fitness myths that won't die
Stop the cycle of lies

Quick preface here – I have an undergraduate and a master’s degree in exercise and sport science, as well as a training certification from the American College of Sports Medicine. I have well over six years of education in the field, in which I also held a perfect 4.0 in all coursework (*cough-brag*). I’ve been a co-author on two scholarly journals (here and here), and that’s to say nothing of the real life experience I’ve had. In other words, I’m qualified to write this article.

I’m sure some of you won’t care, and will still cling to these myths because they’re comfortable, and they’re a way to excuse certain choices. That’s fine. I’ve always seen my role as one to educate, rather than argue.

But it drives me bananas that these myths just won’t die. Many of them are cliches, and many of them hold half-truths, but these half-truths can cause damage when they’re left to interpretation by anyone uninitiated to the fitness industry. So if you have the heart for education, please help stop these myths in their tracks by clicking the “click to tweet” button below.

1. “Muscle weighs more than fat.”

Oh honey, no it doesn’t. In the last week I’ve seen quotes by two extremely well-qualified, well-known “fitness celebrities” to this effect. This is why the myth won’t die. The fact is, a pound of muscle weighs exactly the same as a pound of fat… it weighs one pound. The difference is that a pound of muscle is more dense than a pound of fat – it takes up less space. So as you gain muscle and lose fat, you can actually continue weighing the same amount (or even more), while your body becomes leaner.

Imagine you have a pound of feathers (contained in a bag) and a pound of bricks (probably the equivalent of one brick), for a total of two pounds. It’s going to take a big bag to hold a pound of feathers. But if you replace the pound of feathers with a second brick, you still have two total pounds, but it’s going to take up a whole lot less space than if you were trying to carry around a bag of feathers and a brick.

In other words, when you compare weight to weight, or pounds to pounds, muscle and fat weighs the same. If, however, you add the additional variable of volume to the mix, where you fill one bag with feathers and a second bag with bricks, the second bag, of course, will weigh more. Rather than saying “muscle weighs more than fat,” which can be misleading (trust me, I’ve had the conversations with the confused people), keep it accurate and say, “muscle is more dense than fat,” “muscle takes up less space than fat,” or even, “muscle by volume weighs more than fat by volume.” It’s not as catchy, but it doesn’t leave room for confusion.

2. “Carbs aren’t healthy, so I’m cutting them out.”

Really, you’re cutting them out? Are you still eating veggies? Or fruits? Beans or nuts? Maybe dairy products? All of these things contain high-quality, nutrient-rich carbohydrates. If you’re eating any of these things, you’re not cutting out all of your carbs. The body needs carbs to function. In fact, your brain consumes more carbs than the rest of your body – it craves ’em.

What your body doesn’t need are refined, nutrient-poor carbs, like chips, cookies, white bread (most bread), or any of the other “bad” foods most people think of when they hear “carb.” So rather than vilifying carbohydrates when you makeover your diet, clarify the statement by saying, “I’m eating fewer refined foods and more fruit and veggies” – the intent is the same, but the meaning so much more accurate.

3. “This squat challenge will give me the booty I want.”

Hmmmm… maybe? I’m not knocking monthly challenges, but those that focus on only one thing – squats, burpees, planks, whatever – may not get you where you wanna go. First of all, if it’s your only form of exercise, you might build muscle or gain strength in a certain area, but you probably won’t get the well-balanced workout routine that helps deliver lasting and noticeable results. And if you’re doing a million repetitions of a single exercise, you could end up with an overuse injury. No bueno.

That said, if your monthly challenge is incorporated into a well-balanced routine and doesn’t have you doing 1,129 squats a day, who knows? It might give you the exact lift you’re looking for. Proceed with cautious optimism.

4. “You need to stay in the ‘fat burning zone’ to lose fat.”

Ai-yai-yai – Cardio machines are to blame for this one. Let me try to explain why this just isn’t true.

Your body is always burning a combination of fats and carbohydrates. Because fat is a slow-burning, highly available resource, it’s the body’s preferred energy source for lower-intensity exercise. Carbohydrates, on the other hand, are a quick-burning, but limited fuel source. The body holds out on burning more carbs to help preserve them for higher intensity exercise.

