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Top 10 Health & Fitness Myths Debunked

Written by: Nick Jack
Category: 2014
on 25 May 2021
Hits: 2233

It is fair to say the community is much more aware of the benefits of healthy eating and exercise than say 20-30 years ago. The explosion of wellness as a mainstream trend has seen great positive changes with hundreds of gyms, Pilates and Yoga studios opening and even healthier fast food restaurants and menus at restaurants now part of the mainstream. I remember when I was 20 there was only 2 gyms near where I lived whereas now there would be over 100 gyms! Unfortunately, this interest in our health and wellness has also opened the floodgates for unreliable and false information, especially when we talk about diet and fitness. There is so much information floating around about nutrition and exercise, that it’s sometimes hard to discern fact from myth. And unfortunately for many of us, hearing is believing. Having been a trainer for over 16 years I have had to explain the truth about many of these myths to people on multiple occasions. I have seen how many people have been getting nowhere with their health and fitness efforts for the simple reason they based their plan entirely on poor information. In this article, I am going to look at 10 of the myths I often spend the most time explaining to people and help you avoid the trap so many others fall into.

It found it quite interesting how many myths I regularly talk about. Originally I thought I would struggle to come up with 5 or 6 but as it turned out I was able to easily think of 20! I didn't realize how many of these misleading stories there actually was until I wrote them down. When I researched around I found there was even more than I thought.

A survey conducted by Fit Rated asked 1,000 Americans about their gym activities and quizzed them on the most common health myths. It turns out, we may not be as informed as we think. Take a look at the picture below to see the results of their survey.

It is no surprise to see so many people struggle to achieve great results with their health and fitness when they have a poor understanding of what to do and their plan is based on false information. I will not go into great detail for all the myths listed above as this article would be close to 20,000 words long. Instead, I will provide you with some links to various pages that expand upon the short information I provide so you can investigate further into the area that relates to you.

Let’s start with the first myth which is something I talk about almost every day.

Myth 1 - Stretching Before Exercise Prevents Injury

Most martial arts and athlete training programs for weightlifters, gymnasts, and sprinters incorporate rigorous stretching routines as an integral part of their development. But what you will also never elite athletes do is complete a series of static stretches right before competing.

Why? It makes them perform poorly and increases chance of injury!

How ironic, as most of you would think it would prevent injury right? Research has proven that there is a significant reduction in muscle strength endurance after static muscle stretching. It makes no sense that if you are about to compete, and need to be at your strongest, that you would want to take the stage in a weakened state. 

What you see instead, is athletes use an extended warm up to prepare the muscles and joints for the upcoming competition.

What Does The Science Say?

There is really two mechanisms may explain why pre-exercise stretching is detrimental to performance.

  1. Firstly, stretching damages the contractile proteins in skeletal muscle.
  2. Secondly, stretching reduces one’s ability to recruit skeletal muscle.

Skeletal muscle contains thick filaments and thin filaments that are connected by cross-bridges. When a nerve signal reaches the muscles, the thin filaments slide over the thick filaments. However, movement cannot occur if the cross bridges between the filaments are broken during static stretching. The nerve signals that initiate muscle contraction are electrical in nature. Thus, electrodes can be used to monitor muscle activity. In humans, such studies have shown that muscle activity and force production are reduced after stretching.

Research suggests that stretching produces some kind of neural inhibition that is detrimental to performance. This research is supported by a study showing that balance and reaction time are also impaired after static stretching.

What does all that jargon mean in simple language? It basically means that stretching weakens the nervous system which weakens the muscles and everything from coordination, balance, speed, strength and power is diminished for a period of time straight afterwards.

What you should do is spend time WARMING UP! The use of dynamic stretching is encouraged and research shows that this has a much greater effect on preventing injury than static stretching.

You can read more about this in the two articles shown in the links below

Myth 2 – Cardio Is Best For Weight Loss

Most people believe that the key to losing fat and getting in shape is to spend lots of time doing long slow cardio sessions. If you don’t get a sweat then it is not a good workout!

