Myths and Mistakes on Health and Fitness

8 Myths in health and fitness

Myth 1: Excess cardio and little to no weight training

Many people are still believe that doing 1-2 hours of steady state cardio is the way to go if you want to lose a lot of weight. Yes, sure, any activity can raise your metabolism and allow you to be in a caloric deficit which will result in you losing weight.

Did you know that chronic cardio can be detrimental to you health? It can be a potential injury waiting to happen, and here is why: if you have been living a sedentary lifestyle for years and then decide to jump on a treadmill for 2 hours everyday… what you need to understand that your body (ligaments and tendons) not used to the impact/pressure that you are placing on them, your knees, ankles are at high risk of getting injured in cases like this.

Excess cardio also releases high amounts of cortisol (stress hormone) which causes weight gain. If you want to build lean muscle then excess cardio will not play favorably towards your goal. When you lose weight which consists of fat, water, bone density and muscle, you are causing confusion in your body which will cause you to burn lean muscle and gain belly fat.

Remember there are benefits to cardio, such as longevity, heart health and it burns calories at a faster rate than weight training.

So, anything in excess is always bad for your health and the consequences are worse than others, in this instance and injury to your knees can slow your progress down and you can pick up more weight than you originally had.

Myth 2: Dramatically cutting calories

Along with excessive cardio, people believe that cutting calories in half of what their bodies need will get you results faster. For example, a medium build female and he total daily exercise expenditure (TDEE) 1800 per day and you reduce it to 900 calories a day. Yes, you will lose the weight but because it is not a sustainable approach. Within a week your body will shut down, your metabolism will slow down and your hormones will go out of sync.

Once your goal is reached, your body will start craving on a crazy level. And it won’t be for a salad! It will be for milkshakes, pizza, burgers, chocolates, sweets, beer. You immediately start feeling guilty the moment you take the first bite, you see, this chemically altered, highly processed extremely delicious food goes into your mouth, pleasure signals light up in the brain and realizes what has been missing for the past few weeks! the brain which always wants to protect and comfort you, tries to persuade you to not deprive your body of such pleasures and to keep on going. Then, you still add that you will do cardio twice a day to burn the calories that I ate.

A few weeks down the line you are back to square 1 with even more fat added on. This is a typical scenario for anyone who relies on excess cardio and chronic caloric deficit diet. Stats have stated that 90% of people gain their weigh back within a year using this approach.

Myth 3: Getting rid of fat in a certain area on the body

No, no, no! this is not possible, you cannot spot reduce, I see so many people in the gym only do crunches, leg raises, leg lifts and side crunches only, you will not lose fat in that area. A study conducted in 2011 to investigate the effect of abdominal exercise on abdominal fat. They used 24 healthy sedentary volunteers 14 men, 10 women between the ages of 18-40 they were assigned to a group where they performed 7 types of ab exercises – 2 sets of 10 reps for 5 day over a 6-week period.

The results showed that there was no significant effect of the ab exercises on the body weight, body fat% and the abdominal circumference. In conclusion, it does not work, you can only lose fat overall and not in a certain area only. Dispute SS, Smith JD, et al, The effect of abdominal exercise on abdominal fat, Strength Cond Res. 2011 Sep;25(9):2559-64

Myth 4: Your body burns fat after 20 minutes of cardio

I’ve definitely heard this saying before and it is a complete myth! here is why: the moment you step on any machine you start burning calories, a high % of calories come from fat at low intensity ie walking on a treadmill, and some also come from carbs(this varies from person to person)

As you increase the intensity of your activity the calories you burn from fat will decrease and the body will now start to focus on your glycogen stores (which is carbs stored in liver and muscle tissue) Remember: that there is no set point from when you start burning fat

Myth 5: You Can Essentially Change the Shape of Your Muscle by Performing Certain Exercises

Muscle fibers, muscle shapes, abdominal length, muscle insertion points are all genetically determined. Consider this John has short biceps, what that means is that when he flexes his biceps, one can easily insert three fingers in between the biceps and his forearm. John feels he has trained a certain way to achieve that look; which is not the case.

