Health & Fitness Myths – Fact or Fiction?
Unravelling the fact and fiction around your fitness regime can be challenging, with all the information out there it can be hard to work out what is fact and what is just marketing hype! As a Personal Trainer my clients often ask me questions about “Fitness Tips” they have heard or read – Here are some of my favourites.
Strength training will help you turn fat into muscle!
FICTION: Unfortunately, fat and muscle are two completely different types of tissue. One cannot be turned into the other however it is possible to increase muscle mass which will in turn help to burn fat. When you increase muscle mass, you increase your basal metabolic rate or the amount of calories your body needs to burn to maintain homeostasis. This means that the more muscle your body has the better it will be at burning fat.
With the right Personal Trainer I can target fat reduction in my “problem” areas!
FICTION: I am sorry to disappoint you again but you can’t pick and choose areas where you’d like to burn fat! Spot reduction is the misconception that if you work a specific muscle group you will decrease the amount of fat in that area. The most common example of this is people focusing on abdominal exercises in an effort to lose weight in their stomach area; this is just not going to work! Fat can only be lost from the body as a whole and in an order that is predetermined by your genetics. In order to burn overall body fat I recommend a workout that includes both High Intensity Interval Training and Strength Training. This will decrease your overall body fat percentage, including your “problem” areas. Remember, exercise alone is not enough, you also need to be making good healthy decisions about the fuel you put into your body.
Lack of Sleep Leads to Weight Gain!
FACT: When you’re sleep deprived, leptin (the hormone that signals fullness) falls, while ghrelin (which signals hunger) rises. This combination leads to an increase in appetite. Sleep deprivation tends to lead to food cravings, particularly for sweet and starchy foods. Research suggests that sugar cravings stem from the fact that your brain is fuelled by glucose (blood sugar). So, when lack of sleep occurs, your brain is unable to properly respond to insulin (which drives glucose into brain cells) and you crave carbohydrates to keep going. If you’re chronically sleep deprived, consistently giving in to these sugar cravings will virtually guarantee that you’ll gain weight. Getting proper sleep is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight.
Women who lift weights will bulk up!
FICTION: While on a strength program, the right hormones (testosterone) are necessary in order to bulk up. Women’s testosterone levels are much lower than men’s, so in most cases, they are not capable of building large muscles. In fact, since muscle takes up less room than fat, women tend to lose inches when they strength train. So in addition to the physical benefits (increased metabolism, decreased risk of osteoporosis, increased strength), strength training will help you slim down too!
No pain, no gain!
FICTION: You should definitely not be feeling pain during exercise. Discomfort due to the intensity of the workout? Yes. Fatigue in your muscles? Yes. But not pain! Effort and discomfort go together and that’s what most people would call good pain. You generally expect to feel some level of discomfort during exercise however if it becomes actual pain – burning, stabbing or sharp pain, that’s not a good sign and you should stop. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that it’s beginning to breakdown. So listen to your body when you exercise.
Exercise Boosts Brainpower!
FACT: Not only does exercise improve your body, it helps your mental function. Exercise increases energy levels and increases serotonin in the brain, which leads to improved mental clarity and increased productivity.