But what I will show you here will change your idea on weight loss completely and begin to explain why you have never found a program that works for you before. You see it is at this point where most programs begin to fail, and especially if you are a person who has tried many diets and been on the Yo-yo of exercise and food habits.

Someone who has had weight problems all their life there is already a great deal of inflammation in the body that need to be balanced and restored to their "normal" level. By ignoring these signals and just trying to sweat yourself into shape is doomed. These, long, slow and boring cardio sessions will actually train your body to store fat. When you spend 30, 40 or even 50 minutes grinding out cardio sessions, you send your body a powerful signal to start storing fat instead of burning it. Why? Your Hormones are out of balance.

According to a study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, People who performed intense cardio suffered from decreased T3 hormone production. (Eur J Appl Physiol. 2003 Jan; 88(4-5):480-4.) T3 is the hormone produced by your thyroid to burn fat.

When you do cardio, your body reacts to the stress by suppressing this fat burning hormone. This means your body starts gaining fat straight away for the body needs the fat in order to function. And on top of all this this excessive cardio also puts massive amounts of stress on your body by increasing the stress hormone cortisol. Excess cortisol is associated with illnesses like adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue, depression and even more deadly diseases like heart disease, cancer and visceral belly fat.

Last but not least, you now need to eat more food, putting yourself at risk of giving in to sugar cravings and eating food to refuel what you lost. During long, slow and boring cardio – your appetite also increases in order to replace the energy it has lost and restore blood sugar levels back to normal as they have been dramatically reduced. The quickest way to restore blood sugar back to normal is to eat..... SUGAR.

And eating sugar is the quickest way to make you fat, and develop a disease.

What should you do?

Well you can still use cardio but it should be used to complement your strength training program.

Strength training is a much better choice as it stimulates the growth hormones and increases muscle mass. The muscles of people who regularly lift weights absorb blood sugar in response to insulin much more effectively helping the pancreas to secrete lower amounts of this hormone. There is so much more to muscle than looking good in a mirror.

Here is a just a short list of the various benefits of using a strength training program to add muscle.

  1. Muscle is the biggest influence on your metabolic rate. The more you have the faster your metabolism and the easier it is to lose weight
  2. Muscle regulates hormones and prevents disease like cancer which is often caused from insulin resistance
  3. Muscle improves bone density and prevents bone fractures, osteoporosis, sarcopenia, and can even reverse osteoarthritis.
  4. Muscle prevents injury and improves stability across all joints
  5. Muscle improves sporting performance by increasing speed and power.

None of these things are improved from a cardio training program. They will improve slightly but not to the level they need to be for dramatic improvement and overall health. Read the article in the link below to see more on this.

Myth 3 – Eggs Are Bad for Your Cholesterol

There is a lot of concern with how eggs affect your cholesterol or that they are too high in fat and many of these assumptions are based on poor information from many years ago that has since been debunked. Where did all this confusion begin?

In the 1980’s eggs were demonised by health authorities because the yolk had a high cholesterol content as the belief was if you eat cholesterol you will get high cholesterol. As a result we were told to watch our consumption, which saw the advent of egg white omelettes and other bizarre ideas to avoid eating high cholesterol. (Most people don’t know that crabs, prawns and other crustaceans have almost the same cholesterol content!)

I highly suggest reading our detailed article about cholesterol called Why We Need Cholesterol to be Healthy to gain a better understanding of the real reasons behind cholesterol being out of balance.

By 1999 studies were completed that suggested that while eggs contained high cholesterol, there was absolutely no correlation with eggs and heart disease. There have been several trials since that prove you were no more likely to have heart disease if you ate more than an egg a day than if you ate an egg a week!

Based on current evidence from the Heart Foundation, the relationship between eggs and heart health is neutral.  So this means that eggs neither increase nor decrease the risk of heart disease in most people. I eat eggs most days, I add them to meals and have them also as a healthy snack option and I would rather eat an egg than junk food any day. The funny thing that I find though is that our society seems to have no problem consuming junk food and seems to not be concerned with the quantity of junk food that they consume. And the serious health risks created from these foods is much greater than eating a boiled egg every day!