When working at a lower intensity, you might be burning 5 total calories per minute – 4 from fats and 1 from carbs. (FYI, these numbers are made up.) Because you’re burning more total fat calories than carb calories, you’re in the “fat burning zone.”

If you pick up your pace and work harder, you’ll burn more calories – let’s say 7 total calories per minute. Because you’re working harder, your body starts relying more on carbohydrates for fuel, so you might be burning 5 calories from fats and 2 from carbs. But even though you’re burning more calories from carbs, you’re still in the “fat burning zone.”

If you pick up your intensity level again, you’ll burn even more calories – let’s say 11 calories per minute. Now, however, your body needs even more readily available fuel, so it starts burning 6 calories from carbs and 5 from fats. You’re now officially in the “carb burning zone.”

But even though you’re no longer in the “fat burning zone,” you’ll notice you’re burning more total calories, a good portion of which are still coming from fat sources. This will ultimately help you lose fat at a faster rate if that’s your goal.

5. “You’ll only see results if you get really sore.”

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is not unusual, and it can be a sign that you’re working hard and experiencing positive physical adaptations as your body recovers and repairs after a hard bout of exercise. That said, “getting sore” shouldn’t be the barometer by which you measure a workout’s effectiveness. Who wants to walk around sore all the time?! Not to mention, constantly placing too much stress on the body can lead to injury and burnout. Keep challenging yourself and trying new things, but don’t aim for “sore.” Instead, measure a workout’s effectiveness by the results you see over four, six, or eight weeks. Are you getting stronger or faster? Are you losing body fat and leaning out? Do you feel positive and happy after your workout? Is your flexibility improving? Do you want to keep doing the routine? All of these are signs you’ve found a high-quality workout.

6. “You have to take supplements to get results.”

I’m not knocking supplements – they can absolutely help deliver positive results. That said, they’re not absolutely required. You don’t have to drink a protein shake after every workout, or load up on every vitamin and mineral known to man to enjoy an energized life. If your diet is already delivering the nutrients you need, then you may not need to supplement at all. (Side note: most people aren’t consuming all the nutrients they need). If, however, you’re not consuming enough iron, calcium, protein, or any other key macro or micronutrient, then supplementation can be beneficial, or even necessary.

How do you know if you need a supplement? Try tracking your nutrition through a platform like MyFitnessPal for a week and take a look at how your nutrient intake adds up by the end of the week. If you’re persistently low on a particular nutrient, it’s worth adding a supplement.

If you’re pursuing a particular athletic goal, or you’re looking for supplements to help you recover, try talking to a sports nutritionist to determine which supplements might be a good fit. I always suggest talking to a nutritionist or coach who isn’t affiliated with a particular supplement brand before making a selection – they’re less likely to suggest unnecessary products, and can direct you to the brands they personally trust.

7. “Eggs will raise your cholesterol.”

Poor eggs, they’ve had a bad rap. Luckily, the USDA finally revised its nutrition guidelines to reflect what the building body of research has already proven: Dietary cholesterol doesn’t increase blood cholesterol in most individuals, and doesn’t increase the risk of heart disease.

The fact is, the body regulates its own cholesterol levels – roughly 75% of blood cholesterol is made by the body, and roughly 25% comes from food. If you take in more dietary cholesterol, your body makes less – if you take in less dietary cholesterol, your body makes more. Only 25% of the population experiences increases in blood cholesterol due to dietary intake, and even those who do aren’t at a greater risk of heart disease because both LDL (bad cholesterol) and HDL (good cholesterol) levels increase, keeping the ratio of bad to good cholesterol the same.

So go ahead and eat your eggs for breakfast… but if you have specific concerns, please do talk to your doctor and a registered dietician to make sure your nutrient intake is appropriate for your circumstances.

8. “I can’t run. I’m not built for running.”

Okay, it’s true that some people physically can’t run. Or physically can’t swim, or physically can’t… whatever. There are definitely scenarios in which a person shouldn’t try a specific activity due to injury or physical limitation.

That said, my guess is your, “I can’t run,” (or CrossFit or whatever) is actually closer to my claim that I can’t sing. Actually, I can sing, I just reserve it for those times when I’m alone in the car.

If you don’t like running, or you feel self conscious running, or you would rather do a different activity – great! Those are legitimate excuses, but for 99% of the population, claiming you “can’t” do something, or that you’re “not built” for something is just a cop out. Own your choices not to participate. There’s a big difference between “can’t” and “choose not to.”

