1. You Have to Eat Clean to Be In Shape
There is no such thing as ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ food. There is just food. Some foods have more key nutrients like protein, fiber, and vitamins & minerals, which make them more beneficial to your goals and harder to overeat. Some foods offer purely ‘empty calories’ in the form of simple carbohydrates and excess fats which make them less beneficial to your goals and easier to overeat. In my opinion, the best and most sustainable way to eat is “flexible dieting” where you eat mainly whole, nutrient dense foods but are able to treat yourself to less nutritious, more calorie dense foods sometimes.
2. Muscle Turns to Fat (And Vice Versa)
Muscle and fat are two separate entities. Both are natural and we all have some of each. Muscle is built from exercise along with increases in strength. Excess fat is the result of a caloric surplus. No one, not even the most ripped model or bodybuilder has no body fat. If you had no body fat you would die! Building up muscle with exercise is a healthy way for your body to increase its caloric requirements. If you were to stop the exercise, it is not possible for the muscle you’ve built to turn to fat. Likewise- if you had excess bodyfat and started working out, this fat could never turn into muscle. What will happen though, is you will burn body fat and build muscle simultaneously.
3. You Must Supplement (To Achieve Your Ideal Physique)
When used correctly, supplements can be helpful. Especially helpful is a supplement like protein powder which takes the place of other whole foods and adds to your daily protein intake. That being said- no supplement is necessary. Some are quite frankly almost useless. For example, BCAAs are completely unnecessary if you are getting enough protein throughout the day, and fat burners are completely null if you are still eating in a calorie surplus while taking them. For most people, supplements are not something worthwhile to delve into, especially with their high cost. If you are interested in some effective supplements- I recommend protein powder, creatine, and a caffeine supplement (caffeine is the main ingredient in pre-workouts and fat burners.)
4. You Can Spot Reduce
There is no such thing as spot reducing. If you have a gut you will not get rid of it by doing endless sit-ups. The only way to get rid of it is by decreasing your bodyweight with a calorie deficit achieved through diet and/or exercise. The same goes for any body part you want to decrease in size, whether it’s love handles, extra flab on the arms, face fat, etc. You must focus on decreasing your overall body fat- plain and simple!
5. Lifting Makes Women Bulky
Lifting will never make anyone bulky unintentionally. ‘Bulky’ women and men have manipulated their calories and training to an extreme extent to stimulate muscle growth and power (in addition to taking steroids, usually). Lifting weights along with a healthy diet will help women achieved the lean, toned figure they desire. Speaking of toning, another myth is-
6. To Get Toned, Do Cardio and High Reps
This may seem logical but this alone will only lead to two things: excess cardio will lead to your body adjusting its baseline calories to be lower and lower. Cardio is not a road to fat loss but a tool! High rep lifting will cause less muscle retention than low reps when aiming to ‘tone up.’ When your goal is toning you’ll want to maximize muscle retention with low reps. High reps (hypertrophy type work) has its place in muscle building (bulking) phases.
7. You Must Frequently Switch Up Workouts to Shock the Muscle
Doing multiple different exercises daily and weekly doesn’t allow you to properly overload the muscle. The best results actually come from sticking to the same lifts week after week and only switching every 3 to 4 months or so. This way- you can see how you are progressing and be sure you’re gaining muscle.
8. Eating Late Causes Fat Gain (Don’t eat carbs after 6:00, etc.)
There is no specific disadvantage to eating late at night. The reason this myth is perpetuated and may have a hint of validity is that often eating this late in done in excess of your planned daily meals and snacks causing you to exceed your daily caloric requirements and balance. That being said, if eating food at this time fits within your diet, then, by all means, eat it without worry.
9. You’ll Enter Starvation Mode if You Don’t Time Your Meals Right
The body is more malleable than we often give it credit for, especially your muscle. This myth centers around the body “eating away at muscle for energy” when you are hungry or when you haven’t eaten for a certain amount of time. In reality, our body works with whatever food we give it at whatever time. This is why I am a proponent of planning and tracking calories, especially on a weekly, as opposed to daily, basis. Research has shown that spacing protein feedings throughout the day (such as 3-5) is slightly more advantageous, but it’s nothing to get too concerned with.
10. Breakfast is The Most Important Meal of The Day
It sure can be if you choose! But- so can lunch, dinner, or a snack! The reason this myth exists is that oftentimes eating a healthy breakfast is a good way to jumpstart a nutritious day and keep one full so that he or she doesn’t gorge on food later in the day. That being said, there is nothing inherently special about breakfast. In fact- I’m a big proponent of fasting for fat loss which means not eating breakfast at all! The most important meal of the day is the one at which you choose to eat lots of nutritious foods. Maybe every meal is the most and equally important!