Myth #1: The only way to lose weight is to drastically cut calories.
Fact: If we eat too little, our body responds as though we were starving and slows down our metabolism to hold on to fat as a potential energy source as long as possible. Eating smaller quantities more frequently is the way to keep your metabolism going.
Much better to divide up your daily calorie allotment determined by your age and gender into 5 or 6 small meals. Your body will burn calories more efficiently if they’re fed to it in smaller portions.
This is why starving all day to gorge on a holiday dinner works against us.
Myth #2: A woman will bulk up if she lifts heavy weights.
Fact: Women don’t lift heavy enough weights to bulk up and have too much estrogen in their bodies to develop man muscles.
And muscles are the key to revving up metabolisms and keeping weight off.
Your muscles are burning calories even as you read this and even when you’re sleeping. Fat, as you might suspect, requires few calories to just sit there and be a blob. It’s not exchanging gases and chemicals 24/7 the way our muscles are.
Myth #3: Stay in the fat-burning zone to lose weight faster.
Fact: Despite what your treadmill screen suggests, there is no such thing as a fat-burning zone. “The fat-burning zone is a complete myth,” says Wayne Westcott, PhD, Prevention advisory board member and fitness research director at Quincy College. “While it’s true that you burn a higher percentage of fat calories when exercising at a moderate pace, you burn fewer calories overall.”
Typically, the mythical zone has you exercising at only 60-70% of your maximum rate. This is one place where intuition and common sense and fact do intersect: The faster you work out, the more fat you’ll burn.
Myth #4: Increasing cardio workouts is the best way to lose weight.
Fact: The most effective way to take off pounds is to include weights in your routine. A recent study found that persons who cycled for 30 minutes a day lost 3 pounds of fat and gained one half pound of muscle.
But over the same period of time, persons who cycled for 15 minutes and weight-trained for 15 minutes lost 10 pounds of fat and gained 2 pounds of (calorie-burning) muscle.
Myth #5: The fastest way to a flat belly is ab exercises.
Fact: Though ab exercises do strengthen different abdominal muscles, they won’t burn body fat. Aaron Swan, a private trainer at the Sports Club/LA-Boston says, “Abs are made in the kitchen—not from doing crunches.”
He advocates a diet low in refined carbohydrates and lots of lean proteins, healthy fats and lots of low-glycemic fruits and vegetables. Still, you should do some abdominal exercises for core strength.
Tomorrow: 5 more Myths about fitness workouts
Source: Prevention, April 19, 2012 and other sources.