There is some great information found on the Australian Egg website I suggest to check out. The main part that I found interesting from this website was the latest Heart Foundation guidelines have no limit on how many eggs people should have on average, and that healthy people can eat eggs. The Heart Foundation guidelines also state that eggs have almost no effect on blood cholesterol levels and recommend regular egg consumption as part of a diet that is rich in whole foods and low in saturated fats. Click here to see the research.

Another great study to back up the Heart Foundation was that the CSIRO research has also shown that eggs are safe to eat on a daily basis. It was interesting to read that the CSIRO conducted a range of research, both in clinical trials and in a survey of more than 84,000 Australians, and found that egg consumption is actually linked to a number of positive health outcomes.

Here is 6 reasons why the humble egg is so good for us and should be included in your diet:

  1. High in protein
  2. Packed with vitamins & minerals, for example Vitamin D, A & E
  3. Contains folate
  4. A source of Omega 3
  5. Filling and can help with weight loss
  6. Raises levels of GOOD cholesterol

You can read more about eggs in the article in the link below

Myth 4 – Your Knees Must Not Go Over Your Toes When You Squat

This is one of those myths that has stood the test of time and is still being taught to many trainers, sports coaches and even some therapists. I don't know where this originally came from, but the belief behind this thinking is that letting your knees go over your toes when you squat, places tremendous pressure in the knee joint and will cause damage and eventually an injury.

Not only is this not true, it actually is contributing to pain and problems elsewhere in the body by adopting this terrible method of squatting. If you watch elite weightlifters competing you will see their knees always go over their toes, and the taller they are the further they go. And not only do they not have knee pain, they have legs stronger than most people on the planet.

What causes knee pain has more to do with hip and foot mechanics combined with poor movement strategies that were either taught or learned from an early age. (See article Why the knee has nothing to do with knee pain)

This is a perfect visual of what the optimal alignment would be like for a back squat.


A back squat is where the bar is resting on the shoulders. Take a look at where the knees are positioned, over the toes right? Take a look at where the bar is and the dotted line drawn down towards the foot. This is called the joint axis and is placed perfectly between the two moment arms, of the knee and the hips. A moment arm is simply the length between a joint axis and the line of force acting on that joint. Every joint that is involved in an exercise has a moment arm.

The critical things to take note of is that the perfect balance of work between the two moment arms creates symmetry and perfect timing of the body to handle loads. There is many great things happening here.

This Is What Happens When You Squat With the Knees Going Over the Toes

  1. The Hip Moment Arm comprises the workload being completed by the posterior chain of the glutes and hamstrings. The glutes are the powerhouse or the engine room for lifting loads and they are in great position here to work.
  2. The Knee Moment Arm still has enough work to complete if the knees travel over the toes. This is where the workload is completed by the quadriceps, especially the VMO muscle that is critical for healthy knee and patella tracking.
  3. The spine is able to remain perfectly stable in neutral and avoid being compressed with either flexion or too much extension
  4. The neck is easily held in neutral as there is no need to tilt the head back in order to look straight ahead.
  5. The ankle receives great mobility to dorsiflex to provide the necessary angle for the squat to be completed.

This type of squat will be pain free and able to generate massive force to build strength and power.

Compare that to what happens with the squat with knees behind the toes.

In this squat there is several things that are potentially creating pain and dysfunction in the body. The squat itself may never hurt this person, but other movements will over time as they have become weakened or tighter to compensate for this faulty pattern.

  1. The Hip Moment Arm this time is taking almost all of the load on its own. But because the posterior chain has to cover so much of the joint it has to overstretch itself. When you stretch a muscle you weaken it. This makes the entire movement much weaker for remember I said the glutes are like the engine room of lifting. They are now in the most weakened position.
  2. The Knee Moment Arm is hardly getting any work to do at all. Now, over time if you continue to use this movement, they become weaker from never needing to be used. Even if you use leg extensions, lunges or other leg movements to strengthen your quads you will lose strength in this movement for strength is pattern specific. This will have huge potential problems for patella tracking, ITB friction and even ACL injuries from the quads becoming weak. Remember the VMO is an important knee stabilizer but it now is getting no work to do!
  3. The Spine is now being forced into flexion. Too much flexion creates disc bulges. Too much extension creates facet joint sprains, SIJ pain and many other spinal complications. Basically the spine is now forced to take some of the load for the legs are not able to evenly share the work.
  4. The Neck is forced to tilt back and excessively compress itself in order to look straight ahead. This can lead to neck strains and excessive tension.
  5. The Ankles begin to stiffen as they are no longer used to create the angle required for optimal movement. Stiff ankles can then disrupt the entire kinetic chain with movement and create injuries at all other joints.

