Fitness and Nutrition: Facts vs. Myths

Debunk the biggest fitness and nutrition myths, and find out where you can get the training and nutrition coaching you need in Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY.

Paul Hunter

It’s time we separate fact from fiction, sift through the bad statistics and outright lies, and get down to the truth. The public does have a general awareness of nutrition and fitness, but much of what we think we know simply is not true. 

The people who produce, sell, and promote food want you to buy their products. Fitness gurus want you to think you can get shredded in a week so you’ll pay for their services. Diet gurus want you to believe that they have the secret to shedding pounds. So they all lie about what’s good for you. They tell you to eat the wrong things, give you bogus workout tips, and trick you into cutting out the wrong nutrients. The public buys into it–hook, line, and sinker, without question.

What you’re about to read will be counterintuitive. It won’t make sense to you, but that’s because of our food and fitness culture and the way we approach these subjects. We don’t scrounge up studies. We learn through word of mouth and accept what we hear. To most, this is a social construct, not a science. Keep that in mind when you’re going through this list. 

Food Myth #1: The Horrors of Gluten

Every decade or so another guru emerges from the bowels of the dieting community declaring that they’ve discovered a secret: If you cut one specific nutrient out of your diet, you can be skinny again. First, it was fat, then sugar, then carbs. Now everyone is going gluten-free. 

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It does absolutely nothing to increase your weight. You won’t drop a single pound if you cut it out, but many people are avoiding it because they believe they have some type of sensitivity. Others are misled into believing they have an unrelated condition known as celiac disease, which affects less than 1% of the population

It’s mostly hypochondria–admittedly with the potential for a few reactions. But the majority of people who consider themselves gluten-sensitive do not meet the diagnostic criteria, and even those numbers are murky because there’s no way to test for it

Food Myth #2: Eat Less Carbs to Lose Weight

Carbs do not cause weight gain, and yes that is an earth-shattering revelation for many of you reading this. The entire world has been counting carbs for more than 25 years. But there’s nothing inherently special about them that causes fat to pile up.

In fact, carbohydrates are a necessary nutrient, required to fuel the body and the mind, and studies show that cutting them out of the diet completely can lead to serious complications. They’re also the body’s main source of energy, and they can be integral in providing you with the boost you need when working out. 

Some carbs–specifically refined wheat, white rice, and other so-called simple carbohydrates–can cause cravings, which in turn leads to overeating. If you binge, you will increase your caloric intake. Like all foods carbs have calories. Dietitians suggest sticking with complex carbohydrates instead. This includes whole grains and legumes, like lentils and beans. 

Food Myth #3: You Should Avoid All Fat if You’re Trying to Lose Weight

Like carbohydrates, fats aren’t inherently capable of making you fat. That doesn’t sound right, but the fat stored in the body and the fat we consume are completely different. The problem is the caloric intake. Eating too much fat will make it harder for your body to burn it off, causing you to store it. But going without it can cause complications. 

That doesn’t mean you should eat more fat. In fact, fat is the most calorie-dense macronutrient of them all. Certain fats, including trans fats and saturated fats can raise cholesterol and increase your risk of certain conditions like heart disease. Trans fats have no nutritional value and should be avoided altogether. So-called good fats like monounsaturated fats found in olive oil and canola oil can have the opposite effect. They help lower cholesterol and your risk of disease. 

Fitness Myth #1: You Can Target Fat Burn

There’s a common misconception in the community that you can target where you burn fat by working out specific regions. This is called spot reduction, and there’s very little scientific evidence to support it. Considering how easy it would be to test that hypothesis, we can safely say that it is in fact a myth. The nutrients the body expends on physical activity can come from anywhere. 

Fitness Myth #2: Long Workouts Are the Only Effective Workouts

We tend to see physical activity as an uphill climb. The idea is that you need to push through, keep going, and don’t stop because if you do, your entire workout will be a waste. That just does not make sense. It’s like saying you have to drive 100 miles if you want your car to expend gas. We all know that’s not true. Instead, try to strive for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity workout every week, and don’t worry if you have to space it out. 

Fitness Myth #3: Avoid Weights Unless You Want to Bulk Up

It is possible to build strong muscles with weight training, push-ups, and other types of traditional muscle-building activities–especially if they’re performed on a regular basis–but that won’t turn you into an Arnold Schwarzenneger clone. For that you need specific genes and an intense strength training regime.

You Can Rely on PhysioRX for Solid Training and Professional Guidance

There’s nothing worse than having to ride solo, relying on nothing more than your own instincts–nobody to help you when you fall. We want to be there. We’ll show you the way with nutrition coaching and personalized training services. You don’t have to do this alone. Reach out to us online and we’ll work with you to create a plan tailored to fit your needs. 

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