit. Now, I wouldn’t exactly recommend doing this, considering you’ll most likely feel awful eating this way, not to mention being hungry nearly all the time because these higher calorie foods aren’t all that satiating. I’m all for eating nutritious foods to maintain long-term health, but it guarantees nothing in terms of losing weight, gaining muscle, or achieving your goals.
Myth #4 – High Reps for “Toning” and Low Reps for Getting Big
As mentioned before, lifting light weights for endless amounts of reps is basically a waste of time. Your goal as a natural weightlifter is to get stronger, but why? Isn’t getting a pump enough? Heck no. If that were the case everyone would be walking around completely jacked, shoulder pressing cars or something. Study upon study shows that progressive tension overload (that is, getting stronger), is the #1 proponent that drives muscle growth.
Lifting in extremely high rep ranges (15 to 20 or even more) to “bring out the cuts” is categorically false. Extremely low reps (1 to 3) are effective for gaining strength, but fail to create enough time under tension to gain the kind of muscle that we’re looking for. What we are looking for is somewhere in the middle, around 4-6 reps or 5-7. Once you hit the top of the rep range, add weight. Continue to do this, and you’ll gain muscle as long as you get your nutrition right.
Myth #5 – Cardio is necessary for fat loss
Okay, I may hate cardio, but I do believe it’s necessary for maintaining cardiovascular health. However, it’s not necessary when it comes to fat loss. Remember a calorie deficit is what drives fat loss, and while doing cardio can help you create a larger deficit (by increasing energy expenditure), it doesn’t guarantee any kind of weight loss. Let’s say you burn 600 calories from doing cardio, but afterwards you go and hit up Taco Bell for some burritos and cinnamon twists, which might total roughly 1,200 calories. Now, this isn’t a big deal if you just fit it into your total daily calorie and macronutrient intake, but the takeaway is this: cardio won’t drive fat loss, your diet will.
Take Home Message
There are of course a lot more myths out there, but I hope I have cleared up at least 5 of the myths you might have believed about fitness. If you did believe some of these, I don’t blame you. I made the same mistakes myself. Focus on learning and educating yourself (from credible websites), and you’ll be doing just fine. As always, stay strong.