9. “I’m juicing to de-toxify my body.”

No, actually your liver does that.

The body is a highly effective machine that knows how to clean itself. The problem is that you may make your body work on overdrive by constantly throwing crap in it, and as a result its ability to function at 100% is hindered. Juicing can be a highly effective way to “reset” yourself, re-initiate good habits and remind your body what it feels like to actually receive the nutrients it’s intended to have. It can make you feel amazing because you have the chance to work at 100% (or closer to it) rather than limping along on a partially-functioning motor.

Learn more about juicing from GGS Nutrition Guru and Registered Dietician, Serena Marie, R.D.

10. “This plate of spaghetti is my carb-load for tomorrow’s 5k.”

Sorry, but you don’t need to carb load for that. For short competitions, it’s really unnecessary to overdo the carbohydrate intake because your body has more than enough glycogen (readily-available fuel created from carbohydrates) stored in the muscles and liver to get you through the event, particularly if you follow  a high-quality nutrition plan.

But even if you’re racing or competing in a longer event, a night-before carb overload isn’t going to do you that much good. You need to carb load correctly to keep yourself from hitting “the wall” (glycogen depletion). Generally this consists of a slow reduction in carb consumption about one to two weeks before your event, followed by a significant increase in carbohydrate consumption in the two to three days before the event.

11. “Pregnant women shouldn’t push themselves during exercise.”

Don’t get me wrong, pregnant women need to be careful and aware of how their body’s changes can affect exercise, and they need to be upfront with their doctors about the activities they’re engaging in, but this doesn’t mean pregnant women should sit on the sidelines and twiddle their thumbs. Moms and pre-born babies need exercise!

As to the question of “pushing themselves,” pregnant women may find that a fitness regimen of a reduced intensity is actually every bit as intense as their pre-pregnancy workouts, especially as the pregnancy progresses. With additional weight to carry around, greater blood flow, and an altered center of gravity, lower intensity workouts can be tough! The most important thing for pregnant women to do is to listen to their bodies, make modifications when and where needed, and switch activities if one thing becomes uncomfortable. Just because pregnant women can run, doesn’t mean it’s an appropriate choice for everyone.

Above all, talk to your doctor about any risks or limitations that might affect your ability to exercise. If you’ve been given the all-clear, but you still feel nervous, sign up for a few sessions with a trainer certified in prenatal fitness. The peace of mind will be more than worth the money.

12. “I wish I were naturally thin like you – I bet you don’t have to workout at all.”

Ah, but you see, working out isn’t just about being thin. Working out is about being healthy, which means everyone should engage, regardless of body type, size, or composition. And just because someone looks thin on the outside doesn’t mean that person’s healthy on the inside. Unhealthy behaviors and diseases can lead to a thin-looking frame that’s actually quite sick on the inside.

Also, studies have shown that roughly 50% of individuals with a healthy BMI may actually have an unhealthy level of fat in their bodies. This is because basic weight and BMI measurements don’t provide any information about body composition, or the ratio of fat mass to fat free mass, so the measurements can be misleading. Individuals who exercise regularly are more likely to have a healthy body composition, and a healthy body composition plays a role in avoiding certain health complications and chronic diseases.

Long story short, everyone needs to exercise regularly. It’s good for you. And if you’re curious about your body composition, ask your local gym, doctor’s office or university if they do body composition testing. It can be an enlightening experience.

13. “Running’s not good for your body.”

Well, it’s certainly better than sitting on the couch. Yes, there are risks when you engage in any physical activity. And yes, there’s a chance of injury. And yes, there are horror stories out there about the things that can go wrong. Particularly when someone runs with poor form. But frankly, those risks are vastly outweighed by the rewards of maintaining a healthy and fit body.

As long as a runner (or CrossFitter, or swimmer, or triathlete) is maintaining balance, taking rest days, eating healthfully, using proper form, and appropriately managing risk of injury, there’s no reason she shouldn’t continue to pursue the sport she loves.

14. “I don’t eat healthy because I like food to taste good.”

