5 Fat Loss Myths Busted
It's the most popular fitness goal in the world, yet so many people fail to achieve the weight loss they’re after.
Often, it’s not because you’re not trying, it’s because you’re just aren’t sure exactly what it is you should be doing.
To help you hit your fat loss goal, today we’re going to bust 5 of the biggest fat loss myths once and for all.
You Can Out Train A Bad Diet
I’m just going to come out and say this right away…just because you’ve worked out for an hour doesn’t mean you can drink a Starbucks frappachinolatte and eat a pastry because you’ve “earnt” it.
This is the crux of the issue and probably one of the biggest reasons people struggle to lose weight.
The idea you can eat whatever you want because you’ve just done a workout is a slippery slope to fat gain or at the very least, no change.
To illustrate this let me show you how many calories* you would approximately burn in an hour of exercise in comparison to some of your favourite snacks:
- Walking = 300 kcal Medium Latte = 190kcal
- Football = 550 kcal Chocolate Croissant = 400 kcal
- Swimming = 400 kcal Large Pizza Slice = 330 kcal
- Yoga / Pilates = 250 kcal Krispy Kremes Donut = 190 kcal (plain glazed)
- Weightlifting = 300 kcal Fruit Smoothie = 260 kcal
*all values are approximate, and calories burnt are based on a 160lb male exercising for an hour
It’s important to remember that it is a lot easier, not to mention quicker to eat large amounts of calories than it is to burn them.
Now, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t include foods you like in your nutrition plan, of course, you should but they need to be accounted for as part of your daily calorie intake, not added at will because you did a workout.
Low-Intensity Steady State (LISS) Training Is Best for Fat Loss
This myth is probably quite an old school one now.
In fact, it might be better written as HIT (high-intensity training) is best for fat loss.
However, as with most things in fitness, the truth is somewhere in the middle and ultimately which one you choose depends on a variety of factors.
You have to evaluate both methods and decide what’s going work best with your lifestyle and therefore be sustainable. Even if you think LISS is better but only have time to do HIT, guess what…HIT is better. At least it is for you, for now.
Considerations for LISS:
- Less stress and strain on the body
- Can be boring
- Takes a long time
Considerations for HIT:
- Can be tough on your body
- Workouts are quicker
- Can burn the same calories as LISS in a shorter amount of time
At the end of the day, one is not necessarily better than the other.
It’s all about what works for you.
You Can Spot Reduce Fat
Sorry to break it to you but you can’t singularly target one place on your body to lose fat.
It’s just not the way it works, instead, you will lose fat from across the body with the hips and thighs typically being stubborn areas for women and lower back and abs for the guys.
In a 2007 study (1) led by the University of Connecticut, they took over 100 participants and studied them for a 12-week period.
During this time, they performed a supervised resistance training programme in which their non-dominant arm was trained selectively.
The results measured by MRI showed no discernible subcutaneous fat loss difference between arms, and in fact, showed that any fat loss tends to be from across the whole body.
You Need To Cut Carbs To Lose Fat
Cutting carbs is often seen (wrongly) as the holy grail of fat loss and is touted by some people as the best and 'only' way to lose fat.
The reason they say this is is that carbs raise your levels of the hormone insulin in your bloodstream which in turn blocks the release of fat for energy and drives additional nutrient storage (2, 3).
This is true.
One of the functions of insulin is to promote the storage of nutrients and prevent the release of energy until levels have returned to normal.
It's because of this function of insulin that there is a school of thought that advocates low carb diets, stating that low carb diets won’t elevate your insulin levels and therefore will result in a greater amount of fat loss compared to a high carb diet.
However, this is because low carb diets cause you to eat fewer calories (8, 9) — i.e. you’re in a calorie deficit — which is likely a result of an increased protein intake (10) and the fact you cut a whole food group.
Not because of its effect on insulin.
In my opinion, this point is summed up perfectly in the following quote from James Krieger at Weightology.net;
“One misconception regarding a high carbohydrate intake is that it will lead to chronically high insulin levels, meaning you will gain fat because lipogenesis will constantly exceed lipolysis (remember that fat gain can only occur if the rate of lipogenesis exceeds the rate of lipolysis). However, in healthy people, insulin only goes up in response to meals. This means that lipogenesis will only exceed lipolysis during the hours after a meal (known as the postprandial period). During times when you are fasting (such as extended times between meals, or when you are asleep), lipolysis will exceed lipogenesis (meaning you are burning fat). Over a 24-hour period, it will all balance out (assuming you are not consuming more calories than you are expending), meaning you do not gain weight.”
James also has a handy graphic to help illustrate this point:
What does this all mean?
Simply put...carbs don’t make you fat.
A calorie surplus makes you fat.
You Need To Do Cardio To Lose Weight
The truth is you could lose weight without doing any cardio at all.
Weight loss is a result of the manipulation of your daily calories to put yourself into a caloric deficit.
A study (11) conducted by Kansas State University Professor Mark Haub showed that when it comes to weight loss, a calorie really is a calorie and that regardless of its source, the energy balance equation rules supreme.
For 2 months Mark ate a diet entirely of Twinkies, sugary cereals, cookies and protein shakes.
During this time he lost a staggering 27 lbs.
Whilst I would never recommend eating this kind of diet, it does go to show that if you burn more calories than you eat, you will lose weight.
Although fat loss can seem like an impossible task, by avoiding these 5 fat loss myths you’re already but yourself ahead of the pack.
Remember, like most things in fitness its consistent effort towards your goal that brings about results.
Today we learnt;
- There isn’t one best cardio for fat loss
- You can’t out train a bad diet
- You can’t spot reduce fat, it’s lost from across the body
- You can and should eat carbs when losing loss
- You can lose weight without doing any cardio