11 Nutrition Myths That Cause Weight Gain

Losing weight is a journey, a confusing one at that. End the confusion with these myth-busting tips from Shape!

1. Going vegan is a healthy way to lose weight.

“While various research shows that vegetarians and vegans, on average, consume fewer calories and less fat than omnivores (a 2009 Oxford study found that vegetarians weigh 3 to 20 percent less than their meat-eating counterparts, and a National Cancer Institute study found that subjects who consumed four ounces or more of red meat weekly were 30 percent more likely to die of any cause than those who ate less), these numbers may be misleading,” says Rania Batayneh, MPH, a certified nutritionist and owner of Essential Nutrition for You.

Going vegan solely for weight loss can backfire, big time. If you aren’t vigilant with a vegan diet, it’s easy to lack in vital nutrients, vitamins, and proteins, which give you energy and help keep your metabolism stoked. Many first-time vegans may also find themselves reaching for more processed foods like vegan cookies, chips, or even ‘ice cream’ more often with such a restricted diet, and many end up packing on the pounds instead.

If you do decide to adopt a vegan diet, be sure to keep the ‘treats’ to a minimum and plan balanced meals. “Aim to get about 10 to 20 percent of your calories from protein (or about 1 gram per kilogram of body weight), replacing animal protein with healthy plant proteins, like those found in beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and soy products,” Batayneh says. “And, whether you are vegan or not, eating more green, leafy vegetables is great for your health and your waistline.”

2. Cut all carbs to shed pounds.
Your body needs ‘carbs’ for energy, and many carbohydrate foods are rich in essential vitamins, nutrients, and dietary fiber that help you stay full and fuel your workouts. “Eliminating carbohydrates not only reduces whole grains, B vitamins, and a good source of fiber, but it also reduces your body’s feel-good capacity (it’s no wonder that most comfort foods are carbohydrate based),” Batayneh says.

Plus, cutting out food groups may only make you crave them more, and you may find yourself finishing off an entire bag of chips in a moment of weakness. “Starches and carbs are actually an important tool in weight management,” Batayneh says. “They provide belly-filling fiber, complex carbohydrates to keep your engine running all day, and they stimulate the production of serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter that regulates mood.”

Stay healthy, full, and happy while dropping the lbs. by swapping out processed carbs for fiber- and nutrition-filled foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

3. Diet drinks are a good way to cut calories.
You may think you’re doing yourself a favor by sipping artificially sweetened drinks, but recent research says you may just be setting yourself up to crave sweets even more. ‘Fake’ sugar can trick our bodies, since we aren’t actually providing it with any calories to back up the sweetness, causing a vicious cycle of cravings. “Artificial sweeteners tend to trigger your appetite, making you want more and more sugar, but without actually satisfying a desire for sweets like normal sugar does,” Batayneh says. “Diet soda-drinkers may end up eating tons of sugary and fatty snacks in order to satisfy their cravings.”

Case in point: One University of Texas study found that people who drink diet soda regularly (more than two per day) had a 70 percent greater waist circumference than those that don’t. Not to mention, diet sodas are also often loaded with additives, including caramel coloring, which is made by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites, resulting in two compounds that have been found to cause lung, liver, and thyroid cancers in mice, Batayneh says.

4. Fat-free snacks are better for your waistline.
“Reduced-fat versions of snacks typically have been stripped of one quarter of their original healthy monounsaturated fats, and to replace that flavor, the brand adds in fillings, additives, and sugar — all for the same amount of calories,” Batayneh says. “Picking reduced-fat products may even end up hurting your waistline: in one study, average-weight participants ate 22 percent more calories if the food was labeled ‘low fat’ and overweight participants ate up to 50 percent more.”

Your body needs fat to absorb vitamins, and it may also help you shed pounds — a recent Stanford University study found that people on a moderate-fat diet lost twice as much weight as subjects eating a low fat diet.

So skip the highly processed, fat-free snacks that are basically empty calories and fill up on healthy, whole foods that will help you stay satisfied on a lower-calorie diet such as avocados, nuts, and coconuts.

5. Fruit has too much sugar to be healthy for weight loss.
With all the sugar that is added to processed foods, the sugar in fruit is the least of your worries. Getting rid of fruit means you are losing out on valuable vitamins and nutrients that your body absorbs easily since they’re found in their natural, whole state.