I call foul! It may take a little while to wean yourself off the diet coke and bucket ‘o fries, but I guarantee you that if you keep trying nutrient-dense meals, and you keep experimenting with ways to prepare healthy dishes, you will find foods you love. Jamie Oliver is probably my favorite example of real food made delicious. Just take a look at some of his 15-minute meals – just straight up decadent, well-balanced and nutrient dense.

15. “I don’t have time to workout.”

No, you don’t want to workout. There’s a difference. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, most days of the week, but that can be split up into 3, 10-minute sessions. Or if you’d prefer, take the intensity up a notch and aim for just 3, 25 minute, high-intensity workouts per week. Or just 4, 20-minute high-intensity workouts per week. Or just 5, 15-minute high-intensity workouts per week.

High intensity interval training is incredibly effective, and it doesn’t take long at all to fit it into your day. If you’re telling me you can’t spare 15 minutes per day, 5 days a week, I’m going to call you a liar.

16. “You can’t out-supplement a bad diet.”

Wait… what? Yep, it’s a myth. Unfortunately, you can out-supplement a bad diet, but that doesn’t mean you should. One of my professors used to say that he could easily put together a regimen of supplements for athletes who ate nothing but crap all day, and they’d end up performing just as well. But kids, don’t try this at home. Just eat real, nutrient-dense food, and only supplement where necessary. Supplement companies can put whatever they want in those pills and powders because they’re a largely unregulated industry. I’d rather stick to food I know came out of the ground or direct from an animal… although you do still have to be careful about hormones and GMOs.

17. “I don’t eat bananas. They’re fattening.”

… or sub in “avocado,” “coconut,” or “nut butter” for bananas. There is no single food that’s responsible for fattening you up or slimming you down. It’s the sum total of everything you put in your body that does the dirty. And the idea that whole, all-natural, from-the-earth foods are somehow going to kill your results? It’s flabbergasting. Rather than obsessing about specific foods, vilifying food groups, or otherwise structuring your nutrition habits so tightly that you can’t enjoy a meal without stress, just focus on eating real foods without crazy additives or preservatives, with ingredients you can pronounce. Then moderate your servings. It’s about eating less and eating quality, not about specific foods.

18. “You’ll only see results if you lift.”

… or sub “run,” or “do barre,” for lift. Vilifying or exemplifying one method of exercise is the same trap as vilifying or exemplifying one method of eating. There is no one way to see results. (Insert your favorite cliche about skinning cats.)

Nor is there one type of routine that should be off-limits. Lifting = good. Running = good. HIIT = good. Dancing = good. Yoga = good. FYI, it’s all good. Some routines are better than others for attaining specific results, but if your goal is to get healthy and enjoy exercise, then nothing is off limits, and everything is golden. Find something you enjoy and pursue it wholeheartedly. Then mix in a little cross-training for good measure. The most important thing about fitness is making sure you’re fitting it in. Ignore the rule-makers, they just make fitness a chore.

This article was brought to you with awesome input and insight from the following Girls Gone Sporty Ambassadors – please go give them some love!

I know we didn’t get everything – which fitness myths do you wish would die?

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Comments

  1. fatslowtriathlete@gmail.com'

    Well said. #10 is a particular pet peeve of mine. I have found, though, that questioning these on my blog or on my podcast results in some serious backlash from the established athletic community. You know … the ones selling Isagenix. 🙂

    Reply
    • Laura Williams Post author

      Ha! I hear you. Seriously, it’s why these things take years and years and years to change. I’m glad so many people are interested in fitness and health, but simply working out, eating food, and taking supplements doesn’t automatically make you an expert in fitness, nutrition, or supplementation. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Luciepalka@gmail.com'

    Very good and informative article! I especially loved the one about he squat challenge! Also I liked the “I don’t have time to workout”. I used to think that but now that I’m busier than ever with a toddler and full time work, I workout at least 3 times a week!

    Reply
  3. jill.ciganek@gmail.com'

    Excellent! I’ve heard so many of these over the years. Especially from people who don’t work out that it must be nice to be naturally thin?! Um what? I work out and eat right consistently year after year and you can too!

    Reply
  4. ssmilek@sympatico.ca'

    Great article. Just double check your wording in part one ” add the additional variable of volume to the mix, where you fill one bag with a pound of feathers and a second bag with a pound of bricks, the second bag, of course, will weigh more. “. If you fill each bag with a pound, they’ll each weigh a pound.

