With so many myths about fat loss buzzing around the internet and your local gym, it is important that I address the most widely spread myths for fat loss.
Read these, do studies if you need more proof, and learn to create a smart goal and stick to it.
Eating every 2-3 hours will ramp up your metabolism
Frequent feeding is certainly not a bad thing if you plan out your meals properly but simply eating every 2-3 hours will not ramp up your metabolism. Many who attempt to frequent feed develop orthorexia or other OCD tendencies and highly suggest you steer clear of this myth.
You need to eat protein at every meal to lose fat
Scientifically this is false. I do not know the origin of this myth but eating protein is satiating which makes overeating harder to do. If you can’t get protein in at every meal, don’t sweat it.
No carbohydrates after a certain time
The time ranges from after noon to after 6pm and all of it is false. Your metabolism is continuous, it doesn’t work in 24 hour blocks.
Eating at night makes you fat
Again, false. Your metabolism is continuous and doesn’t work in 24 hour blocks. There is a lot of unconscious eating done at night and I think that’s how this myth may have started.
Endless hours of cardio is the key to fat loss
If the “calories burned” counter keeps going up on your machine, that’s gotta be good, right? Endless hours of cardio does damage to your metabolism and eventually stops you in your tracks in your fat loss journey.
A calorie is a calorie; nutritional density do not matter
There’s this thing called “if it fits my macros” and some people take this way too far. You can lose weight by eating fewer calories of Twinkies than you are burning but your body composition, blood work, and hormones will go crazy. Nutritional density is an extremely important factor.
Fat loss is a simple equation of calories in vs calories out
Although calories in vs calories out is a basic calculation to weight loss, nutrition, macronutrients, micronutrients, and other vitamins and minerals play a factor in your overall body composition. For example if you do not eat enough salt and drink enough water, your body will hold onto water and cause you to weigh more than you would if you eat a balanced diet… I’ve seen people fluctuate 10 pounds from this.
Immediately cut calories to lose fat, there’s no other way
While cutting calories will in fact get you losing weight, I would not recommend doing this right away. Increasing your activity and burning more calories is always the better way to go at first.
You must dramatically decrease calories to lose fat
Losing weight slow and steady is the way to go. Cutting calories drastically is going to eventually crash your metabolism and keeping at that level of calorie intake will be difficult to achieve. This is why many diets fail.
Rapid weight loss is a good thing
I mentioned above that rapid weight loss is something that shocks your body and will eventually cause metabolic damage if you do this for too long. It is easy to temporarily cut weight for a sports event, a wedding, or something that you can “bounce back” from, but keeping a rapid pace on your weight loss will be detrimental in the end. You will gain it back.
Fasted cardio is the best for fat loss
There are many studies that show fasted cardio is best for fat loss but there is a second component to that; actually doing the cardio. If you simply cannot get up in the morning on an empty stomach, or if you just hate doing cardio in a fasted state, chances are you won’t stick with it. I suggest finding activities you like outside of the gym and supplement with cardio in the gym.
Low fat foods equals fat loss
Eating fat must make you fat, right? Wrong. Low fat foods generally have something substituted in for the fats such as carbs or sugar which may actually be worse for you than their original formula.
Low fat diets prevent you from getting fat
Again I’m not sure where this came from but this is false. Fats are important for hormone regulation and you need to eat healthy nutritious fats.
No fruit if you want to lose fat
Fruit contains fructose which is a sugar so that must mean that fruit is bad for you, right? Eating non-natural fruits, meaning overly sweetened raisins and other processed and packaged fruits will contain a much higher calorie density than that of eating a banana or apple. If the rest of your diet is in check, you aren’t going to gain weight from eating (a few) apples.
You have to have a “cheat day” periodically
Cheat days are generally looked at as a day you can gorge yourself on junk foods that you’ve been depriving yourself of throughout the weeks. This is a bad way to look at things and these cheat days usually trump all of the hard work you’ve done throughout the weeks. Look at it as a refeed day and treat it as that. Why are you depriving yourself of your favorite foods anyways? Moderation.
Fiber is a “free food” and doesn’t count in your calorie intake
These free foods and “negative calorie” foods make me giggle every time I hear someone mention them. Fiber is a carbohydrate and contains calories. The difference comes from eating the equivalent amount of carbs and calories from fiber than maybe a donut, the fiber will always be a better choice.
You can’t eat too much protein
While I don’t recommend eating your weight (literally) in protein, this is false. While these figures are just used for a general guideline, I recommend anywhere from .8-1.5 grams of protein to each pound of lean body mass.
Don’t eat more than 30 grams of protein in one sitting, it will go to waste
Again, this myth sounds pretty legit since it contains a specific number… but it is false. Your body doesn’t have a cut-off switch that automatically turns a certain amount of food to waste; think about that logic there.
Protein shakes are magic weight loss drinks
Protein shakes are a great source of protein, amino acids, and nutrients. However they are not a magical weight loss drink. Use these as supplements to your diet and you will make much more progress than if you try to replace protein shakes with meals.
Cholesterol is bad for you
Having a high cholesterol content in your blood is bad for you, not eating it. Some foods that people cringe hearing about eating such as lard is actually a reason why old people are as healthy as they are.