Wow! Incredible isn't it just how a simple tip based on poor information can now create a multitude of problems.

Like I said earlier the squat itself will rarely have pain within it unless you force the person to squat full depth or with too much load. But often these people will have problems with other movements or weaknesses elsewhere in their body and completely unaware that the poor squat technique is contributing to their problem.

You can read more about this in this article.

Myth 5 – A Strong Core Prevents Back Pain

For many years now we have been convinced to believe that strong abs means a strong core, and will prevent back pain. Even therapists and Doctors have been known to prescribe planks and abdominal exercises to treat back pain with this same type of thinking. We must realise that strength of the abdominal muscles WILL NOT change the faulty movement that leads to injury and pain. Your body will instantly sacrifice any strength if it only knows how to move with the same dysfunctional movement it has always used. You must identify and change the faulty movement patterns linked to the injury to have any chance.

The main thing to understand is that the core is not just the muscles around the abdominal area.

The Core is a complex integration of small stabiliser muscles (the INNER UNIT) working together with large prime moving muscles (the OUTER UNIT) to produce movement.
These inner unit muscles attach to the body at the spine only, meaning that when they activate they generate little or no movement. They can only stabilise not move you. These muscles, TVA, Pelvic Floor, Diaphragm, and Multifidus are often the focus of clinical Pilates training with many researchers showing there is a delayed response with back pain sufferers. The TVA is classified as an "anticipatory muscle" meaning it is programmed to fire when it senses you are about to move, in order to stabilise the body.

Often with back pain this automatic sensory program is either delayed or does not occur at all leaving the person's spine vulnerable to problems. So you can see how people would come to the conclusion - "all I need to do is work these muscles to become stronger and everything is fixed!"

However, there are several problems with this type of thinking! Usually the body is hurt in a standing position, not a lying on your back position. Meaning that it is also using the outer unit muscles within complex motor programs all within a split second. But even more important than all of this is one huge player - The Brain!

The stabilizer muscles are not designed or know how to produce movement. And the large global muscles are not designed to create stability. To focus solely on only one area is a waste of time and potentially could ruin you. This is where the trick is, identifying which one is the main contributor to your problem, and secondly working out how to correct it WITHIN A MOVEMENT! And usually the movement that creates your pain is the one you need to work with the most!

"True core strength can only be developed using both inner unit and outer unit together in a standing position"

This is where you will now be training the inner unit, the outer unit but more importantly the Brain and the Nervous System

I have covered this topic so many times in many of our previous newsletters and I suggest to check out the articles below for detailed explanations of this.

Myth 6 – Strength Training Is Dangerous To Older Adults

When an older adult comes to see me for the first time they are often very stiff, lack confidence walking up and down stairs, balance is a huge problem, and they are noticeably weak, and they feel as if it is too late. Some are on powerful medication with damaging side-affects that are merely treating symptoms and speeding up their rate of disability.

The last thing they are thinking I am going to say that to help them I am going to teach them how to lift heavy dumbbells and complete exercises like barbell deadlifts. Most people would regard this as being too dangerous for older adults and that I am being reckless as a trainer. They would argue we should only give them resistance bands, do simple stretches and Yoga exercises and any strength work should be completed on a machine so they do not fall over.

In many cases older adults are often treated by society as it is too late and an inevitable part of getting old. But it is very important to realize that it is NEVER TOO LATE and that older adults are not merely the sum of their chronic diseases. And they should never be treated as such. Nor should it be assumed that just because they are older they are going to have a whole bag of disease conditions. They may, but they might not.

