Why are we still listening to these 4 fitness and nutrition myths?

fitness and nutrition myths

I’ve done enough consults over the years to hear all the fitness and nutrition myths.

Myths that are still around from the 70’s because your friend Betty, (who is not a health and fitness professional or has any visible results to show for her knowledge) keeps spreading this misinformation.

Sorry Betty, but everyone knows a Betty… That person in your life that, without any evidence, keeps spreading the word about these fitness and nutrition myths that may be holding you back from getting to the next level.

Personally, I’m always surprised over the cognitive dissonance when I attempt to dispel these myths in a 1 on 1 consultation scenario, so I thought I’d have a go at it blog style and really let it rip.

So for your reading pleasure and informative delight.

Here are 4 Myths that we are going to put to bed and say goodnight.

fitness and nutrition myths

Myth 1 – Dont eat the yolk?

The bogus war on cholesterol has gone on far too long. It has brought us trans fats and highly processed vegetable oils (like canola oil) which are poison to your body. Genetics is the primary driver of cholesterol levels, but your cholesterol will rise and fall with body fat and blood sugar levels. So eating real food (like the whole egg) is a far better solution to overall health than not eating eggs while staying away from sugar (which affects blood sugar levels) will ultimately help you lose weight and should correlate with improved cholesterol.

I’m a fan of eating at least 2 eggs daily. The choline in the blood helps regulate blood sugars (elevated blood sugar is a real cause of weight gain and obesity). And it’s nothing new to anyone that healthy fats are good… And the yolk is a healthy fat! The yolk contains iron, vitamin d, vitamin b, b12, and choline. Most of those vitamins and minerals people tend to be deficient in. So why are we not eating the yolks?

But what about cholesterol you say… High levels of “bad” cholesterol (ldl) in the blood are still a health concern. Well, what’s changed now is that many scientists and studies now believe that eating cholesterol-rich foods such as eggs may not affect the cholesterol that is in your blood.

And no, eating more cholesterol does not increase your ldl cholesterol. It actually increases your hdl! (The good cholesterol).

Furthermore, the studies that showed eggs were bad for people was constructed by the cereal board. Yes, Tony the Tiger, Lucky the Leprechaun, and that Trix rabbit all got together to scare people from eating eggs, because get this… it raised your hdl (the good cholesterol). So all these years, people have perpetuated this myth on cereal’s behalf about eggs being bad for you… when in fact they are actually good for you!

breakfast cereal myth
Can you really trust this face?

P.s. And as I always say, I don’t promote anything on my blog or ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do. I regularly have 4-6 eggs for breakfast. You will be ok if 2 eggs make it into your diet everyday.

Myth 2 – Lifting weights makes you bulky

Look last time I looked it up, there was a stat that said something like 1-2 million people in the United States were taking performance enhancing drugs like steroids. Let that marinate with you for a bit…. Steroids have become so common, in fact, that Dr. Pope (a Harvard medical school specialist in steroid abuse and author of The Adonis Complex) believes most of us no longer recognize a steroid-enhanced body when we see one. They’re all around us, bulging with injection-enhanced muscle but posing as clean. Because there are certain dimensions that cannot be attained without chemical help, Dr. Pope adds, he can walk through the mall or grab a stack of magazines and swiftly pick out many of the steroid users. The numbers, he says, are astonishingly high: “He once grabbed six men’s magazines at random, and was certain that more than half of them had steroid-enhanced men on the covers.”

I can tell you from the experience of someone who HAS NEVER TAKEN steroids and lifted A LOT of weights over the years, that is is very hard to build muscle. Anyone that has ate food with me, knows how much I eat and even with this, it still is incredibly challenging to build muscle. So, please, can we put this to bed… You will not get bulky from lifting weights. You will get bulky from eating muffins, a bad diet and excess calories or you will get bulky from a bad diet and excess calories and lifting weights. You are in control of this, unless you slip on a needle of testosterone or have a penchant for hitting the drive thru.

Myth 3 – If I want to tone I have to run, do more cardio or lift light weights…

Think of toning as a sculptor remaking your body. In order to do this, sometimes the sculptor has to add clay (muscle) to get the desired definition of the piece. And sometimes the sculptor needs less clay and has to chisel it away (lose fat) for the finished piece.