“Eliminating fruit from your diet when trying to lose weight makes no sense,” Batayneh says. You’ll miss out on a whole lot of filling fiber, which studies have directly linked to long-term weight loss, and you may be more likely to reach for other processed, empty food items instead.

6. Protein shakes will help you lose weight.
Drinking protein shakes alone can’t help you lose weight, but replacing a meal with them could. The trouble is, many would-be dieters make the mistake of adding in a shake to their current daily intake, which can pack on the pounds (this is why bodybuilders trying to gain size use them often).

If you want to add protein shakes to your diet, look for a mix that is low in sugar and has a short ingredient list. Depending on the calorie count, and what you add to it (Batayneh recommends whey protein, milk, and fruit), you can substitute a shake for a snack or a meal to help move the scale down, not up.

7. A high-protein diet is the best way to shed fat.
While protein is important for weight loss, eliminating other food groups (like carbs) for the sake of eating more protein could be setting you up for a carbo-loading binge later. Plus, you may be missing out on the fiber, vitamins, and minerals found in unprocessed carbohydrates, and you run the risk of eating too much fat in your diet, which can lead to high cholesterol and triglycerides, Batayneh says.

Skip the yo-yo cycle and round out your meals with a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. “When you have all three macro-nutrients in your diet, you are less likely to feel deprived and may experience less cravings.”

8. Swear off all your favorite fattening foods to lose weight.
Anyone who has ever sworn off pizza, chocolate, or chips knows that as soon as you tell yourself you can’t have them, you start dreaming of swimming in gooey, cheesy pizza or rich, dark chocolate cake. “Moderation is key. We tend to be in ‘all or nothing’ mode when we diet. And while you can’t have pizza, french fries, and chocolate cake all in the same day, with careful planning, you can still enjoy them in moderation,” Batayneh says. Have your cake, and eat it too — just share it with a friend or save the other half for another day.

9. Eating after 8 p.m. makes you fat.
Eating after a certain hour won’t necessarily mean you’ll pack on pounds, just as staying out after midnight won’t turn you into a pumpkin. This Cinderella-esque fat fairy tale continues to exist, but the bottom line is that your metabolism doesn’t know what time it is, Batayneh says.
Skip the mad rush to consume as much food as you can before the clock strikes 8:00.

“Calories are calories, no matter when you eat them, but what does matter is what and how much of it you eat. Late-night snacking gets a bad rap because often the foods that are consumed late at night are calorie-dense foods (chips, ice cream, pizza, and other junk food) and may be in excess calories to your daily caloric needs, which translates to weight gain.”

10. You’ll burn more fat if you don’t eat before a workout.
Exercise normally burns away your glycogen (carbohydrate) reserves, and when you’re done burning those, you’ll start dipping into your fat stores for energy. It’s true that when you’re already running on empty, you burn fat right away, but you’ll likely run out of steam before your workout is over or end up ravenous and grabbing whatever food you can find in an attempt to refuel afterwards, Batayneh says.

“Energy comes from calories. A study from the University of Birmingham compared two groups of cyclists — some ate before their workout and the others fasted. While the group who fasted did end up burning more fat, the group who ate cycled at a much higher intensity than the fasting group, and burned more calories. A person needs fuel to run, just like a car, so find the foods that give you the energy to work out at your hardest.”

11. You can eat whatever you want on weekends.
If you do the math, eating ‘whatever you want’ Friday-Sunday adds up to 12 days, or almost half of a 30-day month! Not exactly the recipe for weight loss success. “When you throw caution to the wind on the weekends it can actually offset the consistency and success you had all week,” Batayneh says. Instead of taking a no-holds-barred approach to your weekends, Batayneh recommends trying to scale back the little things that really add up like the bread basket and having a few extra glasses of wine during dinners out, along with mindless munching out of boredom.

The hidden health hazards in workout supplements

Dr Simon Hendel | Jan 19 2017Finally – it’s sun’s out, guns out season.

But with more and more men striving for that perfectly shredded beach bod, many are resorting to supplements to achieve it. But while mates might not let you forget leg days, real friends remind to find out whether the supplements you’re using are actually safe.