    Reply
  5. dblred0728@hotmail.com'
    Tricia

    Great article with some great information really dug in deep to prove the myth wrong! Thank you!

    Reply
  6. thebeem9@hotmail.com'
    dbeeming

    The fitness myth that I wish would die is when anyone claims ladies shouldn’t lift big, because they’ll bulk out. I want to pull their eyes out of their sockets and release them back like slingshots, to SHOCK them, that IT’S JUST NOT TRUE!!! Omg. I’m surprised it’s not on your list. If you tell me I’m wrong…cover your eyes! lol

    Reply
    • Laura Williams Post author

      You’re so right! The only reason it’s not on my list is because I got tired. 🙂 Lots of the women who helped contribute to this article mentioned it, and I would have included, but after 2,500 words I was all written out.

      Ladies – lifting weights, and lifting heavy, can be incredibly good for your health on a lot of levels. Body composition improvements, bone density improvements, confidence, and more. How you put on muscle is very genetically-based, but as a general rule, women don’t have enough testosterone to “get bulky” like men. Instead, they’ll get leaner and more “toned.” During certain training programs greater muscle hypertrophy (growth) is possible, and even probable, but this growth won’t make you “look like a man.”

      Reply
  7. popgasmstreet@yahoo.com'

    muscle weighs more than fat. if you took a square inch of muscle and a square inch of fat, the muscle would weigh more because of its density. thus, muscle weighs more than fat. please remove number one off this list. its wrong.

    Reply
  8. Sue2bfit@msn.com'
    Sue D

    Fun reading. The muscle weighs more than fat is funny. To Nicole Bennings, you are comparing a size, not a weight. 1 lb is 1 lb, but yes, muscle is more dense, so a square inch of muscle will weigh more than a square inch of fat. It belongs on the list, but we need to compare the same metrics. I think its a clarification of size vs. weight.

    As a Physical Therapist, Certified Athletic Trainer, Exercise Physiologist and ACE certified Instructor with over 30 years of experience, including being an avid runner and competitive athlete myself for over 40 years, I would like to comment on the “not built for running.” I do agree that some people have an excuse for everything. Believe me, I hear it all day long from my patients (they are usually the non-exercisers who have aged to a point of deterioration and want a shot or a pill to fix it). However, I would argue that some gait types, body types or persons really should not run if they want healthy longevity for exercise.

    Think of someone with severe genu varum (bow legs), or a severe scoliosis, or severe degenerative disc disease or OA or DJD. Starting a running program with these conditions would place excessive load on joint surfaces, causing early degenerative changes and eventually debilitating pain. Even severely obese people should not start with running. Imagine the forces on their joints. Running increases impact forces to about 8x body weight. So, if a person weighs 350 lbs, this adds up to a whopping 2,800 lbs of impact with every step. Obese people also have a completely different gait pattern because of the sheer size of their limbs/thighs/hips/etc, making it difficult to propel their limbs forward at a rapid rate. A recent study on ambulatory loads in overweight and obese subjects indicated that cartilage thickness at the knee joint responds to loading during gait in a similar manner to OA patients. These findings suggest the possibility that increased weight initiates a pathway of cartilage degeneration prior to the emergence of OA symptoms. (The Impact of Obesity on the Muscoloskeletal System, International Journal of Obesity (2008) 32, 211–222; doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0803715; published online 11 September 2007)

    Biomechanics, foot strike pattern, joint conditions, age, weight, posture are all considerations as to whether someone should start running or opt for lower impact activities in their fitness and weight loss endeavors. High impact activities aren’t always the best option. I love running, but even I have opted for cross training and varying running surfaces to allow longevity for fitness and health over my love of running. I think we are all on the same page that people just need to move. The challenge is in finding an activity that people like enough to continue on a regular basis. Thanks again for a great summarizing article. I will definitely share!

    Reply
    • Laura Williams Post author

      Absolutely on all counts! 🙂 I was just using running as the example and there are of course reasons why some people shouldn’t engage in this type of activity. I so appreciate the additional & thorough explanation!

