You have surely heard some of them before – there is something special about them – they simply won’t go away. If you’re new to dieting, it’s easy to fall for the myths. Fitness myths can make achieving your goals next to impossible. How many of these do you still fall for? Lets dispel these myths together – spread the word!
Lets start off with our favorite and most debated topic.
“ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS CAUSE CANCER”
Aspartame, the most commonly used artificial sweetener, has been the subject to controversies ever since 1974! Aspartame is actually one of the most thoroughly tested and studied substance among all food additives.
The Dose Makes the Poison
We can conclude that aspartame is not dangerous in the doses consumed today. You would need to consume 4 liters (1 gallon) of diet soda a day to reach even potentially dangerous levels. Even this level is far below what is dangerous in animal studies, where animals have been given HUGE doses throughout their entire lives without consistent dangerous consequences. Instead is fearing aspartame, use it to replace refined sugar when you can as this is proven to cause weight loss and in turn reduce the risk heart disease and diabetes.
Refined Sugars Are Much Worse!
There is no doubt that the evidence shows that refined sugars are one of the leading causes of over-eating and therefore obesity. With obesity comes a whole slew of problems including diabetes, high blood pressure and various forms of cancer. Refined sugar has even been proven to affect health markers dangerously even when it doesn’t cause weight gain!
Water Over All, But Diet When You Have To
EBT always recommends water as the drink of choice, but in reality there are many occasions where you are choosing between regular soda and diet soda, and in those cases we recommend healthy people to go with DIET soda as the superior choice!
EFSA, ANS. Panel (EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food). Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation of aspartame (E 951) as a food additive. EFSA Journal, 2013, 11.12: 3496.
“AS LONG AS YOU EXERCISE ENOUGH, YOU CAN EAT WHATEVER YOU WANT”
Everyone Responds Differently to Exercise
The idea that you will lose weight simply because you start exercising is a common one, but the truth is that exercise alone is often not enough to cause weight loss. Burning 7000 calories should, on average, lead to losing 1 kg of fat, but this is in no way applicable to everyone. Different people respond differently to physical activity and some may lose 0.1 kg while others lose 2.3 kg for the same amount of exercise. Some people even gain weight!
Prioritize Your Diet
The fact is that you generally cannot out-exercise a bad diet. A good diet, however, combined with exercise is the best way to lose weight while maximizing your chances of keeping it off! Remember that exercise has many other health benefits even when it doesn’t lead to weight loss! Very few people (elite athletes, marathon runners) lose weight through exercise alone. So if your goal is to lose weight, you should first and foremost adjust your diet. There are two main ways to approach changing your diet depending on who you are. We talk about these in detail in our book Diet Like a Doctor.
1 Seabra AC. Effects of a 5-month football […] status and body composition of overweight boys. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2014 Aug;24 Suppl 1:10-6.
2 Cook CM. Physical activity and weight control: conflicting findings. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2011 Sep;14(5):419-24
3 Wilks DC. Objectively measured physical activity and fat mass in children: a bias-adjusted meta-analysis of prospective studies. PLoS One. 2011 Feb 23;6(2):e17205
4 Metcalf BS. Fatness leads to inactivity, but inactivity does not lead to fatness: a longitudinal study in children (EarlyBird 45). Arch Dis Child. 2011 Oct;96(10):942-7.
5 Luke A. Energy expenditure does not predict weight change in either Nigerian or African American women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jan;89(1):169-76.
“DRINKING PROTEIN DURING YOUR WORKOUT BOOSTS GAINS”
Those of you sipping on protein shakes during your workout are probably wasting your time. You are probably thinking that supplying amino acids should preserve muscle by reducing protein breakdown and stimulating protein synthesis (MPS). What you may not know, however, is that amino acids can only stimulate MPS for a short period of time…
Protein Synthesis Has a Upper Limit
When you ingest protein MPS will increase, and then stay at a certain level known as “muscle full” before declining again. Once “muscle full” is reached, more protein won’t help. This increase is dose dependent and having one large dose of protein (a “bolus dose”) has been proven to stimulate MPS more than having sipping small amounts of protein over a longer period of time.
One Large Amount of Protein is Better Than Many Small Amounts
Few studies have been done on this topic, unfortunately but a study on newborns shows that bolus protein is better and infusions. Though newborns aren’t bodybuilders, this study definitely says something about how our bodies react to protein intake. Have your protein in one go before your workout and focus on the workout at the gym instead!
If you want updates every month on how to optimize strength and muscle size using SCIENCE, check out MASS – the EBT certified journal on fitness science.
