Editor’s note: This article was originally published on March 30, 2017. It has since been edited for accuracy and to remove broken links.
There is a lot of confusion out there when it comes to nutrition and exercise. Here are the five nutrition and fitness myths that I hear most frequently.
1. Working out on an empty stomach burns more calories
While there is some evidence that working out in a fasted state burns more fat, the cons outweigh the pros with this one. Food is fuel, and if you don’t have enough fuel on board you will be unable to train as hard, so you won’t get as much from your workout. A pre-workout meal or snack helps to boost performance, sustain your energy levels, preserve muscle mass and help speed up recovery. If you’re doing a short workout (less than 30 minutes), it probably won’t make much of a difference either way, but anything longer or a more intense workout should be coupled with at least a small snack pre-exercise.
2. You have to eat massive amounts of protein to gain muscle
Do you need protein to build muscle? Yes, but probably not as much as you think. Most active people need 1.2 to 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, which would be 82-95 grams of protein per day for a 150 pound person. Weight lifters or people who are trying to gain more muscle should aim for 1.4-2 grams per kilogram, which is 95-136 grams per day. More than 40 grams of protein at one meal has not been shown to have a benefit. If you overeat protein, and your body doesn’t need it, it will be converted into sugar or fat instead.
3. Lifting weights will make you bulky
For all my ladies out there, let me clear this one up for you right now – you will not get “big” from lifting weights! Women have only about one-tenth the testosterone of men, so you will never “look like a guy” from heavy weights. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism, and the more fat and calories you burn even while at rest. Muscle takes up less room than fat, so when you build muscle and burn fat you will actually end up looking smaller. Strength training is one of the best ways you can change the shape of your body. Light weights– (I’m looking at you 3lb and 5lb dumbbells) do not put enough stress on your muscles, so you don’t end up seeing results. So put down those tiny weights and pick up heavier dumbbells. Aim to do 8 to 12 reps, and use a weight heavy enough that the last one or two reps is very difficult.
4. You need to eat within 30 minutes after a workout to recover properly
Post-workout, your muscles are primed to accept nutrients and utilize those nutrients to repair and regenerate. While research used to support consuming protein and carbs within 30-45 minutes after exercise, this was based on short-term data. Longer-term studies now show that the “window of opportunity” post-workout is much longer than we originally thought. Protein synthesis lasts for at least 48 hours after exercise, though for best results aim to eat a meal or snack within two hours post-workout.
5. Eating 5-6 times per day keeps your metabolism up
Research has shown there is no significant difference in metabolism when eating 5 or 6 small frequent meals or 3 larger meals. For many of my clients, eating more frequently throughout the day leads to increased calorie intake, which doesn’t help with their weight loss goals. Your best bet is to eat three balanced meals along with the occasional snack if you are going more than five or six hours between meals.
Did any of these myths surprise you? Share your comments below!
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