15 Diet and Exercise Myths (Debunked)

Forget myths and lies! We're giving you the cold hard truth.

It seems like everyone is ready to offer a piece of advice nowadays. Unfortunately, a lot of the tidbits you hear about diet and exercise are just plain false. Don’t let the rumors get in the way of your healthy lifestyle goals. Below, we’ve debunked 15 of the most common diet and exercise myths so that you can stay on track and see results.

15 Diet and Exercise Myths (Debunked):

Myth #1: The only way to lose weight is to drastically cut back on calories.
Sure. If you drastically cut back on calories, you’ll lose weight, but results won’t be long term. Not only is this type of extreme dieting nearly impossible to sustain, it’s unhealthy and can cause a number of health issues.

Myth #2: You need to lose a lot of weight to see any health benefits.
When you have a lot of weight to lose, it can feel as if you’ll never reach your goals. Luckily, dropping even a modest amount of weight can have significant health benefits. For every 2 lbs. you drop, you can lower your cholesterol by as much as 3 points, and recent studies show that both men and women can reduce blood pressure by losing as little as 9 pounds. Get started with our Skinny Beginner’s Workout.

Myth #3: Weight gain is inevitable as we age.
It’s true that it is more difficult to keep weight from accumulating around our midsections as we age, but it is not impossible. By monitoring daily calories, eating primarily clean foods, exercising regularly, and participating in strength training, you can keep your trim physique for years to come.

Myth #4: Don’t eat late at night.
Believe it or not, calories can’t tell time. Your body processes calories the same, no matter what time you eat them. The myth stems from the choices we usually make for late night snacking—processed foods, or foods high in sugars and extra fat. Avoid binging and opt for a nice piece of fruit, instead. Try one of these healthy snacks for fewer than 100 calories.

Myth #5: Carbs are bad.
Carbohydrates don’t make you fat. Extra calories do. As with everything, moderation is key. Carbohydrates are found in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains—important additions to a healthy diet. The key is to minimize consumption of simple carbs, while choosing mostly complex carbs. Learn more about simple vs. complex carbs here.

Myth #6: Fat makes you fat.
Yes, fat contains more calories than carbs or protein, but that doesn’t make it the enemy. Fat in moderation can not only make you feel fuller, it also helps with the absorption of certain vitamins and phytonutients, leading to better health. Learn how to select the best fats here.

Myth #7: The more you work out, the better.
While the CDC recommends that the average healthy adult work out 150 minutes per week, working out more than this, or performing the same activity each day can actually have a negative impact on one’s health. Muscles and joints need time to repair themselves, and overworking them will not only burn fewer calories because you’re more apt to use incorrect form when fatigued, but will also leave you prone to injuries.

Myth #8: Lifting weights will make women bulky.
Bulky muscles are caused by testosterone and women just don’t have enough of this mostly male hormone to get bulky from lifting weights. Because muscle takes up less space than fat, strength training will actually make muscles appear shapelier. Try one of these equipment-free strength workouts.

Myth #9: Crunches will give you a flat stomach.
No amount of crunches will leave you with a 6-pack if you’ve got a layer of fat covering up those abdominal muscles. The only way to get that flat belly you’ve always dreamed of is with a combination of a healthy diet and exercise. Check out these 25 Flat Belly Foods and our Flat Belly Workout.

Myth #10: Diet foods help you diet.
Words like “low fat” or “low carb” don’t necessarily mean “low calorie”. “Diet” foods are often loaded with hidden dangers, like artificial sweeteners and preservatives. When tempted to go for diet versions of your favorite treats, it’s much better to go with a smaller portion of the real thing. It’ll taste much better, too! Need help with your diet soda addiction? Take our No Soda Challenge.

Myth #11: Muscle weighs more than fat.
We’ve all heard this one. As tempting as it might be to tell yourself that those high numbers on the scale are due to your muscular physique, a pound is a pound, whether it is made up of muscle or fat. Muscle is more dense than fat, however, so it will make you appear leaner. Plus, muscle burns more calories, so the stronger you get, the higher your metabolic rate.

Myth #12: You have to sweat to have a good workout.
The truth is that you burn more calories the harder you work. While sweating may think make you think you’re working harder, this can be an illusion. Working hard is better determined by the amount of energy your muscles need to exert. Try one of these Skinny Ms. Workouts.

Myth #13: If you’re eating healthy, you can eat as much as you want.
A calorie, is a calorie, is a calorie, no matter where it comes from. While it is much healthier for your body when you take in only nutritious, clean foods, eating too much of anything will still pack on the pounds.

Myth #14: Stretching before exercise is imperative.
We know. This is one myth that has been hammered into us since we were kids. Unfortunately, recent research shows that stretching before exercise can actually increase the risk of injury. Instead, start with a light warm-up, and stretch after you’ve finished exercising when muscles are loose and warm. Check out these tips for relieving sore muscles after a workout.

Myth #15: Only eat fresh fruits and vegetables to stay healthy.
Recent studies show that canned and frozen fruits and vegetables can be just as healthful as fresh fruits and vegetables. Plus, they’re often more economically sensible. Just be sure to watch for varieties with added ingredients, like extra salt or sugar.

Be sure to check in to Skinny Ms. regularly for healthy recipes and the latest in health and fitness.


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Kym Votruba

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