The industry is completely unregulated

Sports and exercise physician, Dr Krishant Naidu has had patients ask him for everything from caffeine to human growth hormone and anabolic steroids as they strive to get bigger.

You may think over-the-counter supplements are far less dangerous than anabolic steroids, but Dr Naidu says the real problem is the total lack of industry regulation. To put it simply, the powder you mix for a pre-workout boost or an after-workout bulk-up isn’t necessarily what it says it is.

“Unlike pharmaceuticals, there’s no requirement for manufacturers to prove the safety of the supplements they sell,” he says. “Or even guarantee what’s in them.”

The great supplement heist

International manufacturers can have components mixed together in some chemical factory offshore and then send this to another factory for branding as an appealing wild-berry-flavoured workout product. And if you order these online they won’t go through any testing in Australia before you consume them.

On the other hand, supplements made in Australia are subject to “batch-testing” which means the risk of contamination is low and they’re likely to contain what they claim – making Australian products much safer to use, says Dr Naidu.

So if you are keen on taking some kind of supplement, either pre- or post-workout, at the very least go Australian made.

Even ones that work may cause health problems

Creatine is marketed to improve performance and there’s some evidence supporting its effectiveness. Although Dr Naidu stresses the research looking at creatine is limited.

And its use can cause serious kidney damage even in people with healthy kidneys – especially if you’re dehydrated.

Supplements containing protein and carbohydrate are commonly marketed to gym-goers to increase their energy and improve recovery.

Dr Naidu says there’s good quality evidence that taking carbohydrates and protein together, in the first 30 minutes after a workout, will provide the best conditions for muscle gain.

But, he says, there isn’t any compelling evidence that carbohydrates and protein from supplements are any more effective than from a good diet.

Secret stimulants

Still other supplements that claim to help “shredding” often contain stimulants not listed in the ingredients to aid weight loss, says Dr Naidu. And these are usually derivatives of the drug ephedrine that can place the heart under considerable stress – even if they do work to drive weight loss and improve muscle definition.

A dangerous addiction

Former gym devotee, Mina, 35, who doesn’t want his surname published, knows first hand the risks of using supplements.

His fitness motivation morphed from being healthy and fit to being driven by image, one where bigger was better.

Mina was using so many stimulant-based supplements that he needed ever-increasing doses for the same effect. He recalls regularly having to pull over on the way to the gym after taking pre-workout “supps” because he had tremors and heart palpitations.

“The older formulations were incredibly dangerous,” he says.

Focus on the real issues

Mina’s use of supplements and other aids was also a money pit. At his peak, he says he was spending more than $600 a fortnight – not including gym memberships.

He’s now completely off it all and says “not a single minute” was worth it.

Dr Naidu’s message to anyone considering adding in supplements as a boost to reach their end goal is simple: focus on your health, not your looks.

 

Big Sugar’s Secret Ally? Nutritionists

The first time the sugar industry felt compelled to “knock down reports that sugar is fattening,” as this newspaper put it, it was 1956. Papers had run a photograph of President Dwight D. Eisenhower sweetening his coffee with saccharin, with the news that his doctor had advised him to avoid sugar if he wanted to remain thin.

The industry responded with a national advertising campaign based on what it believed to be solid science. The ads explained that there was no such thing as a “fattening food”: “All foods supply calories and there is no difference between the calories that come from sugar or steak or grapefruit or ice cream.”

More than 60 years later, the sugar industry is still making the same argument, or at least paying researchers to do it for them. The stakes have changed, however, with a near tripling of the prevalence of obesity in the intervening decades and what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures reveal to be an almost unimaginable 655 percent increase in the percentage of Americans with diabetes diagnoses. When it comes to weight gain, the sugar industry and purveyors of sugary beverages still insist, a calorie is a calorie, regardless of its source, so guidelines that single out sugar as a dietary evil are not evidence-based.

Surprisingly, the scientific consensus is technically in agreement. It holds that obesity is caused “by a lack of energy balance,” as the National Institutes of Health website explains — in other words, by our taking in more calories than we expend. Hence, the primary, if not the only, way that foods can influence our body weight is through their caloric content

Another way to say this is that what we eat doesn’t matter; it’s only how much — just as the sugar industry would have us believe. A 2014 article in an American Diabetes Association journal phrased the situation this way: “There is no clear or convincing evidence that any dietary or added sugar has a unique or detrimental impact relative to any other source of calories on the development of obesity or diabetes.”

