Fact or Fiction: Exploring the Truth Behind 5 Popular Fat Loss Myths
Fat loss is a common goal for many people, and with so much information available online, it can be extremely challenging to know what to believe.
Unfortunately, a lot of the widely circulated ideas about losing weight are based on myths rather than facts. These myths can be harmful because they may not only advocate unhealthy or harmful ideas around food and nutrition, but can also cause people to waste their time, money, and effort on strategies that don’t actually work.
In this blog post, we’ll explore some of the most common fat loss myths out there.
Myth #1: Spot reduction is possible.
This refers to the belief that you can target fat loss in specific areas of the body, such as the stomach or thighs, by doing exercises that work those muscles.
It has been consistently shown that spot reduction is in fact not possible. While exercises that target specific areas of the body can strengthen and tone those muscles, they don’t necessarily lead to fat loss in those areas. Instead, fat loss occurs throughout the body in response to a calorie deficit. So, doing crunches or leg lifts alone won’t magically melt away belly or thigh fat!
It is also important to note that the areas where you may carry the extra fat, are often the last to go as they are harder to lose, but consistent effort and adherence will help you track towards your goal.
Myth #2: You need to do a lot of cardio to lose fat.
The idea that you need to do a lot of cardio to lose fat is an extremely common myth – so no, you don’t have to spend hours on the treadmill in order to get the best results – PHEW!
While cardio can be an effective way to increase your energy expenditure and promote weight loss, it is by no means the only way to achieve these goals.
When it comes to increasing your daily activity, it is important to find a form of exercise that suits you and your lifestyle, as this will increase the chances of getting into a routine with it. If the gym isn’t your thing – consider a class or getting outside for a run or a walk…think about the post-workout endorphins!
Myth #3: Eating fat makes you fat.
The myth that eating fat makes you fat is a common misconception. While it may seem counterintuitive, consuming dietary fat does not necessarily translate to weight gain or an increase in body fat.
Fat is one of the three macronutrients needed as part of a healthy diet and you should not shy away from it even when you’re looking to lose body fat. This is because it is needed as an energy source, to provide the body with essential fatty acids (dietary fats that are vital for growth and cell functions but cannot be synthesised by the body), to allow for optimal functioning of nerves and the brain, assist in the production of hormones and are essential for the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K.
It is important to note that fat is more energy dense than protein and carbohydrates as it provides 9 calories per gram, compared to 4 calories per gram from protein and carbs. As a result, it is easier to eat a higher number of calories from a smaller volume/amount of a certain food item.
Myth #4: Carbs are the enemy of fat loss.
This myth likely comes from the concept around the carbohydrate-insulin model of obesity. It theorises that diets high in carbohydrates are particularly fattening due to their propensity to elevate insulin secretion. According to this theory, high levels of insulin promote the storage of fat in adipose tissue, which leads to weight gain and obesity. However, this has been criticised for oversimplifying the complex biological processes involved in weight regulation and ignoring the role of other factors, such as genetics, physical activity, and overall calorie intake.
While some people find success with low-carb diets, carbohydrates are not inherently bad for fat loss. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy, needed for brain and organ function, as well as physical activity. They also play a role in the structure and function of cells, tissues and organs. Without carbohydrates, your body struggles to function properly and you often end up feeling run-down and fatigued.
Often, those that see success with fat loss on a low-carb diet, tend to see this success due to cutting out high calorific, processed foods such as cakes, biscuits and pizza that are often high in carbs. The success comes from the ingestion of fewer calories rather than the lack of carbs.
One of the most common questions we get asked by new clients is whether to opt for a balanced macro-split or for a low-carb diet plan, especially if their goal happens to be fat loss. There is not necessarily a ‘correct’ option to go for and it is often down to personal preference and/or circumstances. If you have a hectic lifestyle and exercise frequently, a more balanced approach may be more suitable and you may find it easier to stick to.
Myth #5: Fat loss supplements or detox teas can help you lose fat quickly.
It’s a definite no from us! They’re expensive, pointless and potentially harmful. Further, to date, there does not appear to be any definitive scientific evidence which backs the use of fat loss supplements or detox teas for cleansing the body or for fat loss.
Many of the products have detrimental side effects, including cramps, diarrhoea and dehydration, which all, in turn, have negative effects on overall health and well-being.
Further, many of the companies do not state the toxin the products are targeting. They often refer to toxicity in a basic manner when it should certainly consider factors such as context and dosage before making bold, often misleading claims.
Additionally, many of the marketed products are sold as food or dietary supplements, meaning they do not have to go through the same testing and approval processes medicines do by the FDA (in the USA) or MHRA (UK). They are then subject to food safety laws instead which are less rigorous.
Lastly, celebrities are being paid to promote these products or detox diets, with little to no knowledge about what they entail and their effects. They have large followings, often made up of younger audiences, who can be more impressionable.
There is no magic pill or drink that can help you lose fat quickly and sustainably. Sustainable fat loss requires a combination of healthy eating, regular exercise, and consistency.
The world of nutrition can no doubt be a bit of a minefield to navigate. When it comes to separating fact from fiction, be wary of anything which has lack of scientific evidence, is overly simplistic, promises quick fixes or comes from a non-credible source. If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is!