1 Bohé J. Latency and duration of stimulation of human muscle protein synthesis during continuous infusion of amino acids. J Physiol. 2001 Apr 15;532(Pt 2):575-9
2 Areta JL. Timing and distribution of protein ingestion during prolonged recovery from resistance exercise alters myofibrillar protein synthesis. J Physiol. 2013 May 1;591(Pt 9):2319-31
3 Davis TA. Bolus vs. continuous feeding to optimize anabolism in neonates. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2015 Jan;18(1):102-8.
“EATING MANY SMALLER MEALS PER DAY LEADS TO WEIGHT LOSS”
“What? Aren’t you eating six meals a day? That’s why you’re not making any progress, bro. Look at him, he’s huge, he knows what he’s talking about”
We can’t count the amount of times we’ve heard this one. People argue that eating several times a day boosts your metabolism and helps with weight loss. Fake news! Many well-conducted studies on eating frequency show that there is no difference in 24h energy expenditure when increasing meal frequency. Even if you’re in a caloric deficit, your weight loss is not affected by your meal frequency pattern. Your total daily caloric intake is what matters! This is consistently shown in studies, with the exception of one single study, which probably was different since people suck at reporting how much they actually eat.
Let’s Lock People in a Room and Control What They Eat!
The best way to actually know what people are eating is to lock them in a room called a metabolic chamber and track everything they eat. Crazy right, but this has been done! The study compared 3 meals to 14 meals over a period of 36 hours in a metabolic chamber and found no significant difference in total energy expenditure, but actually a small increase in resting energy expenditure in the 3 meal frequency group.
Do What Works With Your Lifestyle
High quality studies (reviews & meta-analyses) conclude that Increased meal frequency doesn’t enhance resting metabolic rate or total energy expenditure. Therefore it makes no difference for weight loss, body composition or burning fat. If your goal is to lose weight and you’re comfortable with just eating 2-3 meals per day, keep doing that! Based on the science, we believe this choice should solely be based on personal preference and tolerance.
1 Cameron JD et al. Increased meal frequency does not [….] prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet. Br J Nutr. 2010 Apr;103(8):1098-101.
2 Stote KSet al. A controlled trial of reduced meal frequency without caloric restriction in healthy, normal-weight, middle-aged adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Apr;85(4):981-8.
3 Ohkawara Ket al. Effects of increased meal frequency on fat oxidation and perceived hunger. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013 Feb;21(2):336-43.
4 Palmer MA et al. Association between eating frequency, weight, and health . Nutr Rev. (2009)
“IF WOMEN LIFT WEIGHTS, THEY WILL BECOME BULKY”
Too often we hear women expressing fears over lifting weights. Their main concern is usually that they’ll become big and bulky. For this reason, many women avoid resistance training in general and focus solely on cardiovascular training.
Women Have Less Muscle and Build it Slower
On average, 30% of a woman’s bodyweight is muscle, while men have around 40%. Women actually gain a bit more muscle, percentage-wise, initially, but the absolute amount of muscle gained is still higher in men. Also, women have a harder time gaining muscle long term compared to men (this long-term advantage is not as well proven as both women and men build muscle initially despite men having 1000 times more testosterone than women).
Weights Benefit You No Matter What Your Goal!
The few women who reach a level of muscularity that makes them look “bulky” are both genetically gifted and have been training very hard with the goal of acquiring this look.
Ladies, if that is your goal you should go for it! If that isn’t your goal, you should still hit the weights! Weight training will benefit your athletic performance, make you stronger, improve your figure and most importantly make you generally healthier and give you a longer life!
Weight training will also aid you in losing fat. If anything, 1 kg of extra fat will make you look bulkier than adding 1 kg of extra muscle. If your training happens to make you look “too bulky” as a woman, you need only reduce your training and your body will readapt with less muscle mass.
Drop The Fears And Steer Over To The Weights!
No, you won’t become big and bulky because you start weight training. Lifting weights is a great option to help you reach the body composition you want. The key to a tighter body isn’t burring off every inch of fat you have – it’s in creating a solid muscular base. Spending your valuable time at the treadmill for hours won’t help you with that. Drop the fears and steer over to the weights!
1 Janssen I et al. Skeletal muscle mass and distribution in 468 men and women aged 18-88 yr. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2000 Jul;89(1):81-8.
2 Kvorning T et al. The activity of satellite cells and myonuclei following 8 weeks of strength training in young men with suppressed testosterone levels. Acta Physiol (Oxf). 2015 Mar;213(3):676-87.