The absence of evidence, though, as the saying goes, is not necessarily evidence of absence. If the research community had been doing its job and not assuming since the 1920s that a calorie is a calorie, perhaps we would have found such evidence long ago.

The assumption ignores decades of medical science, including much of what has become textbook endocrinology (the science of hormones and hormone-related diseases) and biochemistry. By the 1960s, researchers in these fields had clearly demonstrated that different carbohydrates, like glucose and fructose, are metabolized differently, leading to different hormonal and physiological responses, and that fat accumulation and metabolism were influenced profoundly by these hormones. The unique composition of sugar — half glucose, half fructose — made it a suspect of particular interest even then.

The takeaway is that we should expect the consumption of different macronutrients to have differential effects on the hormonal milieu of our cells and so, among myriad other things, on how much fat we accumulate. These effects may be very subtle, but subtle effects can accumulate over a few years or decades into the anything-but-subtle phenomena of obesity and diabetes. In light of this research, arguing today that your body fat responds to everything you eat the exact same way is almost inconceivably naïve.

But don’t blame the sugar industry for perpetuating this view. Blame the researchers and the nutrition authorities.

The industry is in a perverse position: defending the core beliefs of nutrition and obesity research while simultaneously being accused by some of the prominent experts in these disciplines of following the tobacco-industry playbook and so acting as “merchants of doubt.” If this sounds like cognitive dissonance — well, it is.

I am a fierce critic of sugar and believe that it, in fact, may have prematurely killed more people than tobacco. The disorders for which it is the prime suspect — obesity and Type 2 diabetes — in turn elevate our risk of virtually every major chronic disease, from heart disease to cancer and Alzheimer’s. And yet on this issue, I think the sugar industry has a fair point in rejecting the comparison.

Cigarette companies are notorious for having worked to undermine the scientific consensus on tobacco, which was backed by compelling evidence. Tobacco executives knew as well as public health officials that nicotine was addictive and that smoking caused lung cancer. But the evidence implicating sugar as a unique cause of chronic disease has never been nearly so convincing. More to the point, the consensus among nutrition and obesity authorities has been completely aligned with sugar industry interests: Sugar advertisers have had to remind people only that what nutrition authorities believe to be true of all foods is therefore true of sugar as well.

So can we really blame sugar companies for seeking to rebut the contention of some nutrition researchers — that sugar might be a unique cause of diabetes and heart disease — by commissioning other mainstream nutritionists to make the opposite case? In the 1970s, when the industry paid Fred Stare, founder of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health, to exonerate sugar in a lengthy journal supplement, “Sugar in the Diet of Man, all Mr. Stare had to do was enlist as authors some of the very influential researchers who were convinced that dietary fat was the real enemy (the conventional wisdom of the time that has now been largely overturned). No confusion needed to be sown. Their task was simply to reinforce the consensus.

“The method of science,” as the philosopher of science Karl Popper once put it, “is the method of bold conjectures and ingenious and severe attempts to refute them.” In nutrition, the conjectures (their boldness is debatable) are that obesity is caused by lack of energy balance, and so a calorie is a calorie. But they have been accepted with such faith that attempts to refute them have been anything but ingenious and severe. That the attempts have failed may speak more to the quality of the science than the validity of the conjectures. To fully understand the dangers of consuming sugar, we need experiments, in humans, that can unambiguously test these 100-year-old conjectures. No matter how time consuming or expensive these studies are.

To the sugar industry, the nutritionists’ dogmatic belief that obesity is a calorie overconsumption problem and a calorie is a calorie has been the gift that keeps on giving. So long as nutrition and obesity authorities insist that this is true, then the sugar industry can rightfully defend its product on the basis that the calories from sugar are no better nor worse than those from steak or grapefruit or ice cream — perhaps even kale or quinoa. We can’t have it both ways.

Gary Taubes is a co-founder of the Nutrition Science Initiative and the author of “The Case Against Sugar.”

