Five Fitness Myths

NutriGrain-Low-Fat

The world of the internet. Everybody is an expert, and they all can bench 300lbs. The internet is a great tool, but it has done some damage to our industry. People assume the cover of a magazine or the headline of an article is the truth, and nothing but the truth. I am here to lay out five of the biggest myths in our industry, both in training, and in nutrition.

1. Eating fat makes you fat

The fat you have on your body is not the from the fat you ate the day, week, or year before. The fat you find in food is not what turns into body fat. The first thing that is digested when you eat is the fat. Your body needs essential fatty acids to survive. Your brain is run off fat. Your heart, the ability to walk, talk, and breath all requires fat. The fat you intake is immediately digested, so there is no need to worry about something that is high in fat. If you have a goal of fat loss, you need to be more concerned with your sugars and carbohydrates. I am not saying to avoid them, we need carbohydrates. However, excess carbohydrates and sugar raise insulin levels, which in turn makes bigger fat cells. This is a perfect bridge into the next myth.

2. Sugar free, fat-​​free, low-​​calorie, and other label hype

Why does a low-​​fat soda taste close to a regular soda? Why does a fat-​​free donut taste similar to a regular donut? Fat gives food flavor. We now know that fat in food is not what triggers body fat gains. How do they get this food to taste the same? These food companies feed off the uneducated, and now if they say something is low in fat, or fat-​​free, they will increase their sales. Just like anything else, the food industry is a business. In order to get something to taste the same without having the fat in it, fat that would normally give it flavor, they instead have to fill it with sugars. If something is low-​​fat, or fat-​​free, I can pretty well assume that it is going to be high in sugars to make up for the taste. Now, you might look at the label and see low sugars. However, I encourage you to go past the label and read the ingredients list. This is where all the crap is hidden. They change the name of these sugars so they don’t have the be listed in the nutrition label, but they are still listed in the ingredients.

Just know that if something is fat-​​free, low-​​fat, or any other marketing hype, it didn’t just disappear. They just moved it into a different category so the average Joe would think it is healthy. However, you should all now know that fat is not what makes you increase body fat, it is the sugars. So, these low-​​fat and fat-​​free foods are actually worse for you then the regular foods. I encourage you to eat a well-​​balanced diet of real foods, and don’t give into the marketing of fat-​​free or low fat, know that it is just hidden under some other name.

Does this mean waffles are now healthy for you?

Does this mean waffles are now healthy for you?

3. Eating 6 small meals is how you lose weight

Now, let me preface this by saying that eating six small meals each day may aid in your goal of fat loss. However,  I want you to know it is not the only option. Calories are calories, fat is fat, and sugar is sugar. There is a lot of research out there on intermittent fasting, and not eating breakfast. What they are finding is that breakfast may not be the most important meal of the day. Again, not saying that eating six small meals a day is wrong. The point being eating three, two, or even one large meal a day may get you the same results, if not better.

Intermittent fasting takes a look at a 24 hour window. The most common set up is 16 hours of fasting and 8 hours of eating. The idea behind this is no matter when you take your calories in they will get digested. Also, because you just fasted, your insulin is low and your body is going to digest things a lot better when you start to eat. However, this does not mean that you can eat whatever you want in these 8 hours.

I could do an entire article on fasting, but just realize you don’t have to eat six times a day to lose weight. That may be the best solution for you. I prefer to eat twice a day. It fits my schedule. I see incredible results. The important thing is to find what is right for you. Fasting may be the best thing in the world, but if it doesn’t fit your schedule, you can’t be consistent with it, and you won’t see results. Just like eating 6 times in a day is doable for some. Find what works for you, wash and repeat.

4. Core work gives you a six-​​pack

I get the question all the time. “What exercises can I do to get rid of this (grabs abdominal area)? My first response is always about their diet. Having a six-​​pack requires a low body fat. You can’t get a low body fat unless you have a sound diet. There is no such thing as spot reduction when it comes to fat loss. Targeting one area specifically will not make the area smaller. Actually, in most cases, it will make it larger. Think for a minute if you did 300 reps of bicep curls every day. What would happen to your bicep? It would get bigger, duh. Well, then why in the hell do some people do 300 sit ups a day. Unless you’re getting ready for a test, that is going to do nothing for your beach body look, in most cases it will actually cause hypertrophy of the abdominal wall. Not to mention destroy your back.

There is a great saying out there:

“Core appearance is 100% diet, core training should be used for function.”

If you want those washboard abs keep strength training, but don’t think that is going to make up for a poor diet. When you train your core it should be for function, whether that be in your job, sport, or life. To get those abs, you have to fix your diet.

5. Sport specific training

Again, the fitness industry is a business. There are a lot of people out there that will do anything for the quick buck. Sport specific training is one of these. How often do you hear people asking about baseball programs, football program, or (fill in any sport) camps?  They are really just a bunch of crap. When a parent calls asking if we have a sport specific program, I say no. They are always shocked by the initial answer until I explain the reason behind it. When we train kids, we are training the individual. Throwing a bunch of high schoolers into the same program is just asking for trouble. Sure, some will see results at first. Probably because they just left the couch. However, give it a few weeks and you will see a ton of plateauing, and even worse, injuries. Each athlete needs to be assessed individually. Of course taking into account what sports they play, but more importantly what injuries they have, their goals, and what their function is like. Can they do a proper push-​​up? Can they lift their arms over their head without compensating elsewhere, like in the lower back?

We need to stop throwing kids into every program, slow them down, and treat them as an individual. I wrote an entire article on this topic, you can find it here:  Sport Specific Training. What is it, and Should it Exist?

 

The point of this article, with a little rant, is for you to realize not everything you read is true. There is a lot of good information our there, but there is a lot more crap. Just like any other industry, this is a business. I encourage you to become educated on these topics, for sake of brevity I just opened up each topic. These are just five myths, without even thinking I could come up with a hundred more.

Do you agree with these myths? Do you have any comments? I would love to hear from you either on here, or over on Facebook.

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  1. alex says:

    I like the way you talk about food and fitness industries as businesses trying to make a quick buck. i have fell forbthese marketing gimmicks also. Lets face it, in todays society most all business is crooked. What are some good foods to eat and what are bad ingredients to watch out for?

    • Doug says:

      There are plenty of good foods out there. One of my favorite sayings is don\‘t eat anything out of a box. Things like pastas, cereals, and crackers can be filled with some nasty stuff. That is a pretty broad questions, but the more natural something is, not processed, generally speaking, the better it will be. Again, a general answer for a very broad question.

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Doug Spurling

Doug is President of Spurling Training Systems, located in Kennebunk, Maine. He graduated from University of New England with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Exercise Science. He has several years of experience as both a personal trainer for general fitness and a strength and conditioning coach for athletes. His certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) include Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and Certified Personal Trainer (CPT).

Doug began his fitness experience as a personal trainer at a private fitness facility while in college. While there, he worked with everything from absolute beginners to elite athletes, elderly and pre-teen populations and everything in between. After college, Doug worked closely with top Division I schools, developing strength and conditioning programs for their athletes. He continues to work with University of New England, assisting in undergraduate courses as well as training the varsity athletes.

Doug also authors his own online blog where he shares his knowledge of and passion for fitness, sports, and nutrition. You can find more about him, Spurling Training Systems, his blog, subscribe to his newsletter, and get his free ebook by heading over to his website.