20 May Your muscle won’t turn into fat- Fitness Myths That Are Holding You Back
These fitness myths might be holding you back if you believe them.
This article is going to debunk a bunch of common fitness myths that don’t help you do the right things when it comes to getting the body you want.
I’ve broken the fitness myths up into 3 sections:
- Fitness myths about your training
- Fitness myths about your nutrition
- Fitness myths about your metabolism
I hope that after reading this, you won’t fall for these fitness myths again and will have a better idea of what you need to do in order to change your body.
Fitness Myths Busted- TRAINING
MYTH: Heavy weights will make you bulky.
TRUTH: Lifting heavy weights is the best way to get lean.
Lifting heavy weights will not make you bulky, especially if you’re female.
Testosterone is one of the main hormones involved in muscle growth, and women simply don’t have as much of this as men do.
Muscle growth is hard. It takes months to years of following a structured training program, performing the exercises in that program correctly and progressively overloading, in order to grow a significant amount of muscle.
If you start weight training and feel like your pants are tighter, then its because you’re eating too much food and gaining fat.
You might be gaining some muscle, but this takes up less room than fat does, so it will actually make you tighter, not bulky.
MYTH: The burn you feel in your muscles is fat burning.
TRUTH: You can’t feel fat being burnt.
Even if you feel like your fat is burning from a particular area, it’s not actually fat being burnt.
When your muscles can’t get enough oxygen to make energy, they produce lactic acid instead.
It’s the build up of lactic acid which results in that burning sensation.
One of the most common mistakes I see people making is doing ab exercises to lose their belly fat.
You cannot spot reduce fat. Doing certain exercises to lose fat from that area won’t work.
If you want to lose your belly fat, read this.
MYTH: The more sweaty you get the more fat you’ll burn.
TRUTH: You don’t need to do cardio in order to lose fat.
Sweat is simply a mechanism your body uses to keep its temperature stable.
It has no association with fat burning and isn’t a sign that your workout has been effective.
If you’re working out to sweat, you’re probably not getting the most out of your time in the gym- especially if fat loss or muscle gain is the goal.
Note: If you sweat a lot during a workout and notice that your weight goes down, it just means you’ve lost water. It’s not fat.
MYTH: Sore muscles indicate you’ve had a good workout.
TRUTH: You don’t need to feel sore after a workout in order for it to have been effective.
Muscle soreness can indicate that you haven’t used those muscles for a long time (or at all).
You’ll also be more sore after a workout that includes lots of eccentrically loaded exercises, or when you’ve increased the intensity or volume.
Muscle soreness doesn’t indicate that your workout was effective.
In fact, too much soreness can be a bad thing as it impacts your performance in your future workouts, which could impact your results.
Some soreness is normal but you want to make sure you’re balancing your training volume with enough recovery time so that you can get the most out of your workouts.
MYTH: You need to do cardio for fat loss.
TRUTH: You only need a calorie deficit for fat loss.
If you don’t like doing cardio, you don’t need to.
Cardio will impact your recovery and performance with your weight training so be mindful of this if you do decide to do it.
MYTH: Weight training converts fat to muscle.
TRUTH: Your body can’t turn fat into muscle.
There are a number of biochemical reactions that take place in order for fat to be broken down in the body, or for muscle to be synthesised.
Fat doesn’t simply turn into muscle from weight training- this is impossible.
Your body can use fat for energy but in order to make muscle it needs to be getting adequate protein from your diet.
Muscle tissue is made up of amino acids which are comprised of the elements Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen and Nitrogen.
Fat is made up of triglycerides which are comprised of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen, but not Nitrogen.
There’s no pathway in the body that converts triglycerides into amino acids to synthesise new muscle. That’s why its essential to get enough protein in your diet if you want to build muscle.
MYTH: Your muscles turn into fat if you don’t use them.
TRUTH: Your body can’t turn muscle into fat.
Your muscles don’t turn into fat from lack of use.