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A version of this op-ed appears in print on January 15, 2017, on Page SR3 of the New York edition with the headline: Big Sugar’s Secret Ally? Nutritionists. Today’s Paper|Subscribe

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Stay Healthy With 8 Home Remedies For Cold And Debunked Myths

A plethora of myths surround do-it-yourself sickness secrets, and while some hold true, many are made up. One of the most popular is advice not to touch any dairy products when a cold hits because it’ll produce more mucus, but there’s no medical basis for this assumption. In fact, a cup of ice cream can soothe your throat or even get some calories into you when you don’t want to eat.

Another tale is that sickness spreads the quickest before symptoms even show up — not true. You’re at your most contagious two to four days after exposure, which is at the beginning of a sickness when you first start showing symptoms. Stay at home as soon as you start feeling under the weather and don’t wait until you’ve spread germs around the office to catch up on some rest.

Speaking of rest, while relaxation is important for the body’s immune system to work at optimal capacity, you should still try and squeeze in 30 minutes of exercise. Rigorous workouts at the gym won’t help you, but studies have shown those who allotted half an hour of moderate exercise felt better in the evenings than those who just laid around in bed all day.

8 EVIDENCE-BASED REMEDIES THAT ACTUALLY WORK

  1. Chicken Soup: The classic go-to by mothers and grandmothers everywhere, soup has true healing powers. Its creates an anti-inflammatory impact by slowing down the movement of neutrophils. This will decrease the chances of cells collecting in the lungs and ultimately relieve you of congestion.
  2. Eat Healthy: Nutrient-rich food is key to boosting the body’s immune system by flooding it with dietary nutrients. A healthy balanced meal can increase gamma interferon, which is essential for immunity and viral and bacterial infections.
  3. Apple A Day: Apple cider vinegar has been shown to fight off infections, but a few slices off an apple can attack common cold viruses. Just 100 grams of apple equal 1,500 mg of vitamin C. Bonus: peels are rich in flavonoids, which lowers the risk for heart disease.
  4. Vitamin C: Studies aren’t definitive on whether or not vitamin C can prevent or stop colds, but it has been proven to reduce the length of colds by increasing growth in T cells.
  5. Honey: Has been shown to be as effective as the over-the-counter common cough supplement dextromethorphan. Honey can fight lung infections thanks to increased activity, which releases inflammatory relief of cytokines in order to repair cells.
  6. Garlic: Not only does it decrease length and severity of flu symptoms, but it also stimulates the immune system. Garlic works best consumed raw, and has been shown to increase the growth of gamma delta T cells, which are able to locate infectious pathogens and remove them from the body.
  7. Echinacea: Taking this herbal remedy can help treat the common cold by up to 58 percent, and even reduce the life of the cold by 1.5 days. Taking about 900 mgs of extract twice a day should do the trick.
  8. Moderate Alcohol Consumption: Can help boost immune system and relax the body; however, it’s not recommended a sick person hit the bar. Drinking too much lowers the immune system’s defense and makes the body and those around a person susceptible to germs.

February 9, 2015 4:50 PM By

Five Female Fitness Myths Debunked by Science

In today’s guest article, Luke Briggs breaks down the most common myths in female fitness and backs it all up with science.

Luke is an equally talented writer and passionate coach who truly get the most out of every single one of his clients, and challenges the current fitness industry with new and innovative ideas.  Let me tell you, he doesn’t just write about training, he is an avid competitive powerlifter who truly walks the walk.

He has really put together an exhaustive list of the downright fallacies women have been burdened with in our industry.  So ladies AND gentleman, get ready to pay attention and take some notes. Time for Luke to set the record straight!

Here’s What You Need To Know…

1. Lifting weights won’t make women bulky, but it will make them strong, lean and healthy if you’re interested in that.

2. Save the pink dumbbells for a doorstop, ultra high rep training is a dead practice. Sticking to strategic rep ranges will build the body of your dreams.

3. Weight lifting is not inherently dangerous; being brutally weak is actually a more risky daily practice.

4. Cardio may help you lose weight, but that “weight” may be muscle mass, which can lead to the dreaded skinny fat appearance. Not exactly the long-term result you had in mind from your daily run.

