In these times, for most of us, exercising and being fit is an indispensable part of life. Women are willing to put in long hours at the gym, sweating it out to look oh-so-sexy. But the Internet (and that gym buddy) is full of dos and don’ts about how ladies must work out. Will weights add bulk to your frame? Does ditching fat make you fitter? Here’s all you need to know about popular fitness myths.
A no-fat diet will help me lose weight
If you plan to go on low-fat diet, think again. A diet low on fat is also low on protein, which is the building block of our body. Saturated fat does make us unhealthy and heavy but unsaturated fat (that comes from a good diet) contains essential fatty acids that are absolutely indispensable to the body. These help in muscle repair after workouts, absorb vitamins A,D, E and K and supply them to the rest of the body. A fat-free diet will pile up on the carbohydrate content of the diet, making you flabby. “This is false. If you want to gain and build muscle mass, you must eat enough dietary fat. While trying to build muscles fast, stay away from low-fat diets. Dietary fats play an essential role in hormone production in our bodies which in turn is responsible for muscle growth and strength. It is difficult to build muscle if you are always on a low-fat diet. In the past, dietary fat got such bad publicity that many people today believe that eating fat makes you fat and unhealthy,” says Panday.
If I stop working out, my muscles will turn into fat
By magic, yes. But otherwise, no. Adipose or fat tissue and muscle tissue are two different tissues of the human body and are not interchangeable. If you take a sabbatical from the gym, you will pile up on the calories that you intake. And since you won’t be burning them, fresh fat will get accumulated. This process, mind you, has nothing to do with your muscle mass. Muscles tend to lose their toned structure when they are not worked on but they certainly do not turn into fat. Fitness expert Deanne Panday, who trains the likes of Bipasha Basu, Lara Dutta and John Abraham, explains, “Muscles and fats are made up of very different types of cells that have completely different functions. Skeletal muscles expand when a person exercises primarily from hypertrophy (increase in the volume of an organ or tissue due to the enlargement of its component cells). The person is not gaining more cells -- only the existing ones enlarge, and more filaments develop within the cells and accommodate the challenges put upon them through exercise.”
Crunch your way to a flat stomach
Crunches do not lead to a flatter stomach magically. While they do tighten them, a flatter stomach is a combination of workout and a proper diet. “Most people are too shy to wear outfits that show off the abdomen because they are conscious of that layer of fat,” says Kris Gethin, who is responsible for Hrithik Roshan’s superbod in Krrish 3. One must focus more on burning the layers of fat beneath the abs. Crunches do not put enough pressure on abdominal muscle -- one must target upper abs, lower abs and obliques to get a leaner look. “Performing crunches every day will not give you a flat stomach. Yes, I do recommend abdominal exercises to be performed two-three times a week, but the key the right six-pack diet. I always tell people, ‘You get your abs in the kitchen, not the gym’. Try to eat five-six small meals per day that include lean sources of protein such as chicken, fish, soy, low fat paneer or egg whites mixed with an equal portion of complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potato or whole wheat roti,” adds Gethin.
Eat less and go crazy on cardio
While the treadmill may look like the answer to all your weight problems, it actually makes you lose both weight and muscle mass. “You burn your calories but if you do not compliment it with strength training you will not be in the right shape. So compliment the right diet with cardio and strength training,” says fitness expert Pradeep Bhatia, who’s responsible for Ranbir Kapoor’s toned body. Eating less will only make you weak and not help in losing weight. The body needs carbohydrates and fats to burn and get energy when you exercise. If your body is lacking carbohydrates, it won’t be able to burn fat and you will be stuck in a stagnant weight-loss plan. “Eating less is definitely not the solution. Rather, follow a nutritious diet and avoid fatty or oily food,” explains Bhatia.
Women who lift weight bulk up
The hormone that is responsible for excessive muscle growth is testosterone — a predominantly male hormone. Women do not produce enough testosterone to bulk up. “Women who exercise and eat right will see a shapely and sexy reflection staring back at them in the mirror,” opines Kris Gethin. Although women can use the same weight-training techniques as men, its efficiency depends on diet and muscle fibre. Genetics, too, have an active role to play in muscle-building. “Resistance training is the secret to a shapely body and toned trimmings. By increasing muscle density, a woman will burn hundreds of more calories than a person who doesn’t weight train. Cardiovascular exercises burn fat while the exercise is being performed. However, if a woman maintains toned muscle tissue, it helps burn fat even while one is not working out,” says Gethin.