Spend 15 minutes in almost any gym, and you'll hear a whole lot of B.S. advice from people who probably aren't qualified to give it. Whether it's a tip about proper form from someone in the weight room, or a random trainer's rec to take some sort of supplement, misinformation can keep you from reaching your diet and fitness goals.
To clear things up, Cosmopolitan.com asked Adam Rosante, ISSA-certified fitness nutrition specialist and fitness trainer, to debunk some of the biggest misconceptions about fitness and sports nutrition:
MYTH: STRENGTH TRAINING MAKES WOMEN LOOK BULKY.
"This is the most bullshit fitness myth around," says Rosante, who simply doesn't understand why women who want to get "in shape" are so afraid of lifting weights, a surefire way to build the muscles that quite literally give your body form. Lots of women worry that lifting weights—god forbid, heavy weights—will make them look like the Hulk.
But the concern is seriously unfounded, mostly because it takes a hell of a lot more than a couple of 10-pound dumbbell curls to start looking like a bodybuilder. Seriously—bodybuilders basically devote their lives to bulking up. They spend hours upon hours every day lifting the heaviest weights they can get off the ground and follow a squeaky-clean, uber-high-protein diet that's often measured to the ounce.
Unless you're following suit, you really don't need to worry that performing standard weight-bearing exercises (like two to three sets of any exercise using 10- to 15-pound weights) a few times a week will suddenly surprise you with the body of a superhero. #NotHappening.
MYTH: EATING FAT MAKES YOU FAT.
While fat is often demonized, there's no proof that the fat you eat beelines to your butt or thighs or tummy. That's because your body only turns calories into body fat when you eat more calories than it can burn—and that goes for calories from any nutrient, including protein and carbs.
But science suggests the equation is even more complicated—that different foods can have different effects on the body. Dietary fat, for instance, is enormously satisfying and steadies your blood sugar and appetite—plus it requires more time and effort to digest. So a diet that contains healthy fats from foods like fish, vegetable oils, and avocado may actually help you crave fewer calories and burn more of them at rest. Of course that's just one reason why you'd be smart to pay attention to these signs you're not eating enough fat.
MYTH: PROCESSED CARBS YOU EAT AT NIGHT TURN TO FAT.
"Again, total calorie consumption is what matters most," Rosante says. In other words, a late-night protein shake can do just as much damage as a sleeve of cookies no matter what time you dig in if you end up consuming more calories than your body can burn through basic functioning and exercise.
MYTH: MONDAY IS THE BEST DAY TO BEGIN A NEW ROUTINE.
Monday may feel like a convenient day for a healthy start, particularly if booze-filled days and pizza nights make your weekends worth living for. However, the whole wait-until-Monday mentality will only deter you from reaching your goals ASAP—and that is the goal, right? "I'm a big champion of taking action immediately," Rosante says. "Why not start right now?"
MYTH: ABS EXERCISES GIVE YOU A SIX-PACK.
"You can do sit-ups for days, but if you have a high percentage of body fat, your abs will stay in hiding," Rosante explains. You'll only see your abs "pop" when you get rid of the belly fat that covers them. High-intensity interval-training can help—but not nearly as much as making changes to your diet, like cutting out sugar and artificially sweetened drinks, to start.
MYTH: THE MORE SORE YOU FEEL AFTER EXERCISING, THE BETTER YOUR WORKOUT WAS.
While soreness can be a sign that you K-I-L-L-E-D it at the gym (and enormously satisfying, for some people), you can get a perfectly good workout without feeling sore AF the next day. "Every body is different, and some experience more delayed onset muscle soreness than others," Rosante explains. "Pain is not an indicator of effectiveness."
MYTH: PROTEIN SHAKES ONLY WORK WITHIN 30 MINUTES OF YOUR WORKOUT.
While eating protein after you exercise can help your body rebuild the muscle tears that occur when you work out, research suggests the window of opportunity for consuming protein can last up to a few hours after you stop sweating—especially if you ate before exercising. Even if you hit the gym on an empty stomach, it's NBD if you can't get your hands on a high-protein snack within 30 minutes. A couple of hard-boiled eggs, a protein bar, or a Greek yogurt will still benefit your body more than junk food, even if you eat it later in the day.
MYTH: ELLIPTICAL TRAINING IS B.S.
While elliptical trainers put less pressure on the joints than treadmill or outdoor running, and thus can feel easier than these activities, that doesn't mean elliptical training is ineffective or vastly inferior. The effectiveness of any cardio machine depends on how hard you push yourself while using it. So if you'd prefer to hop on an elliptical than lace up for a run, no shame. "All movement is good movement," Rosante says.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.