5. Protein should be prioritized, and eating more with goals of building muscle won’t leave you fat and dumpy. It will help you stay satiated and recovering from training more effectively than ever.

The Female Fitness Industry

Step aside, guys! It’s time to share the squat rack. We are currently living in the new age of fitness. As men, you are no longer the only gender passionately pumping iron with goals of chiseling a strong physique that will turn a few heads while tossing around a few plates.

While men have traditionally dominated the global strength scene, the change is becoming blatantly clear; women are lifting, training and dominating the iron game more than every before. And no, it’s not just about toning up the muscles with pink dumbbells and yoga!

According to data from the National Health Interview Survey, the number of women who participate in strength training increased significantly from 1998 to 2004 (Kruger, Carlson and Kohl III 2006). Just think that was more than a decade ago, before the rise of CrossFit, The Glute Guy and our American obsession with the backside.

While it’s about damn time that more and more females are starting to prioritize strength, it’s a damn shame that droves of misinformation about women and strength training still exist.

Though zombie lies are as hard to kill as the monsters themselves, we need to set the record straight once and for all.

Here is where I stand on dispelling the five most heinous mainstreamed fallacies that the fitness industry force feeds down the throats of vulnerable women looking to improve their bodies and health.

#1 Lifting Weights Will Make You Bulky

trap bar deadlift

One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding females and strength training involves the notion that lifting weights will make them appear bulky.

Unless females take anabolic steroids or double their clean food intake, that simply won’t happen.

Hormones factor heavily in determining an individual’s size. According to Medline Plus, women naturally produce about only 5-7% as much testosterone as men.

That means men produce 14 to 20 times as much testosterone as women, so women won’t increase muscle mass at nearly the same rate unless they supplement with steroids or other performance enhancing drugs.

They can work at the same intensities as men and build lean, slender physiques like fitness models instead of massive bodybuilders. This is absolutely possible, but the bulk thing? Not so much.

According to a 2004 study by Dr. Andrew Fry, “In general, females do not exhibit as great an absolute hypertrophic response when compared with males, although relative gains may be similar” (Fry, 2004).

Ladies aren’t going to throw on big slabs of muscle even if they exert the same level of effort as men. Whether this is good or bad is for you to decide, but being informed of facts, not opinions or anecdotal case studies of one, is necessary.

If women want to build muscle while losing weight, they should focus on maintaining a negative energy balance and burning off more calories than they consume. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. And guess what? That same tip can be used for men! Who would have thought?

To take it to the next level, females should work on reducing stress and getting a requisite amount of sleep per night. Again, this is not rocket science, but it has been shown that getting decreased number of hours of sleep reduces anabolic hormone levels and increases catabolic hormone concentrations (Cook, Kilduff and Jones; 2004).

While the very word “anabolic” may scare some women, it’s actually an important hormone for building lean muscle and burning fat. You’re either building muscle or losing muscle, and you definitely don’t want to decrease muscle mass because muscle burns more calories than fat.

So if females want to remain lean, they had better prioritize staying in an anabolic state.

That means ladies should aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night and consume plenty of high quality, unprocessed foods like lean meats, vegetables, fruits and nuts. And yes, it can be that simple. Master the basics to move your goals forward.

#2 If You Want To Tone Muscle, Lift Light Weight For High Reps

lindsay bloom

Women need much more than five-pound pink dumbbells to build the bodies they desire.

If you don’t think women should lift heavy weights, take a trip to your local grocery store to find women of all types hauling massive grocery bags and lifting children over their shoulders.

First off, “heavy” is a relative term. What’s heavy for a 110-pound female will be different than what’s heavy for a 200-pound male.

A certain level of stress must be placed on the body’s muscles and joints in order to create adaptations to allow for lean muscle growth.

According to a recent research review by Brad Schoenfeld called The Mechanisms of Muscle Hypertrophy and their Applications to Resistance Training, “Intensity (i.e. load) has been shown to have a significant impact on muscle hypertrophy and is arguably the most important exercise variable for stimulating muscle growth (Schoenfeld, 2010).”

Schoenfeld also indicated, “The use of high repetitions has generally proven to be inferior to moderate and lower repetition ranges in eliciting increases in muscle hypertrophy.” And we’re talking lean, toned muscles.

