“The difference between a myth and a fact is good science.” I love this phrase. You see, fitness and weight loss don’t need to be complicated, but I often overhear conversations between gym-goers discussing fitness advice that just isn’t true. We get confused from media and hearsay. Let me try to shed some light on several urban myths by looking at the science.
Myth #1 – Heavy weights will bulk women up like a guy. This just isn’t possible for most women. Science says that ladies have too much estrogen in our hormone makeup. Yes, heavier weights build muscle and strength, but most of us aren’t lifting anything so heavy that we are at risk for man-muscles. Having more muscle on your body ensures you will use more calories throughout the day, which is important as we age. If you do feel like you are gaining too much muscle (genetics plays a role), then lighter weights with higher reps is still a good option and will help to tone and firm.
Myth #2 – Squats make your butt big. This one cracks me up. We all know what makes your butt big, and it isn’t squats! If you want to lose fat in your backside, then do more cardio, which will reduce body fat by burning overall calories. Science shows that squats will help to lift, firm, and tone your buns and give them shape. Focus on good form, keeping your knees above your shoelaces. Sit back into an imaginary chair, then squeeze back up through your glutes.
Myth #3 – You have to walk slowly to burn body fat. You use two types of fuel when you exercise – fat and glucose (carbohydrates/sugars break down into glucose in your body). Yes, your body uses more fat as its fuel choice when walking at a moderate pace. However, your calorie burn is also moderate. When you pick up the pace and walk or run with high intensity, your body uses more glucose as fuel but burns calories at a faster rate. As science proves time and again, the reality is still “calories in vs. calories out,” regardless of the fuel used when trying to lose significant weight. Therefore, pick up the pace and you will likely melt body fat faster.
Myth #4 – Working out on an empty stomach will help burn more body fat. This one is far from true! Science has shown that fat burns in a flame of glucose. You must have glucose in your system to ignite your “fat burning furnaces.” If you run out of stored glucose your flame goes out and you start burning up muscle. This is oversimplified science, but you get the idea: You need to have some glucose in your system. And as I mentioned above, your body burns a mixture of fat and glucose as you exercise at moderate to hard intensity. If you like to work out first thing in the morning or after a long day at work, make sure to eat some carbohydrates an hour or so before. A granola bar, a banana, whole grain toast, whole grain cereal. Just one serving size; don’t overdo it. But an empty stomach isn’t the answer to fat burning!