David is a writer and an avid fitness enthusiast who gained a muscular physique through resistance training.
Many myths surrounding weight loss and building muscle exist in the world today. Some of those myths are more prevalent than others. Society has gained a better understanding of diet and fitness in the last century because of scientific advances, case studies, trial-and-error, and thorough research. However, the massive amount of information can cause confusion in some individuals. A lot of misconceptions were born out of all that information in the last century.
When I was younger, I used to think that I would lose muscle if I did not eat and consume protein every few hours. I had that fear due to my anxiety disorder, but it was also because of the myths about health and fitness that I believed in.
Some companies prey on the insecurities and fears of others. They want to sell you their weight loss or muscle-building products, therefore, they may twist the truth to give you an incentive to purchase. While some products may be useful for weight loss or building muscle, many of them are either snake oil or mediocre products. When it comes to weight loss and becoming stronger, there's no substitute for hard work, applied knowledge, and a good diet.
Fat Loss and Muscle Building Myths
Here, I have compiled a list of 15 frequently-claimed statements about fat loss and muscle gain.
1. Huge Amounts of Protein Are Required To Build Muscle
While protein is important for either maintaining or building new muscle tissue, more is not always better. Excess protein will either be stored as body fat or utilized as energy. The RDA recommends consuming at least 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, but that's for sedentary individuals who don't exercise or have a physically demanding job. If you're highly active and are trying to build muscle and strength, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight on a daily basis.
Make sure to eat protein from good sources of food like nuts, eggs, low-fat milk, and lean meats. Whey protein powders can be useful if you are short on time, but they are not absolutely necessary. The type of protein you're consuming each week is often more important than simply consuming superfluous amounts of it.
2. Sugar Is the Main Cause of Weight Gain
Sugar is often demonized in society. Some people see it as some evil monster that automatically contributes to weight gain and unhealthiness. Of course, it's understandable why sugar has such a bad reputation. A lot of snacks and junk foods contain a lot of added sugars. Excess sugar from poor food choices is the main issue. A caloric surplus and sedentary lifestyle is the main reason why people gain fat. Exorbitant amounts of sugar are simply making it easier for people to overeat and go well beyond their maintenance level of calories.
Most of your sugar should be coming from natural sources of food like fruit. Fruit contains many essential vitamins. It is also a high-volume food that allows you to eat more of it without getting as many calories.
3. Eating Before Bed Causes Fat Gain
Some people believe that eating a meal or snack before bedtime will cause weight gain because they're not active enough to burn the calories off. The total amount of calories you eat per week determines whether you gain, maintain, or lose body fat. Personally, I like to eat some food before bed, as it's easier to go to sleep.
4. High Repetitions Tone Muscles
The belief that higher reps make your muscles more toned when exercising is a very common myth. Muscle can be gained in a variety of rep ranges. Toning muscles is a result of shedding body fat and gaining enough muscle to have shape. A lower body fat will give your muscles more definition. There is nothing magical about high reps when it comes to toning your muscles, albeit, they may burn slightly more calories if volume is high enough.
5. Low Reps Don't Build Muscle
Lifting heavy weights with low reps can build both muscle and strength. As long as overall volume is sufficient while applying progressive overload, lower reps can produce hypertrophy. One reason why this myth exists is because some lifters have poor form. They lift heavy weights with momentum and poor range of motion. Maintain good control when lifting heavy weights in the lower rep range to obtain good results.
6. Building Muscle Is a Linear Process
The amount of muscle you gain is dependent on numerous factors such as your age, genetics, diet, and exercise program. The total amount of muscle you gain per month or per year won't always remain the same. Novices can gain more muscle because they're new to training and don't have a strength base. Someone who is very experienced with a lot of muscle and strength may only gain a couple of pounds of muscle in one year. It's not uncommon for a new weight lifter to gain 10 pounds of muscle in a year, but that progress will not last forever or remain linear.
