When it comes to health and fitness, the internet is rife with so-called ‘experts’ offering their input. From weight loss tips, to advice on how to run a marathon, there is no shortage of information out there for people who are looking to improve their overall wellness.
While it’s never a bad idea to go looking for expert advice, dietitian Julie Upton, MS, RD, of Appetite For Health, warns against believing everything that you are are told when it comes to health and fitness. “The Internet is like the Wild West when it comes to nutrition information: anything goes,” Upton writes on Popsugar.
“Websites are rife with less-than-accurate nutrition facts, which only fuels food myths and adds to consumers’ confusion about which picks are the healthiest,” she continues.
So what are the top myths that we need to stop believing? According to Upton, we all need to let go of the idea that muscle turns to fat when we stop exercising. You’re probably familiar with the idea – a friend gets busy at work and stops going to the gym regularly and when they gain weight, they claim that the muscle that once had has now somehow dissolved into fat.
“This isn’t the case because muscle and fat tissues are entirely different, and therefore they can never transform from one to the other. It’s the equivalent of saying you can turn water into wine or lead into gold,” Upton says.
So if it doesn’t turn to fat, what actually happens to your muscle when you stop exercising? According to Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki, your muscles begin to shrink. “If you stop pumping iron, the muscles that you have so painfully built up get smaller. You still have the same number of muscle cells – but each muscle cell gets thinner,” Dr. Kruszelnicki tells ABC Science.
And while you may start to pile on fat, this is entirely different to your muscle. “If you happen to keep eating the same amount of food, the fat cells (which were always there) will now expand. But, apart from the slow process of evolution, under no circumstances does one type of cell (muscle) turn into a completely different type of cell (fat) with different internal machinery, functions and shape,” he says.
As you would expect, this works both ways and when you begin exercising again, fat does not magically start turning into muscle.