Herego, toning is really a mix of taking away clay (fat) and adding clay (muscle) to bring out the desired results.

In addition to this, muscle building can happen across all rep ranges. See here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/28834797/

Futhermore, if you wanted to get more specific with rep ranges:

  • 1-3 reps is power
  • 3-6 reps is strength
  • 6-15 is muscle building (the mythical hypertrophy unicorn)
  • 15+ is metabolic stress – the buildup of lactic acid where time under tension is so long that it feels like the muscle is going to explode. This needs to be constant time under tension for more impact and can improve endurance of the muscle. Think of how your body felt on the rower for 3 minutes last month… At 25 strokes/minute that was 75 reps or in the 50 rep squat sets on the Canada Day workout.

Everyone is different. Everyone reacts different to different rep ranges based on neurotransmitter dominance, muscle fibre type, muscle insertions and origins, limb length, and mind body connection with that muscle….

So, good practice is balance and thus we train all rep ranges…. And eat better. You can add clay to your body but won’t reap the benefit of “toning” unless you chisel some of it away with quality nutrition.

If you require more evidence about not getting bulky, please refer to the befit all star page… All of these individuals got stronger and leaner with multiple days of weight training per week. So whether you are young, old, male, female, healthy, injured. Pick up some weights and start lifting. Weight training benefits everyone and I can’t believe we are still debating this one.

Myth 4 – Don’t let the knees past the toes on squats

This is another one of those myths that every personal trainer has been affected by… I just don’t know how this became the standard? It took a conversation with my chiropractor and experiencing knee pain myself to get past this one. In fact, this has to be the most pervasive myth when it comes to any exercise in the fitness industry!!!
If you look at any elite olympic weight lifter, their knees go past the toes. And this is happening at speed with heavy weights! By the way, there is a very low rate of knee injuries in these individuals.

fitness myths, fitness myth

The highest compressive force on the knee occurs at 90 degrees (a parallel squat, where we were all taught to stop you at). So why would we continually keep stopping you in a position where the compressive force is highest??? Especially when the compressive force on the knee reduces as you squat lower towards your hamstring and calf making contact.

There are also numerous everyday examples where your knee goes past the toe in your life. Times like when you walk up and down stairs, when you pick up objects off the ground, and many athletic endeavours. If we want to make movements like this more efficient, we need to train them!

The human body is designed to let the knees go past the toes as you squat. If you have back pain when you squat, odds are one of our BEFIT performance coaches has come to you and suggested not worrying about your knees travelling forward as you keep your torso more vertical. This reduces torque on your low back which will make your squat feel more comfortable and “leggy”.

Definition of leggy – when you feel a lower body exercise in the muscles of your legs rather than the joints.

Having played around with this concept with over 100 people in the gym, I can say letting the knees travel past the toes cleans up the squat for most people.

Here are some instances where it may not be right for you:

  • Your calves are so tight that you can’t keep your heels on the ground when your knees go past your toes
  • You have existing knee pain and deep squats don’t feel good. (Doing movements where you feel pain is the absolute worst thing you can do – address the mobility and/or stability issues and avoid that movement, as you need to take care of those limiting factors before coming back to squats).
  • Your squats feel great right now as you squat with full range without thinking about this. Proper squatting is all about moving at the hips first, staying balanced, and upright. The rest takes care of itself.
Now that’s some forward knees, a lot of weight, and an upright torso… AND NO KNEE PAIN!

Summing it up:

No one is certain where this myth started. However, it has become a mainstay in today’s fitness and medical world. The instruction is even a part of the NSCA guidelines for how to teach a proper squat. The cue to limit the knees from moving past the toes during the squat is really nothing more than a quick fix to a deeper problem in which you should probably not be squatting anyways. In hindsight the originators of this cue were likely well-intentioned personal trainers or physical therapists.

From a safety standpoint, there is no advantage to restricting the knee motion in the squat. Doing so may place increased stress on the knee and hip, while putting the low back at risk. Further keeping the knees from passing over the toes during the squat is less effective for training strength in the muscles surrounding the knee and ankle joints. If you are trying to optimize lower body strength and power, especially athletic performance, full range, unrestricted squats are the way to go.

I appreciate you taking the time to read my post, if you have questions on other fitness and nutrition myths that you would like me to write about, please comment below.

Committed to your continued success,
Josh Saunders, BS, CSCS