If you stop using them, they atrophy and the area may feel softer but it’s not because it has turned into fat.
Fat and muscle are separate tissues and one doesn’t simply become the other.
MYTH: Fasted cardio burns more fat.
TRUTH: It doesn’t really matter whether you do cardio fasted or fed.
It is true that your body will tend to use fatty acids as fuel over carbohydrates when doing aerobic activity in a fasted state.
But this doesn’t mean that you’ll lose more fat overall.
That one hour or so you may spend on the treadmill is only a small percentage of your day. If you’re still eating too much food, it doesn’t matter if you burn more fat during that one hour period or not, overall you won’t lose weight.
If you enjoy fasted cardio, or if it suits your lifestyle better, do that.
If you would rather eat something beforehand, it won’t make a difference to your fat loss attempts so long as you’re controlling your food intake over the course of the day.
To find out how much food you need to eat for fat loss, read this.
MYTH: Working out 6 days a week is better than 3 days.
TRUTH: It depends on your lifestyle and experience!
If you’re an advanced lifter, then 3 days a week might not be enough time to get all the training volume you need to stimulate your muscles enough to grow.
If you’re a beginner or even intermediate lifter, 3 days can be enough.
If you’re super busy and don’t have time to get to the gym 6 days a week, you’re better off doing 3 good workouts consistently each week, than trying to do more and becoming inconsistent (skipping workouts or doing them half-assed).
When it comes to high frequency training, you want to make sure your training split is spread out in a way that allows each muscle group to recovery properly, whilst also stimulating the muscles enough throughout the week (more than once a week is better for muscle growth).
MYTH: For best results, your workouts should last for an hour or more.
TRUTH: It’s not about time, it’s about effort in that time.
For best results, you need to train with enough effort.
If you can workout for more than an hour, you probably haven’t been pushing yourself hard enough.
You likely could have used a heavier weight or have done a harder exercise.
Unless you’re a powerlifter and need to be taking 5+ minutes of rest between sets, 30-60 minutes is plenty of time to have an effective workout.
Fitness Myths Busted- NUTRITION
MYTH: Too many carbs will make you fat.
TRUTH: No food on its own will make you fat.
Eating too much food for your daily energy needs will make you fat.
This doesn’t happen overnight.
It happens from weeks and months of giving your body too much energy in the form of food. The energy has to go somewhere.
If it can’t be used, it’s stored as fat.
When it comes to fat loss, you need to make sure you’re eating less energy than your body needs so then it has to use the stored energy (your body fat) for fuel.
Carbs are not essential for the body but they are optimal, especially if you want to be happy, build muscle/ strength and sleep well. And they won’t make you fat so you can enjoy them guilt free!
MYTH: Fat will make you fat.
TRUTH: Fat does not make you fat.
I won’t repeat myself apart from this: no food on its own will make you fat!
Fat is more likely to be stored as fat than what carbs or protein are.
However, you still have to be eating too much food for this to happen.
Unlike carbs, fat is essential for the body so you want to make sure you’re eating enough.
To learn how much you need, read this.
MYTH: Insulin makes you fat.
TRUTH: Insulin is a storage hormone, not a fat producing one.
Insulin is a storage hormone. But it doesn’t make you fat.
Insulin allows fat to be stored in cells, but you have to be eating more energy than you need to actually gain fat.
Insulin also allows carbohydrate to be stored as glycogen in your muscle and liver, and is involved in muscle growth.
There are so many myths around insulin, one being that carbs are bad because they increase insulin.
It’s not just sugar and carbs that cause insulin to rise. It’s released in response to amino acids so that there’s a stimulus for protein synthesis after a meal. Your nervous system also modulates insulin secretion.
This article here explains insulin really well if you want more info.
MYTH: Detox diets will help flush toxins from your body.
TRUTH: If a snake bites you, you wouldn’t drink a juice to get rid of the toxins from it’s venom.
Your body is always removing toxins.
