“Broscience is the predominant brand of reasoning in bodybuilding circles where the anecdotal reports of jacked dudes are considered more credible than scientific research.”
Broscience is rife. You’ll find it in a lot of gyms, most fitness magazines, bodybuilding forums, supplement adverts and anywhere fitness folks congregate online or in real life.
I’ll also hold my hands up and say that when I started out lifting weights and improving my diet that I was a purveyor of broscience. I think most people are. Thankfully, we’re getting smarter. You don’t need to make the same mistakes I did! In this article, I’ll share 7 of the most widely held bodybuilding beliefs that have been busted by science.
1. Fasted Cardio Is Better For Fat Loss
You’ve probably heard it before that fasted cardio, or exercising on an empty stomach in the morning, is much better for fat loss compared to exercising after eating?
The evidence shows that fasted cardio doesn’t increase fat loss compared to exercising after eating or later in the day. Although popular in bodybuilding circles, working out on empty stomach in the morning isn’t something you need to be doing! It’s entirely up to you when you decide to workout. The best time is whenever it fits your routine, lifestyle and preferences.
Read more: Is Fasted Cardio Better For Fat Loss?
2. Green Tea Is An Effective Fat Burner
Losing weight is something that many people want to experience—and the faster it happens (and the less strenuous effort involved), the better.
If you like drinking green tea, go ahead and enjoy it.
If you’re forcing yourself to drink it because you think it’s “fat burning”, well, you can stop. The research shows that it is unlikely to have any effect on your quest for a leaner physique.
3. You Need To Eat Every 2-3 Hours To Boost Your Metabolism
Research actually shows us that it’s your total energy intake vs energy output that influences your body composition, not how many meals you’ve eaten.
How often you should eat is really down to you.
If you’re a three meals a day person and you’re always hungry, I would consider adding in a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack – perhaps some fruit, nuts or yogurt.
This doesn’t “boost metabolism”, but it will help reduce hunger and it may prevent overeating at your bigger meals.
4. You Should Take BCAAs
BCAAs are a favourite among folks trying to get jacked down at the gym.
They sound ‘sciency’ Branched Chain Amino Acids….so that’s got to count for something right?
Unfortunately BCAAs aren’t going to do squat for your squats.
French researchers showed that BCAA supplementation on an energy restricted high protein diet had no beneficial effects on muscle mass, fat loss, aerobic and anaerobic performance in a group of 25 competitive wrestlers.
A study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that when combined with heavy resistance training for eight weeks, 9 g/day of BCAA supplementation, half given 30 minutes before and after exercise, had no beneficial effects on body composition and muscle performance.
Researchers in Mississippi showed that in healthy, resistance-trained males BCAAs did not improve muscle thickness, performance, perceived soreness and weakness, or markers of muscle damage.
Read more: 9 Reasons Why You DON’T Need To Take BCAAs
5. Neck A Protein Shake Immediately After A Workout
It’s important that you understand that despite what you may have read in bodybuilding mags, or heard down the gym, the science shows us that there isn’t a rapid urgency to neck a protein shake the second after you’ve finished exercising.
Having some protein after exercise is an important aspect of recovery in bodybuilding – it’s necessary to help rebuild muscle tissue that’s been damaged in your workout, run, cycle and so on – but it doesn’t require a finite degree of precision.
Just eat 20-40g of protein within a few hours after exercise.
6. Cheat Meals Are A Good Idea
The ‘bros’ down the gym love to talk about their ‘cheat days’ and ‘cheat meals!
When you eat nothing but chicken, broccoli and brown rice…it’s no surprise that come the weekend, you’re itching to eat something with some flavour!
If you follow a flexible dieting approach and track your macros, this doesn’t happen.
As you have the leeway to incorporate tastier, less nutritionally sound foods into your normal eating routine to help minimise cravings and to make dieting considerably more tolerable, you don’t need to have a huge, unregulated feed composed of mainly junk foods – in the thought that it boosts metabolism and gives you a welcome break from dieting.
The problem with cheat meals if you’re on bodybuilding is that they can completely wipe out your hard work that you’ve put in during the week, bringing your calorie deficit to a whopping zero.
7. Ditch The Dairy
Dairy get’s a pretty bad rep in some bodybuilding circles but it’s pretty nifty and can certainly be included in most diets.
A recent review of all the evidence relating to dairy found that dairy protects against many chronic diseases, is a nutritionally dense food and contributes significantly to keeping us fit and healthy.