Photo: Norbert Buduczki / Unsplash
Human civilization is built on myths and legends. While some can be helpful (or at least entertaining), others inspire behavior that’s pointless at best and dangerous at worst. If you’re looking for examples of dubious myths inspiring dangerous behavior, the world of bodybuilding is one of the richest sources of both.
In an effort to put an end to some of the worst bodybuilding advice out there, let’s take a look at five myths that really need to be busted for good.
There’s an odd assumption in the bodybuilding world that the best formula for newborns must also be the best formula for getting ripped. Baby formula is, after all, designed to help tiny humans grow at a rapid rate. Some bodybuilders hold similar beliefs about breast milk.
Breast milk and baby formula are good sources of protein, sugar, fat, and nutrients. Breast milk also contains anti-inflammatory compounds and human growth hormones that may speed up muscle recovery and support the immune system. However, there’s no magic to breast milk or baby formula. You can find plenty of other sources for the nutrients and calories they provide, and it’s far more beneficial for excess breast milk to go to milk banks where it can be used to feed babies in need.
The “more protein = more muscle” formula is actually a dangerous one. If every meal is protein-loaded and you regularly exceed 30 grams of protein per meal, all you’ll be doing is placing unnecessary strain on your heart, kidneys, and digestive system. So, get your protein, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking your body is just going to convert every gram of this macronutrient into muscle.
Some people are genetically gifted, others will lie convincingly about the cocktail of performance-enhancing drugs they’re taking, and many simply don’t really know how they came to have the physique they do.
The point is this: you may get good advice from a person whose physique you admire. However, you shouldn’t take everything they say as absolute truth. Instead, follow the science and stick to an evidence-based approach.
To a certain extent, a calorie is a calorie. However, if you’re living on protein cookies and Gatorade, your body will be missing out on essential vitamins and minerals. Get low on iron, vitamin D, or B12 and you can say goodbye to having energy for your workouts. You may also experience hair loss and other unwanted side effects. The same goes for all the important micronutrients. So by all means, hit your macros – just make sure you’re getting your micros in too.
We’re not here to advocate for one diet or another – it’s essential to find a diet and lifestyle that works for you. However, it is important to bust the myth that vegans can’t build muscle naturally. It certainly does take more work and more focus on your diet, but it can be done. Indeed, there are dozens of well-known vegan bodybuilders proving this point every day.
Myths like these can be hard to let go of as they offer the desirable promise of easy gains. However, the sooner you focus on the realities of bodybuilding, the sooner you’ll be able to make genuine progress.