And I would argue it is dangerous NOT to teach them functional movements like squats, deadlifts, lunges and single leg stability. For once they lose the ability to complete these movements efficiently and with adequate strength disability is not far away. Sitting on chairs doing rubbish exercises with rubber bands will achieve absolutely nothing. You are making older adults worse with this kind of training.

When I talk to older people about the need to come and do some training with us, and they tell me they are too old, or they don’t need it, I ask them these questions.
Which of these two possible scenarios do you prefer?

  1. One, you live to 100 years but during the last 10 years you cannot care for yourself and must rely on family, aids, healthcare workers, etc.?
  2. Or two, you may only live to 85 or 90 years BUT they are fully capable and healthy right up until the day that they die suddenly in their sleep?

I have never had anyone yet choose option #1. They always choose #2.

And they only way to achieve this is by using functional movements and improving overall strength and stability. You can read more about this in the articles shown below where I provide many examples of methods and exercises with pictures and videos of actual clients.

Myth 7 – Saturated Fats Are Bad for You

As we saw with the eggs earlier this is another example of a food that is very misunderstood and has been incorrectly demonized by the media for a long time.

Firstly let’s get one thing clear - eating fat does not mean that you will get fat. You are much more likely to get fat from eating sugar and fructose than eating good fats. In fact, fats and oils are essential to optimal health as it is paramount to your survival.

"No one can have a fat free body and be healthy at the same time."

Each gram of dietary fat provides nine calories of energy for the body versus four calories for carbohydrates and proteins. Your body needs fats to build cells and manufacture key hormones.

Fat assists in the health of the brain and nervous system, as well as regulating immune responses, liver function, and proper thyroid and adrenal activity. Just as with all foods, however, you must consume high-quality fats and oils for your body to effectively use them.

In addition to helping provide structure and function to the body, one of the main reasons we need to eat fat is to absorb and use fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K. These vitamins do not dissolve in water and can only be absorbed from your small intestine in combination with fat. Without enough Vitamin K you would lack the ability to form blood clots and could suffer from instant bleeding! Deficiency in vitamin A can lead to blindness and infections.

Well I bet you are pleasantly surprised to find out you can start eating foods you may have been avoiding in the belief it makes you fat! When in fact it most likely would have done the exact opposite! But not all fats are good. There are some you must avoid as these will wreak havoc on your health and make you fat!

Procter and Gamble are one of the first who are attributed with the confusion who started marketing Crisco as a new kind of food -- the first commercially marketed trans-fat. Crisco was originally used to make candles and soap, but with electrification causing a decline in candle sales, and the temptation to sell their product as food was too great.

At the time butter and lard were the preferred cooking choices and had been used for generations so in order to generate more sales it was marketed as a healthier alternative to animal fats and more economical than butter. Within a short time of Procter and Gamble deciding to promote their product as a “healthier” all-vegetable-derived food had the sales of margarine increased from 1.2 million kgs in 1908 to 27.2 million kgs in 1912!

But the real killer of saturated fat began in 1953, when Dr. Ancel Keys published a paper comparing saturated fat intake and heart disease mortality. His theory turned out to have many holes in it, but the bad rap of saturated fat has continued ever since. Keys based his theory on a study of six countries, in which higher saturated fat intake equated to higher rates of heart disease.

However, he conveniently ignored data from 16 other countries that did not fit his theory. Had he chosen a different set of countries, the data would have shown that increasing the percent of calories from fat reduces the number of deaths from coronary heart disease. When you include all 22 countries for which data was available at the time of his study, you find that those who consume the highest percentage of saturated fat have the lowest risk of heart disease. Furthermore, many have now realized that it's the trans-fat found in margarine, vegetable shortening, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils that is the true villain, causing far more significant health problems than saturated fat ever could!

Fats fall into two groups; omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs.

  1. Omega-6 EFAs are readily available in grain products, meats and many commonly used cooking oils such as corn, safflower and sunflower.
  2. Omega-3 EFAs are found in leafy green vegetables, oily fish and free-range eggs and comparatively small quantities are available in walnuts and animal meats. The ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids in your diet is 1:4.