High cholesterol comes from eating cholesterol
Wrong. In fact, high cholesterol often is accompanied by another undiagnosed ailment.
What also causes high cholesterol?
- Liver or kidney disease
- Polycystic ovary syndrome
- Pregnancy and other conditioning that increases female hormones
- Underactive thyroid gland
- Drugs that increase your LDL and decrease HDL. These include progestins, corticosteroids, and anabolic steroids.
Beef gives you high blood pressure and heart disease
I’ve heard that beef gives you heart disease, high cholesterol, strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, heart disease, and clogs arteries and I don’t know why such a gross generalization spreads so easily. My advice is to sit down and think about it.
Eating 8 ounces of ground beef in a taco salad you made at home is much better than eating 8 ounces worth of beef from McDonalds or Taco Bell.. With all of the other factors such as carbohydrates, fats, exercise levels, and overall health being a factor with most of the things that beef supposedly gives you, there’s no way you can blame one food for all of that.
Whole milk is terrible for you
Whole milk is calorie and nutrient dense. It might be one of the most healthy things you drink but there are people who drink soda and bash on milk… let that one sink in.
Eggs are unhealthy
Eggs are called the perfect food for a reason. Eggs are extremely high in nutrients and when eaten as a whole egg the benefits are huge compared to egg whites only. Eating egg whites only is a way to cut down on calories and fat intake but I would recommend whole eggs when possible.
Butter is the worst thing you can eat to lose fat
Butter, lard, and natural fats have caught a bad rap. They are very calorie dense and the sheer thought of using “a stick of real butter” makes most people cringe and say something to the point of “that’s a heart attack waiting to happen.” The sad thing is margarine and other “substitutes” are more detrimental to your health.
All saturated fats are bad for you
Butter, ground beef, and oils are all ostracized in these myths and they all contain saturated fats. Coconut oil is the “new thing” that is healthy for you (it always has been) but has been reaching mainstream lately. Coconut oil has as much saturated fats as butter, ground beef, and other oils but is somehow more healthy than these ingredients?
Seriously though, eat these nutritious fats with care, know how much you are eating and live a long healthy life.
Low fat food alternatives are always better for you
False. These foods have higher sugar and carbohydrates than their natural foods and generally are harder to digest or have another adverse effect on the body. A calorie is not just a calorie.
Low sugar food alternatives are always better for you
False. Low carbohydrate and low sugar foods have higher fat content, harder to digest than their original counterparts and sometimes have a higher calorie content than the original.
Lowering your sodium intake is important
Your body has to have sodium to function properly. Electrolytes are sodium and if you want to live a healthy life, you need to eat it. Eating low sodium diets to try to lower blood pressure is not smart and this has unfortunately spread as a general rule of thumb for everyone now. I see more and more people not season or ingest enough salt but drink the Gatorade or other electrolyte filled drinks to help with cramping or signs of poor nutrition.
You can spot reduce fat
You can’t spot reduce fat by eating certain foods or doing certain exercises. Reducing stomach fat is important for your health and aesthetics, unfortunately you cannot spot reduce it.
Lose those love handles with ab exercises
More activity combined with less food will get rid of your love handles; doing a bunch of ab exercises will not make them burn away.
Training with light weights “tone” your body
I’ve written a few articles about toning and using weights that don’t challenge you don’t do anything for you.
High reps are only for losing fat
Being active and eating a diet that supports losing fat is the only way to lose fat. Volume paired with the correct intensity is important but there is no magical formula to lose fat with high reps.
Lighter weights are only for losing fat
Again, weight that doesn’t challenge you won’t change you. You can’t expect to lose weight and get healthier using free weights that takes no effort to move.
Fat is replaced with muscle when you lift weights
Fat sits on the outside of the muscle (subcutaneous). When you burn fat your muscles are getting closer to your skin. This is what “toning up” actually is.
When you stop lifting weights, muscle is replaced with fat
Lower activity levels while eating the same amount of calories as you used to will make you gain fat back since you don’t burn off as many calories. Muscles atrophy when inactive. This myth is closer to the truth than many others in this list, but fat will not just turn into fat simply because you stop lifting.
You can eat whatever you want and not get fat if you exercise
You can’t out exercise a shitty diet.
The more you sweat, the more fat you lose
Sweating is a sign that you are burning calories and the thermogenic effect can slightly boost the calorie burning but simply sitting in a sauna or a hot room will not make you lose fat. You’re just sweating out your electolytes and if you listen to the “don’t eat sodium” myth, you’re going to cramp up and bloat.
You need to lose excess fat before beginning weight training
Weight training is extremely helpful for fat loss and helps you create the body of your dreams. There is no reason why you should skip lifting weights because you carry excess fat. Weight training burns more calories in the long haul than walking on a treadmill will do. Combining weight training with cardio and a healthy, nutritious diet and you have yourself the ingredients for success.
There are many more myths out there that I hear floating around daily but I wanted to hit the most popular. Over-analyzing and over-thinking are detrimental to your progress; get out and do it. You’re going to hear a lot of people telling you these myths and you need to take them with a grain of salt (you probably need salt in your diet anyways).
I may poke fun at some of these myths… heck I’ve believed most of these myths before and I want you to realize these myths may be keeping you from achieving the fat loss you want.
Be sure to share this article, I want everyone to live happier and healthier lives.