Top 5 Health & Fitness Myths

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 and supersets are excellent examples.

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 can 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. If you are largely sedentary, and consuming surplus calories, the weight you gain will be fat.

If however, you are active and following a well planned training program (weight training), eating surplus calories will more likely lead to muscle gain. Which is a good thing.

Myth # 3

You Can Sculpt Your Muscles

This one is actually true. The common understanding of attaining the sculpted look people covet, is having good muscle development with low body fat. This makes it easier to see the shape of the muscles. 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, Emily Blunt, or physique models.

To achieve this look, you need to choose activities that condition your muscles while making you stronger and burning fat. These activities are strength training, with weights, and some form of cardio. The cardio can be in the form of steady state cardio, high intensity interval training (HIIT), or circuit training. The strength training will make the muscles stronger and more firm. While the cardio will help burn excess fat. When done correctly, the end result is that desirable, firm, sculpted look. Rather than the flat or deflated look, often seen on people who eat too little calories, and do cardio only.

This is best achieved in phases, to allow for adequate recovery, avoid burnout, and potential overuse injuries.

You also need to be following a good nutritional plan. This means eating adequate protein. Roughly 1 gram per pound of lean body mass. Plenty of fruits and vegetables. Plus carbs and fat appropriate to your goals, be it fat loss, muscle building, or maintenance.

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 limit junk food, as it contains high calories with very little nutritional value. It’s also very easy to take in hundreds of extra calories more than you have burned, if you are snacking on sugary, processed, junk food. 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 your current weight and body composition (muscle:fat), you need to focus on maintenance (taking in the roughly 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 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 the majority of 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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