It should be noted that women who use strictly high repetitions will develop sarcoplasmic hypertrophy, the build-up of non-contractile fluid in muscle cells. This type of training makes muscles appear puffy. Not exactly what you are shooting for, right ladies?

Most women probably prefer to build lean, dense muscle. In this case, they should use fewer reps to achieve myofibrillar hypertrophy, an actual increase in the size of the muscle fibers.

Since we’ve already established women won’t get big and bulky unless they take steroids or eat massive amounts of food, let’s discuss the rep ranges women should use.

The majority of women (and men, yeah you guys!) exercise mainly to improve their physiques, so they don’t necessarily need to perform one-, two-, or three-rep maxes like strength athletes.

Sticking between six and 12 reps should be sufficient for optimal lean muscle development, assuming you’re working at a maximal level of intensity.

Women should make sure to use compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, push-ups and pull-ups to stimulate their nervous systems to the highest degree.

#3 You’ll Get Hurt If You Lift Weights

lindsay bloom female

You may actually increase your chances of getting hurt if you don’t lift weights. Like my man Bret Contreras says, “If you think lifting weights is dangerous, try being weak. Being weak is dangerous.”

A lot of females possess great flexibility, but lack stability. According to a 2012 report from the University of Colorado Hospital, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries are four to six times more likely to happen in women than men (Osborne, 2012).

ACL injuries are more likely to occur in sports that involve jumping and changing of direction, so improving core stability and developing greater strength in the posterior chain can assist in reducing the possibility of injury.

While it’s important to have some level of flexibility, women who focus solely on stretching-based routines like yoga are short-changing themselves.

According to a 2012 study published in Yoga Journal, more than 82 percent of the 20.4 million yoga practitioners in the United States are female (Yoga Journal, 2012). The point isn’t to entice the guys to sign up for stretch class, but to put a number on the popularity of fitness fads.

Yoga is certainly a wonderful practice, and many women who are already flexible are naturally attracted to it because it’s something with which they’re going to have success. On the other hand, men tend to stick to weight lifting because they’re stronger and have more muscle mass than women. Perhaps many of them would benefit from doing more yoga.

Women can certainly get hurt lifting weights. Men can too.

Attempting to squat or deadlift under heavy load without proper form is a recipe for disaster.

That’s why; if you’re not confident with your form, seek out a qualified professional to learn proper exercise technique. You can then make sure you’re performing the proper progression for each exercise and you’re focusing on quality movement and form and build a foundation of strength to work towards for the long term.

Once you’ve gained confidence in your ability to complete a lift with perfect technique, you’ll be able to increase the weight without worry.

And who knows? Maybe you’ll start putting some men to shame with the amount of weight you have on the bar. No shame in showing up the boys every now and then!

As long as all of the movements are being performed correctly, adding in some form of resistance training is highly beneficial for females from an injury prevention standpoint. Start slow, master your movement, and you will progress faster than you would have ever dreamed.

#4 You Need To Focus On Cardio To Get Lean

lindsay bloom dr john rusin

Just about all of us have walked into a commercial gym to find dozens of exercisers on a treadmill or elliptical moving at a slow and steady pace for prolonged periods of time in an attempt to burn fat.

While there’s no question cardiovascular exercise can help you lose fat, you would be remiss to ignore strength training.

If you focus only on cardio, you’ll likely lose weight if you ensure your diet and recovery are also on point, but you’ll lose muscle if you don’t engage in resistance training.

Having more muscle speeds up your metabolism because it burns calories at a faster rate than fat. If you perform too much cardio, you can actually lose muscle. That is worth repeating, but I’ll save you the burden.

According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association, “Chronic, high-volume running creates a catabolic response that can lead to muscle degradation and reduction in power (Campbell and Spano, 131).” In case you read that quickly, this is not a good thing.

If improving body composition is your goal, it’s important to incorporate, if not prioritize weight training and other exercise methods that involve working at high intensities for shorter periods of time to place your body in an anabolic state.

Protein synthesis is elevated after bouts of strength training and can remain elevated for up to two full days following your workout (Campbell and Spano, 100).

For strictly aesthetic-based goals, ladies should implement at least two or three strength-training workouts and a couple of high-intensity interval routines each week.

