Myth # 1
Only Do Cardio If You Want To Get Lean
Cardio as your only form of exercise is excellent…if you want to be skinny fat! What’s “skinny fat”? A person who is skinny fat looks slim, but they have no muscle tone and are soft and squishy to touch, like a marshmallow.
Focusing on long cardio sessions whether they are on a treadmill, elliptical machine or running outdoors will help you to lose weight initially. But if this is your only form of exercise you will be losing fat and muscle. You will end up looking like a smaller version of yourself now, but be soft and squishy. Especially if you’re not eating properly.
To avoid this you want to include some form of resistance training to help build lean muscle, and focus on higher intensity. This way your training becomes strength-cardio. Building nice lean muscle while burning fat at the same time. Circuit training is an excellent example.
Myth # 2
Eating Fat Makes You Fat
No, eating too much fat, good or bad, makes you fat. Eating too much carbohydrate will also make you gain fat. You know what else will make you fat? Eating too much protein. That’s right, even precious protein needed for building and maintaining firm lean muscles and a healthy youthful face!
The point is eating too much will make you fat, regardless of whether it’s a healthy food or an unhealthy food. If you are consuming more calories than you are burning you will gain weight. This can be in the form of muscle if you’re doing some form of resistance training and aiming to add muscle, or it can be fat if you are sedentary.
Myth # 3
You Can Sculpt Your Muscles
This one is actually true. The common understanding is that the sculpted look people covet is lean muscle with low body fat. This makes it easier to see the shape of the muscle. This is basically correct, but the less known part of this look has to do with ‘muscle density’. How firm your muscles are depends on how strong they are. Ladies, don’t freak out, ’strong’ muscles don’t necessarily mean ‘big’ muscles – think Jessica Beil or Emily Blunt.
To achieve this look you need to choose activities that condition your muscles while making you stronger and burning fat, such as resistance training and high intensity interval training (HIIT). The resistance training will make the muscles firm while the HIIT will help burn unwanted excess fat. Resulting in that desirable firm, sculpted look rather than the flat or deflated look often seen on people who do eat too little calories and do cardio only.
You also need to be following a good nutritional plan and eating adequate protein, roughly 1 gram per pound of lean body mass.
Myth # 4
You Can Eat What You Like As Long As You Exercise
Noooope! Unless you are ok with never reaching your goals of being lean and firm rather than soft and squishy. If you’re trying to drop some lbs or burn unwanted fat, exercising and proper nutrition go hand in hand.
When weight loss is the goal you need to be in a calorie deficit (consuming less than you burn). To do this it’s best to avoid junk food as it contains high calories with very little nutritional value and you can very easily take in 100’s of extra calories more than you have burned. Excess calories = weight/fat gain!
If you do a tough workout and then stop by the drive-thru on the way home or gorge on pizza and ice cream to “refuel”, you’re not going to see any significant positive results. These foods are easy to eat in large quantities and are very high calorie.
As mentioned above, for weight loss, you need to create a calorie deficit (burn more than you eat) through diet. You can then create a further deficit through exercise.
If you wish to gain muscle you need a calorie surplus. Again, this needs to be well planned and controlled as it’s very easy to overshoot your calorie requirements if you’re eating take-aways and sugary foods.
If you are happy with you current weight and body composition (muscle:fat) you need to focus on maintenance (taking in the same amount of calories as you burn). In each case you need to focus on calories in vs calories out…
Myth # 5
It Doesn’t Matter What You Eat As Long As Long As It Adds Up To The Same Number Of Calories
Again, noope! If longterm health is your goal, calorie quality is just as important as calorie quantity. Meaning the majority of your calories should come from good quality, natural, whole foods. Processed, man-made junk food should be kept to a minimum.
This applies regardless of your goals (fat loss, muscle gain or maintenance). Whole foods contain the nutrients we require to be healthy. Junk food, as the name implies, is junk. It can be delicious, but it is loaded with sugars, damaged fats, trans fats, and chemicals. Junk food also tends to be low in protein, and very low in fibre.
The result of getting your calories from junk food? Vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Increase in potential illnesses (heart disease, diabetes, cancer etc.).
Aim to get the majority of your calories from nutrient dense whole foods such as:
Lean meats, fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats.
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