The world of female fitness is completely cluttered with myths.
So many that the chance of an article debunking them all is slim to none.
With that said, I’ve done my best to put together a decent sized list of some of the top myths that are preventing you from being fit.
In all honesty, when it comes to some of these fitness myths, men and women don’t think all that much differently.
So, without further ado, let’s get to debunking some myths so you can accomplish all of your fitness goals!
1. Women Need To Train Differently Than Men
If you’re new to training, you’ve probably been brought up under the age-old theory that men need to lift heavy to get huge and women need to lift light to get “toned”. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t the case.
In both men and women, the rep range for strength training falls in between 1-5 reps for 4-6 sets per exercise and hypertrophy training falls in between 6-15 reps for 3-5 sets per exercise. Both are going to build a great deal of muscle, especially if you’re an inexperienced lifter.
The good news is that hormonal difference between men and women will affect how that muscle shapes your body.
While testosterone filled men training in these rep ranges will experience muscle growth resulting in a bulkier physique, women who train in these rep ranges will still see muscle growth, but likely won’t see a bulkier physique because of their lack of testosterone and abundance of estrogen.
However, utilizing these rep ranges appropriately in a workout program for a duration of time, and while in a caloric deficit, will shed any unwanted fat while also building muscle to give you that “toned” look most desire.
2. There’s such a thing a “good” and “bad” food
Typecasting your food is one of the worst things you can do for your mental health.1 You really don’t want to go down the mental road of deciding what food is off limits.
It breeds a mentality to where even if you have the calories to enjoy the food you like, you may binge eat it because it’s “forbidden” and this is your all or nothing once in a blue moon chance to enjoy it’s taste.
Even if you are able to eat in moderation, you’ll have guilt about eating it, because you’ve already deemed it “dirty” and impure. This will make the temporary bloated weight gains associated with eating a food you’re not used to seem like the end of the world.
Instead, try to think of food for its nutritional quality. Use it to meet your macros and micros so you can fuel your weight lifting and cardio sessions. And once you have met your minimal micro requirements (vitamins and minerals), if you have macros (protein, carbs, and fats) left over, enjoy a treat that you like! (Thank you flexible dieting!)
3. Eating a low carb diet is best for fat loss
If you want to accomplish all of your fitness goals, you’ve got to have fuel for your workouts. If you’re cutting out carbs, you’re instantly eliminating your body’s favorite source of fuel.
Carbs have somehow earned a bad rap and are now guilty of causing massive amounts of fat gain. They’re also starting to be blamed for more and more allergic reactions with seemingly everyone developing an allergy to gluten. To everyone’s joy (carbs sure are delicious!), this isn’t true.
In fact, studies have even shown that weight loss is still possible while consuming up to 70% of your calories from carbohydrates2. On top of that, only 1 percent of the US population is allergic to gluten and another 6 percent are sensitive to it.3
The absolute sugar filled maraschino cherry on top? Most institutions recommend 45-65% of total calorie consumption come from carbohydrates for those who train (weightlifting and/or cardio) regularly.
Obviously, to lead a healthy lifestyle, you’ll want to obtain the majority of those carbs from sources rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals such as fruits, veggies, and whole grains.
4. Women need to perform a lot of cardio to be fit
Where to begin with this one? Firstly, cardio is a good thing. It keeps your cardiovascular system in tip-top shape, which many will struggle to do through weight lifting alone.
However, this piece of advice seems so mainstream and straight out of a cheap grocery store checkout magazine. Believe it or not, this myth dates back to the Kennedy presidency4.
Kennedy did a lot for physical fitness during his time as president. He believed we were a lazy nation (oh if he could see what we’re becoming). Anyway, fitness wasn’t as sophisticated as it is now back in Kennedy’s days. One form of exercise he advocated was jogging (or running). Thus, we became a nation of joggers.
These days, some newer trainees (both male and female) still believe they can get the body they see in magazines through jogging alone.
Truth be told, you can get results from cardio, especially when it comes to fat loss. However, they’re hard to continuously come by. The body enjoys this system called progressive overload, where you continuously increase some variable of your workout.
Personally, I can only get so fast and (even if I run consistently) it can be hard maintaining or increasing my pace every cardio session. That’s where both men and women can benefit from weight training.
It’s a lot easier to manipulate the variables involved in resistance training. You can increase the weight, the reps, or change the tempo in which you lift the weight. It can also cut down on the total amount of time you spend working out, so you can have more time to enjoy YOUR life.
5. Women Shouldn’t Take Creatine
For some reason, a lot of people still fear creatine monohydrate. There’s numerous studies out about how beneficial it can be, yet people still adhere to the myths.
Creatine can assist women in achieving their resistance training goals5. It can help you increase the amount of work you’re capable of doing in the gym. This leads to more calories burned, and depending on how you’re eating can indirectly lead to a greater amount of fat loss.
6. Women don’t need to eat as much protein
Women don’t need to eat as much protein as men, sure. But that’s only because men and women have different caloric needs. Women looking to lose fat should keep protein consumption rather high relative to their overall calorie consumption.
Having a high protein consumption while trying to lose fat will help you preserve lean muscle while also helping keep you satiated (feeling full)6.
Taking a whey protein powder post workout and/or eating a protein bar can help you reach your daily protein requirements. Drinking a whey protein post workout may help you recover faster from your workout, while a protein bar is the perfect high protein snack to eat during the course of the day.
As an added bonus, in this day and age most proteins actually taste great! The flavors offered these days are all very “desserty” and can help satisfy your sweet tooth in a very nutritious way.
How much protein should you be eating? Everyone is different. Try to find a sweet spot somewhere in between .7g-1.2g per pound of bodyweight daily.
Don’t let silly myths hold you back from achieving your fitness goals.
If you want to be lean, the keys to success are simple:
- Resistance train with an appropriate program that incorporates both cardio and weightlifting.
- Eat a balanced diet that will prime you for your workouts and assist you with your goals.
- Supplement appropriately to fill gaps in your nutrition and allow you to train with the focus you need to fuel results.
Do you have any other myths you’d like to bust for other readers? List them in the comments section below!
- Raghunathan, Rajagopal, Rebecca Walker Naylor, and Wayne D. Hoyer. "The Unhealthy = Tasty Intuition and Its Effects on Taste Inferences, Enjoyment, and Choice of Food Products." Journal of Marketing 70.4 (2006): 170-84. Web.
- Improvement of Insulin Sensitivity by Isoenergy High Carbohydrate Traditional Asian Diet: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Feasibility Study
- Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity among Patients Perceiving Gluten-Related Symptoms
- Kennedy, J.F. (1960) The soft american. Sports Illustrated. 13:15-17.
- Brose, A., G. Parise, and M. A. Tarnopolsky. "Creatine Supplementation Enhances Isometric Strength and Body Composition Improvements Following Strength Exercise Training in Older Adults." The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 58.1 (2003): n. pag. Web.
- Leidy, Heather J., Nadine S. Carnell, Richard D. Mattes, and Wayne W. Campbell. "Higher Protein Intake Preserves Lean Mass and Satiety with Weight Loss in Pre-obese and Obese Women*." Obesity 15.2 (2007): 421-29. Web.