Steady-state cardio is OK to use occasionally, but it shouldn’t be the main focus of any exercise regimen focusing on physical appearance. This can even be said for the high level triathletes I train on a daily basis.

Ultimately, women must have a negative energy balance to lose weight, so they must make sure diet and recovery are up to par first before focusing on exercise methods. You certainly can’t out-train a bad diet, no matter how hard you train. Sorry to burst your bubble!

#5 You’ll Get Fat If You Eat Too Much Protein

lindsay bloom rusin

Exercise is important, but your diet will have a much greater impact on your physique and your health for that matter.

Making sure you have a good balance of all your macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate, fat) and micronutrients (vitamins, minerals) is essential.

Protein is often talked about among men looking to bulk up, but it’s equally as important for women seeking to burn fat. Protein supports muscle and tissue growth, so it’s essential for the development of lean muscle mass, which elevates metabolism.

The Center for Disease Control recommends 56 grams of protein per day for men and 46 grams for women. But recommendations you find on food labels are generally for sedentary individuals.

Women who are active need more protein even if their goals are to lose weight and body fat.

The National Strength and Conditioning Association recommends you consume between one and one-half and two grams per kilogram of body weight per day and to “maintain or slightly increase protein intake…when following a hypocaloric diet (Campbell and Spano, 192).”

So even if you’re only a 50-kilogram (110-pound) female, you should still take in between 75 and 100 grams of protein each and every day.

Also, eating protein can help you eat fewer calories overall because protein has a high thermic effect of food. It requires more energy for the body to digest than the other macronutrients.

Think about it. Have you ever eaten a piece of steak before and felt stuffed? The portion you ate was probably only a couple hundred calories at most.

You’ve probably also eaten a large bag of potato chips and still felt hungry. That bag could have been more than 1,000 calories, but because chips are mostly carbohydrates, your body processed them really quickly.

Precision Nutrition, among the world leaders in nutrition coaching, recommends females have one palm-sized serving of protein with each meal. You should be able to fit about 20 to 30 grams of protein in your palm. If you have three meals, that’s a total of 60 to 90 grams.

So, ladies, start getting in more protein if you want to build your dream body. And skip the potato chips while you’re at it!

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*All images were provided by Lindsay Bloom- Business Manger of John Rusin Fitness Systems, LLC

About The Author

luke briggs

Luke Briggs is a strength coach, powerlifter and former full time print journalist.  Luke is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association who also holds a bachelor’s degree from the prestigious University of Wisconsin’s school of journalism. Luke’s vision is to help people around the world build muscle, burn fat, get stronger and become the best versions of themselves.  With his background in print journalism, he combines his writing skills, knowledge of fitness and personal training experience to be the best possible resource for you to reach all of your strength and physique goals.

Visit Luke at  Luke Briggs Fitness

REFERENCES: 

Baechle, Thomas R., and Roger W. Earle. “Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning.” Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2008. Print.

Campbell, Bill I., and Marie A. Spano. “NSCA’s Guide to Sport and Exercise Nutrition.” Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2011. Print.

Cook, Christian J., Liam P. Kilduff, and Marc R. Jones. “Recovering Effectively in High-Performance Sports.” High-Performance Training for Sports. N.p.: Human Kinetics, 2014. 325. Print.

Fry, Andrew C. “The Role of Resistance Training Intensity on Muscle Fibre Adaptations.” Sports Med 34.10 (2004): 663-78. Web. Female Fitness

Kruger, J., S. Carlson and H. Kohl, III. “Trends in Strength Training – United States, 1998-2004.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 July 2006. Web.

Osborne, Maria. “Why Do Females Injure Their Knees Four to Six Times More Than Men…And What Can You Do About It?” University of Colorado Health (2012): 1-6. University of Colorado-Denver. Female Fitness Web.

Schoenfeld, Brad J. “The Mechanisms of Muscle Hypertrophy and Their Application to Resistance Training.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 24 (2010): 2857-872. Web. Female Fitness

Yoga Journal. “New Study Finds More Than 20 Million Yogis in U.S. – Yoga Journal.” Yoga Journal. N.p., 05 Dec. 2012. Web. Female Fitness

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