Common Myths in Exercise And Nutrition Debunking The Nonsense
Taking on a new exercise and nutrition routine can feel very daunting. It can feel even more daunting when you begin to realize just how much information there is. Not to mention, there is even more refuting information about that other information. If you’re scratching your head, you’re not alone. Today, social media and technology have reached such an influential stage that science and legitimate fact have taken a backseat to fad and image. There are many claims made by very unqualified individuals that are not factually, scientifically, or even rationally accurate. As a full-time Exercise Physiologist, it is my job to help my patients and clients see past the haze of nonsense and to have greater confidence in fact, not shiny fiction. Here are some popular myths in today’s world of exercise and nutrition, and the actual facts that debunk them.
1. Women who lift weights will get bulky, men who do cardio will get scrawny
- This is a two-part myth that highlights the differing opinions amongst genders towards types of training
- Of course, this is not always the case, but more times than not, women want to slim down, and men want to build
- These goals are completely rational and healthy
- However, the approach and the mindset of this two-part myth is not
- Women who lift weights will put on muscle
- However, they will also increase metabolism, decrease fat mass, and increase strength
- Bulking up will not occur in most cases because women have a substantially lower level of testosterone
- More times than not, lifting will help tone and shrink the circumference of most concern regions (arms, butt, stomach, etc.)
- Men who do cardio will not always lose muscle mass
- Excessive amounts of cardio with low levels of protein consumption and poor recovery can lead to decreased muscle size and strength
- However, interval training can help build type II muscle fibers, which are large and powerful
- Occasional long-distance cardio helps break up intense training while increasing recovery
- Summary: Women will not bulk without excess calories or added testosterone, men will not shrink when cardio is planned well and is appropriate for goals
2. Juice cleanses and detoxes really work
- When we juice cleanse, the anticipation is that we are sending so many micronutrients into our system that we increase our bodies removal capacity
- Not only is this logically wrong, but physiologically makes little sense either
- Our liver is the most amazing removal system in the world
- Daily, our liver works like an efficient machine to remove waste from protein breakdown, red blood cell exchange of nutrients and waste, and more, while also increasing absorption of nutrients throughout the body
- No to mention, even after a liver procedure, the liver’s regenerative abilities allow it to restore to full functionality quite rapidly
- Juice cleanses do absolutely nothing to improve our cleansing system
- Realistically, the breakdown of all of these whole foods into juices reduces the micronutrient content and fiber content, creating a useless blend of sugar.
- Anyone who tells you drinking sugar water is cleansing, probably should not be giving advice
- Summary: The liver and cleansing system in our body is not aided by cleanses. Stick to whole food nutrition that is high in micronutrients, and do this daily!
3. Eating too much protein is harmful to your bones and kidneys
- This topic has been debated highly for quite some time now
- The research is in, and once again, the science wins the debunking battle
- Even on diets where individuals consume 3 grams/kg of body weight in protein, there were no acute or long term negative health effects
- Those who have a preexisting kidney condition should speak to their doctor about a proper nutrition plan and approach to protein
- Summary: If you work out and train regularly, protein is absolutely essential for muscle growth and recovery (up to a gram/pound of body weight)
- Talk to your doctor and a registered dietician about your nutrition approach if you have a preexisting kidney disease
4. Eating high-fat diets make you burn more fat
- This one is a classic case of taking a glaringly obvious statement and turning it into a mantra
- If I usually fill my car with regular gas, and one day decide to bump up to premium, saying that my car burns more premium gas now is an obvious statement
- The same applies to high-fat diets
- Diets such as Keto and Atkins claim that you burn more fat on their plan
- This is true…BECAUSE YOU ARE EATING MORE FAT!
- Realistically, the best way to burn fat is to create a caloric deficit through nutrition and exercise intervention.
- Eating a high-fat diet to burn more fat is not a good reason to begin a plan such as this
- Summary: Choosing a nutrition plan needs to be based on blood work, medical history, activity factor, and many other factors
- Do not take on Keto because a social media post says too, or a friend or family member succeeded on the plan.
- It may work for them, but can be very inappropriate, even unhealthy for you
5. Eggs are bad for you
- I have to admit, even I was on the egg bashing bandwagon for a while there. However, the research has proven definitively that eggs and healthy sources of cholesterol are quite good for you.
- Research has also shown that nutrition-based cholesterol has little effect on blood cholesterol levels
- Healthy cholesterol consumption from sources such as olive oil, avocado, and eggs can actually increase HDL cholesterol, improving your cholesterol profile
- Summary: If you do not have preexisting cholesterol issues, then eggs and other healthy fats should be integrated into your nutrition plan.