Good Fats to Include in Your Diet

  • Good sources of quality fat include:
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil/butter
  • Butter
  • Organic, grass-fed animal fats
  • Fish oil
  • Seeds (especially flax seeds)
  • Nuts (raw, organic)
  • Avocados

Fats to Avoid that we can label as Bad fats are:

  • Corn oil,
  • Soy oil
  • Canola oil
  • Safflower oil Sunflower oil
  • Fried foods.

These are the fats you need to avoid. Pretty much all processed foods are good to avoid if unsure. Most are full of the bad fats trans-fatty acids (TFAs). Structurally, trans-fatty acids are closer to plastic than fat. TFA consumption has been linked to heart disease and elevated cholesterol levels. These foods include margarine, mayonnaise, salad dressings, basically anything cooked with or in vegetable oils. These are the foods to avoid.

Eating good fats is also a great way to prevent food cravings that can easily sabotage your health and fitness efforts. When you eat too many carbohydrates your body gets a surge of glucose (sugar) and what goes up fast also comes down fast. When the glucose begins to suddenly crash your body wants to balance out the insulin and blood sugars by sending you a craving to eat more food. The food that is balances out this crash is what? You guessed it, SUGAR.

Fat helps to keep you satisfied for longer as it is a fuel source that burns slow. This is what the Keto diet is based upon and why it works so well for many people looking to get on top of their diet and eliminate the sugar addiction.

To see more about the various benefits I only briefly discussed here make sure you check out the articles below. Also the books "Nutrition & Physical Degeneration" by Weston A Price,  "Big Fat Lies" and "Eat Real Food" by David Gillespie will provide stacks of scientific proof that fat is actually good for you!

Myth 8 – Osteoarthritis Is Due To Old Age

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition of the joints, which over time become painfully inflamed. If you have joint degeneration without pain, the condition is known as osteoarthrosis. With both conditions there is deterioration of the joint ‘cartilage’ – a smooth substance that covers bone endings, allowing bones to glide over each other with minimal friction. Cartilage also cushions force as it is transmitted through the joints and when you have used it up, there is no way to create more!

Although osteoarthritis occurs in people of all ages, it is most common in people older than 65. Common risk factors include increasing age, obesity, previous joint injury, overuse of the joint, weak muscles, and genes.

  • One in two adults will develop symptoms of knee OA during their lives.
  • One in four adults will development symptoms of hip OA by age 85.
  • One in 12 people 60 years or older have hand OA.

Research on footballers and rugby players suggests that they are at increased risk of osteoarthritis around their knees, hips, and ankles during and after their playing careers. This risk is significantly increased if they have sustained an injury in those areas or a lack of stability that they ignored and compensated around.

But what about the person who never plays sport, how do you explain how they develop osteoarthritis? They may never have had any previous injury or the wear and tear from playing sports year in year out.

A great quote from Dr Evan Osar sums this is up.

"Osteoarthritis, more accurately described as degenerative joint disease, is just one manifestation of poor movement strategies and is not simply a process of getting older"- Dr Evan Osar

This means that osteoarthritis IS NOT caused by old age.

For if it was due to old age how do you explain the people who do not have osteoarthritis? Are they just lucky? The real reason we see osteoarthritis surface in older adults is that the length of time the person has spent moving poorly eventually ends up completely wearing and tearing the joints, cartilage, ligaments to a point where pain sets in.

Added on top of this is a lack of muscle and you now have the perfect recipe for unstable joints that create stiffness, osteoarthritis and eventually chronic pain! This is how a person who has never played sports before can suffer with pain from just activities of life like walking.


Learning to move correctly and improving overall functional strength will ensure you prevent the destruction of osteoarthritis and pain. We must not blame genetics, old age, or bad luck but look closely at the way we move. If you move poorly you will pay a price, it is just a matter of time.

Myth 9 – Lifting Weights Makes Girls Bulky

I covered this recently in our detailed article the 7 facts about health every women needs to know. It is near impossible for females to build muscle bulk like some males can. The reason for this is very simple. Women lack the single most important ingredient for “getting big”, which is TESTOSTERONE!

