Myth No. 1: Lifting Weights Will Make You Big and Bulky
I want to get this myth out of the way immediately so that we can have an honest conversation about women's fitness. When considering strength training, ignore the images you see of women bodybuilders, because a woman's body does not naturally produce enough testosterone to produce that physique. In order for you to acquire the physique of a bodybuilder from strength training, you would have to be either suffering from a hormone imbalance or taking some form of steroids. Additionally, growing muscle to that degree requires a consistent and often extreme caloric surplus. Yes, in order to gain that amount of muscle mass, you need heightened levels of testosterone in your body and to eat a ton of food every day.
If neither of those criterion apply to you, strength training will only make your muscles slightly larger, more strong and more dense. Larger muscles work wonders for your physique because they translate into healthy curves. When your glutes are larger, your butt is bigger. When your quads and hamstrings are larger your legs are curvier and any cellulite you may carry on your legs is lessened.
Myth No. 2: Just Eat Fewer Calories to Burn Fat
This can only be true if your goal physique is just a slightly smaller version of your current physique. If you have not already, please read my Weight Loss vs Fat Loss post as it goes into greater detail. However, in fitness the types of calories and the amount of calories determine your end result. Think of a body transformation as a simplified game of chess. Protein, carbs, and fat are your main pieces and how you manipulate them determines whether you achieve your goals or not. For example, if you need to gain weight you should increase your carb intake and your overall caloric intake. If you need lean out, you will need to eat at least 1g of protein for every pound you weigh, so that you lose body fat and little muscle.
Myth No. 3 There Are Special Fat Burning Foods
Your body burns fat when it has to burn the fat on your body for energy, that's it. In other words, your body burns fat when it's in a caloric deficit. Remember that calories are simply a measurement of energy. Too much energy is stored on the body as fat, too little energy forces the body to burn those fat stores. Basically, there are no magic foods that will cause this to happen. Instead, you will need to burn more energy than you consume from food. Or, you will need to consume less food for energy than your body needs to function.
Additionally, you will need to reduce your carb intake enough for your body to exhaust the energy stores from the carbs you consume, in order to then burn your body fat. This myth is advice that is lacking explanation and "fat burning food" is just a marketing term. What they mean is there are some foods like grapefruit and coffee that have been shown to slightly increase your metabolism which helps you create a slightly larger caloric deficit. However, they do not burn fat.
Myth No. 4 You Have to Avoid Carbs
This might be the most detrimental advice delivered to you. First, it creates a negative relationship between you and food. There are no food groups that you should avoid. Second, your body specifically breaks down carbs to use as energy. This means your body relies on you to provide it with carbs to sleep, eat, think, breath, and simply function. Carbs are energy. Carbs are your friend. You need carbs.
This is another myth that stems from advice lacking explanation. Your body takes the foods you eat, breaks them down into macronutrients called protein, carbs, and fat and then breaks those down into energy. It breaks down carbs as your first and primary source of energy. Next, when it has exhausted your carb stores, it will burn your body fat for energy. In theory, if you are trying to burn fat and get leaner there will be a temporary duration of time that you will need to slightly reduce your carb levels to help your body source your body fat to burn as energy.
Myth No. 5 Ab Workouts Burn Belly Fat
See a reoccurring theme here? Nearly all the fitness information directed at women makes claims that there's a variety of ways to burn fat. There's only one way, and that's from a caloric deficit. Ab workouts may increase the size of your ab muscles, but unless you are consistently creating a caloric deficit, you will never burn your body fat, and you will never see those abs.