The skin, the lungs, the kidneys and your liver, all help to remove unwanted particles on a daily basis.
Say you get bitten by a snake and you really need to detoxify your body- you need to go to hospital.
If you had to wait until you drank some detox juice to clean your insides, you’d likely be dead already.
You don’t need juice cleanses and detox teas. They don’t help you lose fat.
Yes, you might lose weight if you drink juice for a week, but weight loss and fat loss are not the same thing. You’ll likely gain the weight back as soon as you go back to eating normally.
Instead of worrying about detoxing your body, make sure you’re eating enough of the nutrients you need to be healthy by reading this.
MYTH: Apple cider vinegar will help you burn stubborn fat.
TRUTH: You probably don’t have to worry about stubborn fat yet.
Stubborn fat is stubborn because certain fat cells in the body are easier to mobilise fatty acids out of than others.
In order for fat to be used for energy by the body, it must first be mobilised out of the cell it’s stored in.
If you are eating in a calorie deficit, the body will take the fat from the cells where fat is easily available first. It will take it from the “stubborn” cells last.
To lose stubborn fat, you have to first lose fat from all over your body.
Stubborn fat is only really an issue if you’re already lean.
Otherwise, a calorie deficit is all you need.
If a calorie deficit isn’t working for you, read this to help troubleshoot what might be going on.
MYTH: Sugar is bad for you.
TRUTH: Anything can be bad for you in the wrong quantity.
Eating a diet that is 80% whole foods and 20% whatever else, is what I recommend to my online coaching clients.
Many of them come to me scared to eat sugar and certain foods.
However, this just creates a poor relationship with food.
When you see food as good or bad, you’re more likely to binge or overeat the bad foods when you can’t control your emotions. Or, you’ll feel guilty after eating something rather than just enjoying the moment.
Stop seeing food as good or bad, healthy or unhealthy. It’s not helping you.
Unless you’re diabetic, and given you eat nutritious food most of the time, a little bit of sugar won’t hurt you.
MYTH: Eating more protein will give you bigger muscles.
TRUTH: You have to do a lot more that eat enough protein to build muscle.
Yes protein is necessary to ensure you have the amino acids required to build muscle tissue, but unless you’re also providing a stimulus to the muscle to grow, it won’t.
To grow muscle, you should be following a structured training program and focusing on progressive overload.
Even then, muscle growth is slow.
Eating extra protein won’t speed this up and it definitely won’t cause your muscles to get big.
If you need to create a structured weight training program to build muscle, this might help you, .
MYTH: Brown rice is better for you than white rice.
TRUTH: It depends!
There is an argument for and against both brown rice and white rice.
For example, brown rice contains anti-nutrients which can prevent the absorption of other nutrients by the body. It’s also more difficult to digest. If you have a leaky gut or some kind of digestive issue, then white rice could be better for you.
Overall, eat what you like the taste of better and what makes you feel good after eating it.
Both have similar calories. As long as you can fit it into your calorie needs, it doesn’t matter which one you choose.
This applies for most foods. There is a good and bad side to anything, and what is “better” for you will depend on a number of factors.
MYTH: Eating clean is the key for weight loss.
TRUTH: Clean eating could be detrimental for weight loss.
If your diet is so restrictive that you only allow yourself to eat “clean” foods, you create a need to binge or overeat “treat” foods when you’ve had a bad day or when you can’t handle your cravings.
For weight loss, you need to be eating in a calorie deficit.
It doesn’t matter how clean you eat, if you’re eating too much food you won’t lose weight.
The most important things for weight loss are discussed here.
MYTH: Supplements are the key for fat loss.
TRUTH: Supplements may assist in fat loss but are not necessary.
You can take all the supplements you want- if you’re eating too much food, you won’t lose fat.
Supplements like protein powder can help you get more protein in your diet and assist with fat loss that way.
But you don’t need supplements for fat loss and most of them are a waste of money.
To learn more about what supplements might benefit you, whether your goal is fat loss or muscle gain, you can check this article out here.
