Let’s face it, the gym is an intimidating place. Take it from somebody who used to work in them. No matter which gym you attend, you will most likely find the same types of people: the quiet crowd, the chatty crowd, the cardio junkies, and the weight-lifting “grunters” (as I like to call them). The gym was especially intimating for me at first, a female hardly an inch over 5 feet tall. As I stared at myself in the mirror lifting 15-pound dumbbells next to the body builder, it became apparent how much work I had ahead of me. At some point, most gym attendees will ask themselves, “Is there anything I can supplement my diet with to enhance my results?” We spend hours in the gym, but progress certainly doesn’t come quickly. You glance at the guy next to you chugging a protein shake and start to wonder if you should do the same. Don’t worry, we have your answers with “Three Gym Myths, Debunked”.
- Myth #1 – More protein means more muscle
The simple answer: No, you don’t need to consume high amounts of protein to see results and build muscle. Yes, you do need protein to build muscle, but you won’t necessarily benefit from additional protein intake. Unless you are a vegetarian or vegan, most athletes get plenty of protein from what they eat on an average day. There is controversy surrounding whether or not endurance and strength athletes need more protein than the average person, but even if they did, they typically don’t have trouble meeting those needs with their diet. As energy needs increase, protein intake increases as well and the need for supplementation isn’t necessary to meet recommended intakes (1).
- Myth #2 – Pre-workout supplements will enhance your results
Recently gaining in popularity, pre-workout supplements come in a powder or pre-mixed drink form. A pre-workout supplement can claim to give you that, “added edge” in the gym. Key ingredients are meant to, “increase muscular endurance” and offer “explosive energy,” but is an extra boost of energy really beneficial? For the price and risk involved, probably not. Pre-workout is an expensive way to simply feel more powerful, but a better option may be a cup of coffee. Feeling more energized doesn’t equate to a more hard-earned strength or muscle. In addition, stimulating supplements may be dangerous, especially when your heart is already pumping.
- Myth #3 – Cutting carbs will help you lose weight
Carbohydrates are the main source of fuel in the body. Without carbs, we would die. In fact, the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Range for carbohydrates is 45 to 65 percent of our total daily caloric intake (2). In other words, about half of your intake can come in the form of carbs. Mind you, this should consist of fresh fruits and vegetables, but also whole grains. Don’t fear carbohydrates, they supply your muscles with vital glycogen to power you through your workout. Without glycogen, you become fatigued and unable to properly source your muscles with the fuel they need. If you know anybody on a low carb diet, they may complain of feeling tired and unable to get through a workout. That is why you should include a healthy amount of carbohydrates in your diet, especially after a good resistance exercise to re-fuel those depleted glycogen stores.
There is no magic pill or extreme diet that will help you healthily lose weight or gain muscle. Instead, focus on small modifications one day at a time and consistent, challenging exercise. Physical activity is a great way to burn excess calories, build muscle, and relieve stress. Don’t skip out!
- Jeukendrup AE, Gleeson M. Sport Nutrition, An Introduction to Energy Production and Performance. Human Kinetics Publishers; 2009.
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/document/html/chapter7.htm. Updated July 9, 2008. Accessed November 9, 2017.