On average women have only 1/10th the amount of testosterone of a male and without this hormone it is impossible to build serious muscle size no matter how many weights you lift. Secondly you need a lot of time and you have to eat a massive amount of food to do this. Even guys who have much larger amount of testosterone struggle to gain muscle size for they cannot eat the extra surplus of food and lift weights every day to turn it into muscle.

Check out the infographic below for more details on this.

(insert infographic)

Over the past 16 years of having trained with well over 1000 different females I can say that ALL the girls who lifted serious loads actually shrunk in size, instead of bulking up. Their muscles had definition and their strength was incredible, but they did not get big like some guys can.

It is a real shame to see so many women avoid gym and lifting weights for fear of getting big. The marketing of this is myth still played upon in many areas of the fitness industry to encourage women to take part in various "easy" and more feminine methods. Unfortunately this is to the detriment of their health for the benefits of strength training for women cannot be overstated.

For more information read the articles below

I saved the best myth for last.

Myth 10 – Weight Loss Is All about Energy out Versus Energy In

The long held belief for many, and what we have been told to believe is true for weight loss, is that to lose weight it is all about energy in versus energy out. I remember being taught this in my Personal Training course and even being shown how to get my clients to use software like Calorie King to help people track how many calories they have eaten.

It is one of the biggest weight loss myths ever created and the source of frustration for so many people trying to lose weight, and unfortunately many so called weight loss experts, personal trainers and health practitioners still teach this ridiculous method. Which only adds to the confusion. What people must understand is that Calories are not created equal, the source of the calories is what is important.

Calories from fructose are of particular concern. Identical calorie counts from fructose or glucose, fructose and protein, or fructose and fat, will cause entirely different metabolic effects on a person's body. The reason for the difference in metabolic effects is largely because different nutrients provoke different hormonal responses, and those hormonal responses determine how much fat your body will accumulate and hold on to. This is why the idea that you can lose weight by counting calories simply doesn't work.

After fructose, refined sugars and grains are among the most excessively consumed foods that also promote weight gain and chronic disease. The long held belief that obesity is the end result of eating too much and exercising too little is simply not true. In some cases it is definitely a big part of it, but it is not the only thing.

Research by the likes of Dr. Richard Johnson clearly demonstrates that this is an exaggerated lie. Dr. Johnson places most of the blame on excessive fructose consumption, and his book "The Fat Switch" shatters the myth that obesity is the result of eating too many calories and not exercising enough. Many things influence how much energy is coming in vs going out.

What is frequently overlooked is your body's ability to burn fat as its primary fuel.

Due to insulin and leptin resistance, most people have impaired enzymes to burn fat! In order to actually gain a significant amount of weight, Dr. Johnson's research shows that you have to do two things:

  1. Block your sensation of fullness, and
  2. Impair your body's ability to burn fat by down regulating the enzymes responsible for metabolizing fat.

What this means is that in order for you to become severely overweight you must first become leptin resistant. Leptin is a hormone that helps you regulate your appetite. When your leptin levels rise, it signals your body that you're full, so you'll stop eating. Sugar (in particular fructose) is exceptionally effective at causing leptin resistance, and it's also very effective at blocking the burning of fat.

Now if you still don't believe that calorie counting is not the way to go then maybe
you will believe Weight Watchers! David Kirchoff, president of Weight Watchers, the world's largest diet company, recently said on their website:

"Calorie counting has become unhelpful. When we have a 100-calorie apple in one hand and a 100-calorie pack of cookies in the other, and we view them as being 'the same' because the calories are the same, it says everything that needs to be said about the limitations of just using calories in guiding food choices."

Kirchoff and Weight Watchers have eliminated the company's popular "Points" system, which encouraged dieters to lose weight by eating any foods as long as they kept the portions small. The new system tries to encourage dieters to consume more natural, less processed food.

And even when calorie restriction and counting does work in terms of losing weight, it is still not a good way to achieve optimal health. We must move beyond looking at weight loss as instantly being healthy.

"Someone can be a healthy weight range but extremely unhealthy as their body is deprived of essential vitamins and nutrients needed for optimal function of vital organs and bodily functions."