Fitness Myths Busted- METABOLISM
MYTH: Your metabolism speeds up when you have more muscle.
TRUTH: Muscle only burns a tiny bit more energy than fat.
Your metabolism increases when your weight increases- whether that’s from fat or muscle.
It simply costs more energy to run a bigger body that a smaller one.
If you gain fat, your metabolism will increase, and if you gain muscle it will increase.
The benefit of gaining muscle and not fat should be obvious.
Muscle is denser than fat, so it takes up less space for the same amount of weight.
Yes a pound of fat and a pound of muscle weigh the same.
A person with more muscle on them may look leaner, even if they weigh the same as someone who has less muscle (but more fat).
Bottom line, building muscle will help you look better and will help you increase your energy requirements.
But it isn’t because muscle burns a lot more energy than fat.
A muscle cell only burns a tiny bit more energy than a fat cell. It’s not a significant enough difference to increase your energy needs by that much if you just replace muscle with fat without gaining weight.
MYTH: Lemon water will help kickstart your metabolism.
TRUTH: Lemon water will help you damage the enamel on your teeth.
It won’t do anything to help your metabolism because your metabolism is always running.
It doesn’t need kickstarting in the morning.
No food or drink will “boost” it enough to cause a significant increase in fat burning leading to faster fat loss.
MYTH: Eating 6 meals a day will help to speed up your metabolism.
TRUTH: Eating more frequently could be making you fat.
It costs energy to digest and absorb the food you eat, but it’s such a small component of your total daily energy expenditure that eating more frequently won’t make much of a difference to your overall energy needs, or your rate of fat loss.
If you like eating 6 meals a day you can do that and lose fat, as long as you are eating in a calorie deficit.
Sometimes, eating many small meals that don’t fill you up properly is worse for fat loss because you end up in a state where you always want more food or are constantly thinking about when you can have another snack.
I’ve dealt with countless clients who get stressed from having to think about what to eat all the time and don’t have time for eating so frequently.
If this is you, eating 2-3 larger meals that fill you up, can help you avoid the need to snack or think about food. This can help you stick within your calorie requirements more easily too.
MYTH: Not eating enough will damage your metabolism.
TRUTH: You can’t damage your metabolism.
Not eating enough will cause your metabolism to adapt to the smaller amount of food you’re eating.
This isn’t permanent and you can build your metabolism back up to where your true total daily energy expenditure should be based on your body weight and activity level.
If you want to learn more about doing this, read my article on reverse dieting here.
MYTH: You need to eat breakfast to boost your metabolism.
TRUTH: Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day.
You don’t need to eat anything in the morning if you don’t want to.
Breakfast won’t speed up or kickstart your metabolism.
Fasting in the morning won’t damage your metabolism or make it slower.
Your metabolism is always working regardless of when you eat.
If you believe breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you need to question where this belief comes from.
Often it’s because you like eating breakfast and don’t want to give it up- that’s fine.
If you love breakfast, keep eating it. But if you don’t, then you don’t need it to lose fat.
MYTH: It’s harder to lose fat as you age because your metabolism slows down.
TRUTH: Your age is just an excuse for not being able to lose fat.
Your metabolism naturally slows down a tiny bit as you age but not enough to make a significant difference to your body weight, as long as you stay active and maintain your muscle mass.
What usually happens with age, is you move less and stop using your muscles as much causing them to atrophy.
This is how your metabolism “slows down” significantly. It’s not from your age.
No matter how old you are, you can lose fat. Your age isn’t to blame for your weight gain.
If something seems too good to be true, it usually is.
Transforming your body takes effort.
If something as simple as lemon water could boost your metabolism enough to help you lose fat, wouldn’t everyone do that?
Do your own research on everything! Fitness myths and diet trends will continue to keep popping up, but you don’t have to keep trying them.
Ps. If you’re ready to put in the effort to change your body, without fad diets or workouts that don’t work, you can apply for online coaching with me here.