      Reply
    • eponine_13@hotmail.com'
      Melinda Ireland

      To compare weights, you necessarily need to use volume (what you’re calling “size”). If two items are the same volume, and one weighs more, THAT ITEM IS HEAVIER. This is true with muscle and fat. If you have the same VOLUME of fat and the same VOLUME of muscle, muscle is heavier; in the same way that if you have the same volume of feathers to volume of bricks, the bricks weigh more. It’s only silly people who turned “muscle weighs more than fat” into “pound for pound, muscle weighs more than fat” (which is obviously not true… pound for pound, everything weighs a pound.)

      Reply
  9. zaakakak@gmail.com'
    a

    Your body requires zero ca rbohydrates and makes 75 grams daily from ingested protein. And WOW, no scientific citations to back up any of this garbage? Not surprised

    Reply
    • Laura Williams Post author

      Oh, honey. The body doesn’t make carbohydrates from proteins. What you’re referring to is when the body makes glucose from proteins and fats when it’s not receiving enough from carbohydrate ingestion during a process called gluconeogenesis. The body, especially the brain, kidneys and other major organs, desperately need glucose to function. Generally the body receives glucose during the break down of carbohydrate. When carbs aren’t available, the body will break down other macronutrients and/or tissues to get the glucose it needs to continue to function. While short periods of this type of fueling might be okay, it’s not an optimal way to function, and you’d be hard-pressed to find many registered dieticians or sports nutritionists to back up the practice for very long. And if you do elect to cut out all carbs, just think of all the nutrient-dense foods you’d be cutting out – fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc. A diet filled ONLY with proteins and fats won’t provide you with the wide range of vitamins and minterals you need to function properly. I

      Reply
  10. palebluemote@gmail.com'
    Harry

    Jfc. Of course a pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat. This is a stupid rebuttal. When people comment on the relative weights of fat and muscle, they are talking about VOLUME. Literally nobody in existence has ever claimed that there is a difference between equal weights. The focus is and has always been about the difference in volume for each. Write an article called “18 stupidest/most pointless things people say about getting healthy” and stick this one in there. You are not as clever as you think you sound.

    Reply
  11. Pingback: Link Love: 2/28 - Cowgirl Runs

  12. constructingcarrie@gmail.com'

    Why, oh why, does the BMI measure still exist as any sort of indicator?? It seems ignorant for medical or other health/wellness professionals to use it as any type of legitimate measure! I understand it’s usefulness (and probable higher accuracy) in an age of people not working out as a way of life, but muscles are a thing now… :-/ If I went off of that, I would be skating the border of obesity (I’m far from it!) *sigh*

    Reply
    • Laura Williams Post author

      I couldn’t agree more! And I think most medical professionals would agree as well, but I suppose it’s easier and faster to measure as a general guideline than body composition, and it’s ever so slightly more accurate than weight alone (although not by much). My brother’s an ER doctor and he hates it because as a former football player, he’s always been considered “obese” by BMI. And trust me, he is not obese. And it can be inaccurate on both sides of the spectrum – for those who are “normal” weight and for those who are overweight or obese. It’s really a very poor predictor of internal health.

      Reply
  13. megannmcc@aol.com'

    I found this post through Link Love, and I cannot tell you how much I adore it, although, I will try since I’m a fellow blogger and writing is what we do.

    Amen to the banana business. Anytime we declare whole foods from mother nature bad, it makes me bat shit crazy. The quality and quantity of the foods you consume will have an impact. Not a single solitary banana.

    I always found the muscle weighs more than fat myth funny. It’s like what color was George Washington’s white horse? Surely people realize it’s a trick question.

    The poor, poor egg. I think chickens should file a lawsuit for slander. They’ve got grounds. I’d even go a step further and say eliminating the yolk and essentially all the nutrients, is the equivalent of drinking diet coke. It’s not going to satisfy you in the long run which means you’ll end up consuming more calories in other ways as a result.

    I’d love to go on and on about the other myths but I’ve got laundry to rotate. The life of a domestic goddess is relenting, I tell you. 😉 Thanks for the great post, and happy Sunday.

    Reply
    • Laura Williams Post author

      “I think chickens should file a lawsuit for slander.” That’s awesome. 🙂 I’d sit in that courtroom.

      Thanks so much for your amazing support!

      Reply
  14. singsthemagpie@gmail.com'

    Don’t forget the “this many calories per day” myth. People are all different and need a different set of calories to operate/lose/maintain/not murder their significant others.