We need our food to provide these essential vitamins and nutrients. We must look at our food as more than just fuel or energy to do exercise as it is so much more than that. 

There is several problems with calorie counting that you must consider.

  1. You can’t really trust that the calorie (and macronutrient) numbers you see on food packages are accurate. The way they are calculated is surprisingly imprecise and inconsistent.
  2. Plus, even if food package numbers were precise, once the food is cooked, or chopped, or blended, the amount of energy available for digestion and absorption changes.
  3. Then there’s what happens once that food enters your body.
  4. Calorie burn estimates with trackers like Fitbit are also very imprecise.
  5. Your stress levels, your history of weight gain and dieting can all dramatically influence your body's calorie expenditure.

As you can see it is not as simple as knowing how many calories you’re taking in with food or burning up with exercise as this can fluctuate significantly due to several unique factors.

The old saying you are what you eat is vital, and learning to eat slowly will help you to avoid over-eating. A healthy diet combined with exercise will give your body every chance to find a healthy weight range without starving your body of necessary vitamins and minerals.

To read more about this topic read the articles below

Do You Need More Help?

I know I covered a lot of detail in this article and did not provide you with a clear direction to solve the various problems discussed. If you currently suffer with knee, or back problems you will find our online programs shown below a great resource that take you through all of the assessments and corrective exercises to get you back to full strength and out of pain. The heart health book provides detailed explanations of how to use nutrition methods to not just lose weight, but improve your immune function and overall vitality. 



Well that concludes our top 10 health and fitness myths article. I hope there was something in this that you learned today and can now apply to your own life that improves your health and fitness. Share this information with your friend and family and you will see just how many people hold onto these beliefs that are either holding them back from doing more, or worse, creating additional problems to their health and fitness.

Many people have great intentions to improve their health but when the apply methods that are doomed for failure they will never get very far. Having the right information goes a long way to getting the results you are looking for.

For more ideas and information on specific topics I may not have covered in detail be sure to check out our INDEX PAGE on the website that has over 200 of our best articles. These are all sorted into categories for quick reference so you can find what you are after more easily. And if you want to stay up to date with all our latest tips and methods you can subscribe to our FREE fortnightly newsletter by CLICKING HERE.

If you do need specific help with setting up an exercise and nutrition program please feel free to reach out to me for help by clicking the image below and we can set you up a free consultation to discuss how to get you started.

About The Author

Nick Jack is owner of No Regrets Personal Training and has over 16 years’ experience as a qualified Personal Trainer, Level 2 Rehabilitation trainer, CHEK practitioner, and Level 2 Sports conditioning Coach. Based in Melbourne Australia he specializes in providing solutions to injury and health problems for people of all ages using the latest methods of assessing movement and corrective exercise.


  • Movement - By Gray Cook
  • Corrective Exercise Solutions - by Evan Osar
  • Athletes Acceleration Speed Training & Game Like Speed - by Lee Taft
  • Diagnosis & Treatment Of Movement Impairment Syndromes - By Shirley Sahrman
  • Low Back Disorders - by Stuart McGill
  • Knee Injuries In Athletes - by Sports Injury Bulletin
  • The ACL Solution - by Robert G Marx
  • Understanding & Preventing Non-Contact ACL Injuries - American Orthopaedic Society For Sports Medicine
  • Anatomy Trains - by Thomas Meyers
  • Motor Learning and Performance - By Richard A Schmidt and Timothy D Lee
  • Assessment & Treatment Of Muscle Imbalance - By Vladimir Janda
  • Scientific Core Conditioning Correspondence Course - By Paul Chek
  • Advanced Program Design - By Paul Chek
  • Twist Conditioning Sports Strength - By Peter Twist
  • Twist Conditioning Sports Movement - By Peter Twist
  • Twist Conditioning Sports Balance - By Peter Twist
  • Heart foundation
  • Precision Nutrition 
  • Nutrition & Physical Degeneration - By Weston A Price
  • Big Fat Lies - By David Gillespie
  • How To Eat, Move & Be Healthy by Paul Chek