Exercise and weight loss myths have been around forever, and many people still hold onto them as truth when in fact it is just the opposite. While some myths have some small amounts of truth behind them, overall they are inaccurate explanations as to what works. Here are 5 exercise and weight loss myths that need to be reexamined.
“Too much cardio will burn up muscle.”
This is false, and there are so many things wrong with this statement. First, what constitutes “too much”? It’s a strong generalization without an exact number, but this isn’t the only problem. You need to consider that the people who do too much cardio hardly ever do any weight training to begin with. For example, many long distance runners shy away from any resistance or weight training. They are just flat out runners. Well, the fact is that without weight lifting, ANYONE would lose muscle mass- not just people who do lots of cardio.
Secondly, so much of this statement (if it even were partially true) would come down to what the person’s diet was. For example, if someone’s calories are low or they are starving themselves, then yes extra activity would cause them to eat up some muscle mass for energy. However, this isn’t the case for most people. Most people like to eat and have plenty of calories to fuel their bodies. When they go to run or do their cardio, their bodies will have ample amounts of energy to utilize before resorting to muscle consumption for energy.
Now, can cardio make the muscles appear “flat” or “thin” instead of “pumped” and “massive”? Perhaps yes, but this is just appearance in response to the type of exercise post-workout due to water and glycogen depletion without the blood pump into the muscles weightlifting results in.
Also along the lines of appearances, many bodybuilder types often mistake fat mass with lean mass. In other words, they are so obsessed with “size” that they think being big means they are carrying muscle when in fact they are misidentifying the fat they’re carrying on their bodies as lean muscle. Cardio training will burn up plenty of body fat, and many bodybuilders think that makes them appear “smaller” since they lose the body fat they mistake for muscle mass on their bodies.
Such a statement also depends on if the muscle was naturally gained or artificially gained. Drug enhanced bodies have more difficulty hanging on to their muscle gains compared with muscle that is naturally put on the body. So as you can see, this myth is not true in the majority of circumstances.
“Eating 6 meals a day every 2-3 hours helps you lose weight and burn fat better.”
This is a classic myth. Think about it. So what they’re saying is that you can basically eat any kinds of foods that you want and you will lose more weight and body fat. If they’re not saying that, they are saying that eating the right types of foods every 2-3 hours for 6 meals a day is the trick, but this is equally not the case. The reason why is that any weight loss or body fat loss ultimately comes down to the relative basic amounts of calories you consume on a daily basis versus how many calories you expend. For example, if you eat 6 meals a day every 2-3 hours, even if it’s the healthy food, and your total calories for the day exceed the total calories you expend, you are not going to lose any more weight than you would if you ate 3 meals a day and arrived at the same total calories. Say, for instance, you ate 6 meals a day at 300 calories each that totaled 1800 calories- it would make no difference if you ate 3 meals a day of 600 calories and arrived at the same total amount.
The whole aim they are going for with this myth is to try to prevent you from overeating as people who go long periods of time without a meal tend to eat a ton of calories at a time since they are craving food and starving, but every 2-3 hours? It’s a little overhyped to say the least. You can eat 2 meals a day of 900 calories or 6 meals at 300 calories. It wouldn’t make a difference. The only difference would be your overall health and making sure you had enough protein if you ate leaner, healthy foods and wanted to build muscle. 1800 calories is just a general estimate. Each individual person and their bodies require a specific unique amount of calories each day and each individual person exercises at different rates and intensities.
Also, eating 6 meals a day may actually work counter to what they intend as it encourages people to keep eating, and the more often you eat per day, the more likely you will exceed your limit and store fat or gain weight. To keep things more to the point, a better recommendation is to eat 4 well balanced meals every 4 hours on average and make sure you exercise at least 3 days a week for an hour or more. Five days a week for an hour or more is better yet.
“Cutting out your carbohydrates is the best way to lose weight.”
Wrong. This is the worst way to lose weight besides starving yourself all together. The simple reason why is because your body will burn up muscle mass due to the lack of carbohydrates for energy use, and because this diet is not sustainable in the long run (it’s not even healthy to begin with), once you go off of this kind of diet, you will actually put on more weight and body fat than you had on your body before you started it. This is because muscle mass helps you to burn fat by increasing your resting metabolism. Once the muscle has deteriorated, your body’s biological metabolic rate also has diminished, and now you’ll have an even tougher time burning calories than before you began it.
This is the worst because not only is it not true, it discourages many people from trying and giving it their all and making the adjustments and changes necessary to live healthier.
Let’s begin with the lack of truth. Anyone who abides by the recommended health guidelines that are true and have been scientifically proven to work is going to see and feel improvements on whatever goal it is they are trying for. For example, anyone who switches their diet from one high in sugars, saturated fat, fried foods, desserts, and snacks to one based on green leafy vegetables, a variety of vegetables and fruits, only the lowest glycemic index increasing carbs (wheat and grains), and only lean fish and meat (chicken or turkey) are going to immediately lose ample amounts of weight and begin to look and feel better.
If they, in addition, begin to exercise correctly, training with weights at least 3-4 days a week on an expert program and also do their cardiovascular exercise likewise for at least 3-4 days per week, then they will see their body transform, especially with the healthy diet conversion. So it’s not really genetic- it’s actually based on sciences like nutrition, exercise science, kinesiology, and the biology of bodybuilding.
It also requires discipline too, but that is also not genetic. Some people work harder than others-it has nothing to do with genetics. Everyone has a certain potential they can reach, but each of these potentials would be deemed and considered “great shape” and “healthier.”
“Take 2 days off each week to gain better results.”
While this myth has its’ benefits, particularly allowing the body to fully recover so it can come back 100% fresh and strong afterward, it is not necessarily true. You have to consider the goals the person is trying to reach (as with any advice), but still, in most cases it’s debunked. To start with, this would apply best to sports athletes who really do put the pedal to the metal every day and have an actual event or game coming up where they need the body to be fully fresh. So in that case, you’re talking about football, basketball, baseball, soccer, boxing, and other such sports athletes, which most weightlifters and exercisers are not, at least competitively or professionally. No, most times you’re dealing with people who just want to lose weight, build muscle, tone up the body, lose fat and inches, and look better. More than five days a week might not be better for most people (only because of convenience purposes- most people have a life and responsibilities outside of the gym and working out), but the fact is that the more calories you put out, or expend, throughout a week, the more weight and body fat you’ll burn off. An additional two days of working out per week can only help this cause.
In addition, there are enough muscle groups on the body for weightlifters that they can design a weekly schedule where they allow all muscle groups at least the required 3 days rest to heal and still lift every day of the week. If they don’t want to lift every day of the week (I wouldn’t blame them), the other day or two can be spent doing cardio, yoga, hiking, walking, or playing a competitive sport to shave off extra fat calories. If you ever feel the need, like you really need to take a day off because your body is telling you you’re depleted or exhausted, then you probably should, but it doesn’t mean that most of the time your body wouldn’t be able to handle 7 days a week of training and also get better and faster results as a result. In fact, if you had the time and ability to train rigorously 7 days a week, you’d change your body much faster.
One immediate noticeable benefit compared to the myth is that rather than if you had 48-72 hours of rest brought about by the day off, the 2 extra days of training would result in your metabolism experiencing the benefits of exercise every single day. Rather than slowing down for two days, on those two days it will still be high and elevated from your workouts so you’re getting 7+ consecutive days of post-workout metabolic rate increases, which are one of the keys to triggering more rapid body fat loss. That alone would make body fat storage and weight gaining that much harder for your body to do, which can only be looked at as a good thing for most people.