    Reply
    • Laura Williams Post author

      Ah, yes. The last one’s particularly important. I’m the queen of “hangry” – just ask my husband!

      And you couldn’t be more right about the issue of calorie intake. I always laugh because when I hear “girls should eat 1200 to 1600 calories a day” I’m like, “I’m a freakin’ 6’0″ woman. My basal metabolic rate based on height alone has me burning almost 1600 calories a day. If I ate 1200 calories a day, I’d die. As in quite literally, given enough time. You crazy.”

      To anyone else reading the comments, if you want to know how many calories a day you should intake per day, there are online calculators that can help you (http://nutritiondata.self.com/tools/calories-burned). That said, these are still ESTIMATES and don’t take your actual body composition into account, which can make a big difference. If you want a more accurate assessment, contact your local university’s exercise science department and ask if they do BMR testing. Based on your BMR, and exercise physiologist or trainer can help you determine a more accurate estimate of how many calories you should take in to help you reach your goals.

      Reply
  15. alicen@formerfitnessflunky.com'

    I love this post! These myths all need to DIE!!! It’s such a shame that these often repeated words of “wisdom” only serve to misinform the public. At best it may confuse people and at worst you have #5 – the good old no pain, no gain which may actually cause serious harm. As pros I think we just have to keep fighting this stuff whenever we can.

    Reply
  16. eponine_13@hotmail.com'
    Melinda

    #1 has a misleading title. The myth is “a pound of muscle weighs more than a pound of fat”, which of course is false (a pound being a pound, and all). What the heading of the myth says is “muscle weighs more than fat”. This is true, not a myth. If you have the same volume of fat and the same volume of muscle, the muscle will weigh more, because it’s more dense. Ergo, muscle weighs more, cubic inch by cubic inch. Using your own analogy, if you had the same volume of feathers and bricks (i.e. the same sized bag), the bricks would undoubtedly weigh more. Of course, as you say, if you’re going for a POUND of feathers and a POUND of bricks the bags would be vastly different sizes but would still weigh a pound.

    Otherwise, great article.

    Reply
  17. mjajam@cox.net'
    Martin J

    Someone else already pointed this out. But starting an article with no understanding of density doesn’t exactly make the rest of the article credible. ( a pound is a pound) This article is… well partially true, while oversimplifying the issues.

    Reply
    • mjajam@cox.net'
      Martin J

      My apologies, I skimmed through it too fast. And stand correct. She explains herself further in that paragraph. Bottom line, if you do weights, you will probably not gain weight, but will change your body composition, which is what you want. Eventually though, if you are taking in enough calories, your body weight will increase from an increase in lean body mass. It causes a lot of people to think they are not making gains in the gym, because they keep looking at the scale, with no numeric representation of body composition (% fat, % water, % muscle).

      Reply
    • Martin, this comment makes me wonder if you actually read the article. I have a complete understanding of density, as explained in the first section. What I’m pointing out, and what you’re actually failing to acknowledge, is that while differences in density might seem like a, “duh” statement to you and me, it’s actually not as obvious to everyone. My point is that health professionals need to be particularly careful with wording and language because what seems obvious to us may not be obvious to others, and that then leads to misunderstandings and misrepresentations. Had I NOT had extensive conversations with people who insisted that a pound of muscle weighed more than a pound of fat, this wouldn’t have made my list, but I HAVE had those conversations, and not with ignorant individuals – just with people confused about fitness myths. That’s why I say to be more careful about how this is phrased – to say “based on volume” or “based on density” muscle weighs more than fat. This removes the confusion.

      Reply
  18. Nappybum2@gmail.com'
    Stephanie G.

    Which myths do I wish would die?

    ALL of them.

    But one in particular. ‘When you stop going to the gym / etc, all your muscle will turn into fat.”

    For such a seemingly educated day and age we live in today, we are incredibly stupid.

    Reply
  19. teena.sherlin@icloud.com'
    Teena

    This is such a great article! I’ve recently started to change my lifestyle to be healthier. Not thinner but healthier. I do not want the focus to be on “losing weight.” I have already heard several of these things from people with whom I’ve had a discussion. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    Reply
  20. josha@krustrengthandfitness.com'

    I LOL’d on a couple of these. It is amazing what people will believe on the internet. Thanks for putting together a list!

    Reply

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