Ideally, one needs to simply build up enough mass according to their height, get body fat down to less than 15% (men) 20% (women) which is more than 90% of the work done. Once you have worked hard to build your required muscle mass and have a low body fat % you can ONLY refine your physique!

Doing endless concentration curls, hammer curls won’t really change the shape of your muscles! If you lack in upper chest development - add incline press in your routine which will add more mass to your upper chest. if you want more width on your shoulders, add lateral raises to your routine and so forth. So again— muscles are genetically shaped, and you can only increase or decrease their size.

Myth 6: Limit calorie intake to 10% to lose weight and for good health

Because there are good and bad fats, fat can be your worst enemy or your best friend Coconut nut which is one of the superfoods has 94% saturated fat (Lauric acid) which has antimicrobial, antiviral, antibacterial and antiprotozoal properties.

Did you know that the ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega 3 is 2:1 for optimal health? But in today’s time is skewed to 16:1 to even sometimes 50:1. This imbalance can cause havoc in your immune system such as cardiovascular, autoimmune disease. To improve this ratio increase intake of fatty fish like salmon, tuna to twice weekly and decrease intake of processed vegetable oils (bad fats) such as sunflower, soy and cottonseed oil. If you are a vegetarian and don't eat fish, supplement with fish oil/krill oil which are sold at pharmacies Good fats are needed for host of important functions like absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K). Fat is digested slowly and play a major role in curbing hunger pangs which in turn helps to avoid excessive intake of carbohydrates especially the refined ones. Also note that a low-fat diet can lower your testosterone levels which can slow muscle growth.

Bad fats which should be completely avoided are trans-fatty acids. Trans fats are known to increase blood levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, while lowering levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol. Trans fats have also been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. Ideally aim for an intake of at least 30% (of your daily total calorie intake) from good fats and aim to eliminate bad fats.

Myth 7: Eating carbs at night will make you fat

• Eating more calories than you can burn will make you fatter

• Eating refined sugars like donuts, pastries, biscuits will increase your insulin resistance which will make you fatter

• Not working out and living a sedentary lifestyle will make you fatter

• Your body is smart and knows how to regulate its metabolism based on your habitual eating patterns.

I’m sure you’ve heard ‘experts’ say that your metabolism slows down at night. Eat breakfast like a king and dinner like a pauper. In a 1992 study in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 52 moderately obese adult women were randomly assigned to a weight loss program. The no-breakfast group ate two meals per day and the breakfast group ate three meals per day. Their energy content was identical. Fat loss was greatest among the non-breakfast eaters who followed the breakfast skipping diet and maxed their calorie intake after 6pm. No 1 Rule to remember – EAT LESS THAN YOUR TDEE if you want to lose fat

Myth 8: Weight training will make me look bulky

This is my favorite myth and I always harp on it…The general perception with weights is that it will make you bulky and people believe that by lifting heavy weights they will start to look like a bodybuilder. Most of the bodybuilders are on steroids and train few hours almost every day. Most of them have superior genetics than you and me. What we need to understand is that natural muscle building is a slow process and most men are incapable of generating the kind of intensity needed to build muscles naturally (incapable—not ability wise, but desire and focus wise).

LADIES! Weights will make you thin, toned and sexy NOT bulky. Our testosterone levels are waaaaaay too low for that too happen. (Naturally ofcourse)


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  2. Qi Sun, Jing Ma, Hannia Campos, et al, A Prospective Study of Trans Fatty Acids in Erythrocytes and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease, Circulation. 2007; 115: 1858-1865
  3. Wang C, Catlin DH, Starcevic B, et al, Low-fat high-fiber diet decreased serum and urine androgens in men, J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Jun;90(6):3550-9. Epub 2005 Mar 1
  4. 5. Akash Sehrawat – Holistic Health and Personal trainer