7. Spot Reduction
It's not possible to spot reduced body fat in specific areas of the body. While it's possible to increase the muscle mass of a specific body part with isolation exercises, fat loss occurs in a calorie deficit. For example, doing bicep and tricep exercises will not make your arms lose fat, but you'll gain muscle when resistance is added.
8. Sweating Causes More Fat Loss
Sweating is important because it helps cool our body, boosts our immune system, and helps our skin filter out toxins. Some people think they'll lose more body fat if they wear a sweatshirt (or similar heavy clothing) when working out. Sweating may cause weight loss, but it will be water weight, not fat loss. Additionally, a lot of that weight loss will be temporary. Truth be told, it's dangerous to workout in hot and humid weather when wearing too much clothing, for it could cause heat exhaustion or fainting.
9. Starving Yourself Is Good for Rapid Weight Loss
Being in a calorie deficit is the key to weight loss, but dropping your calories too low is potentially dangerous. While you may lose fat quicker by starving yourself, it's not healthy in the long term. Losing fat rapidly can cause fatigue, dizziness, constipation, muscle loss, and hair loss. For men, it may cause problems with maintaining an erection. For women, it can lead to menstrual irregularities.
Ideally, you want to consume 300-600 calories less than your maintenance caloric intake each day. A severe caloric deficit over a long period of time is too dangerous. The end does not always justify the means. Be patient and consistent.
10. Water Directly Causes Fat Loss
Drinking water helps keep us hydrated, particularly in hot and humid climates. The water we drink can fuel our workouts and improve cognitive function, but it does not directly cause fat loss. Replacing sugary drinks with water is a healthy choice. Simply drinking more water won't make you lose fat, but it may prevent you from overeating, particularly if you drink it before a meal.
11. Low-Fat Foods Are Always a Healthy Choice
Just because a food label says it's lower in fat does not mean it's a healthy choice. Check the nutrition facts because some foods are low in fat, but have a lot of added sugars that contain many calories. For example, some peanut butter brands offer low-fat content, but the amount of calories per serving is still high because the amount of carbohydrates is high.
12. Muscle Weighs More Than Fat
Muscle is more dense than fat, but it does not weigh more than fat. A pound of muscle and a pound of fat weigh the same. Muscle takes up less volume of space, though. A person who is 200 lbs with muscle will look dramatically different than a 200 lb person that is mostly fat. Body fat percentage will significantly impact your appearance.
13. Soreness Indicates Progress in the Gym
A popular misconception is that muscle soreness indicates that one had a good workout. Getting sore from your exercise routines does not always mean you're going to gain muscle and strength. In some cases, it can be an indication that you're targeting the appropriate muscle groups.
Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a type of muscle pain that usually occurs around 24-48 hours after training. The pain varies, but the muscles may hurt and feel tender to touch. DOMS can cause stiffness and fatigue, and temporarily reduce range of motion.
Most novices or people that have returned to training with weights will experience it. Lack of soreness does not mean you had a bad workout. Your body adapts to training stimulus and volume over time. Some people don't experience much muscle soreness once their body has adapted to their exercise regime.
14. Training Muscles To Failure Gets Better Results
Pushing your muscles to the limit when lifting weights or doing other physically demanding exercises is not necessary for results. Training your muscles to failure too often can actually hinder your results. It's also dangerous to perform a barbell squat or bench press to complete failure without a spotter or some type of safety catch that prevents you from becoming stuck underneath the barbell.
The best way to make strength and muscle gains is by progressively adding more reps or weight over time. Save a few reps in reserve to prevent injury or fatigue. Training your muscles to failure is a good way to challenge yourself, but it's not mandatory.
15. Lifting Weights Make Women Bulky
Unless a woman takes performance-enhancing drugs, she will not get bulky from resistance training. Women do not have the same genetic makeup or testosterone levels to build the same level of muscle mass like a man. Working out will provide women with strength and instill confidence in them. They will see improved definition in their physique if they lift weights with the proper diet.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 David Patrick