10 Myths About Dieting and Fat Loss You Need to Know
Summer is rapidly approaching, and for many of you, that means it’s time to start shedding your winter coat of fat accumulated during your yearly “bulk” that’s been going on since the holidays. But, the road to a shredded physique and toned 6-pack is littered with potholes that seek to distract and disrupt your fat loss progress.
Ahead we’ve got the top 10 myths about dieting and fat loss you need to avoid if you’re looking to be ripped, ready, and rocking for summer!
Top 10 Myths About Fat Loss
All calories are created equal
How many times have you heard, “a calorie is a calorie.” It doesn’t matter whether you’re eating sugar, chicken, or lard, all calories are the same to the body.
We’re here to tell you that statement is complete nonsense!
Different foods are processed by different metabolic pathways and have dramatically different effects on hunger, blood sugar levels, and hormones that affect body weight. Case in point, a fat calorie is not the same as a protein calorie or a carb calorie.
Eating more protein in place of fat and carbohydrates can boost metabolism, enhance weight-governing hormone function, and decrease appetite.[1,2,3] This is in part due to the fact that the body must expend a greater amount of energy (calories) to digest protein than either carbohydrates or fat.
Eat fat makes you fat
For decades, the advice of nutritionists, trainers, and even doctors was to adopt a low-fat diet, as it was the “key” to weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. In reality, ditching fat led to people over consuming cheap, highly refined carbohydrates that were perceived as healthy because they were “fat free” or “low fat”.
Fat has been unfairly demonized, and while the tide is starting to shift to more people understanding the benefits of dietary fat, a great many people still think it’s necessary to limit when trying to lose fat.
The fact is, dietary fat is essential to optimal health and function. Fats increase digestion time of meals, which keeps you feeling fuller longer, subsequently reducing cravings and the temptation to snack mindlessly. Additionally, fats are also needed to absorb key fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K).
Fats are also crucial for hormone production (i.e. testosterone) and help lubricate joints. Aim to consume roughly 30% of your daily calories from fat (around 0.5 grams per pound of bodyweight) from sources including avocado, walnuts, olive oil, and fatty fish like salmon or mackerel.
You have to ditch carbs completely
In this day and age, it’s become trendy to completely banish carbohydrates from the diet as many people incorrectly believe that carbs are to blame for the world’s constantly escalating obesity epidemic.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Losing weight requires an overall caloric deficit, NOT the blanket removal of any and all carbohydrates from the diet. Remember, vegetables, such as broccoli and asparagus, also count as carbohydrates and removing them from the diet eliminates low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods that are incredibly filling due to the high volume of water and fiber contained in them.
Carbs are NOT the enemy, overconsumption of calorie-dense, nutrient-void foods (i.e. potato chips, candy bars) is what leads to excess weight gain. No matter the source of the excess calories (carbs, proteins, or fats), if you’re eating more than your body burns on a daily basis, you will gain fat.
Go big or go home
So many times when individuals are looking to lose fat quickly, they slash their calorie intake with the thinking that the bigger the calorie deficit, the faster the weight will come off.
Heads up…DO NOT do this!
We’ll repeat that, do NOT drastically cut calories when trying to lose weight.
While it’s true a calorie deficit is required to burn fat, it’s not nearly as massive as you think. Removing a large portion of your calories sets you up for an increased chance of losing muscle during your fat loss journey, leaving you with the dreaded “skinny fat” look at the end of your fat loss phase.
When trying to burn fat, start with a deficit of 500 calories (made up of carbohydrates and fats) and monitor progress for two weeks and then decide if you need to increase the deficit or reduce it (if you’re losing more than 2 pounds per week).
Higher reps for fat loss and “toning”
One of the biggest myths permeating throughout the fitness industry is that low reps build muscle and strength, and high reps burn fat. Again, this is another one of the many falsehoods you’re likely to hear at the gym when trying to lose fat and build muscle.
The truth is, you should continue to train similar to when you were trying to build muscle. Performing more repetitions (20-50 reps per set) with lightweight (think pink dumbbells) does NOT burn more fat or “tone” muscles better than lifting heavier weight (60-80% 1RM) for a moderate number of repetitions (6-15 reps).
Diet will ultimately dictate your success with losing fat, as such, continue to lift in the muscle-building range, as the more lean mass you have, the higher metabolic rate is, which means you’re burning more calories throughout the day.
Cardio is best for fat loss
Another one of the big fitness myths you’re likely to hear when looking to shed fat for summer is that cardio is king for leaning out. Yet again, this is wrong.
Cardio can be helpful for getting a couple of extra calories burned if you’re prepping for a physique contest, but the boost in metabolic rate and fat burning ends the second you get off the treadmill. On top of that, cardio doesn’t help build lean muscle mass — the key to a weight loss and superior body composition.
Resistance training helps build muscle and elevates metabolism for hours and hours after you’ve set the weights down. Add cardio in if it’s something you enjoy or looking to burn a bit more during the day, but don’t make it your go-to choice for fat loss training.
Exercise more frequently
Quite frequently when in a cutting phase, individuals will try to exercise more frequently, over performing two-a-days in the hopes that exercising more often will lead to faster fat loss, or they’ll try to “burn off” that cheat meal they just had on their diet.
While it’s true that it’s better to exercise more often than not, there comes a point where it’s actually detrimental to muscle building and fat loss. First, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet, so if you’re constantly blowing your diet with the thinking you’ll “jog it away”, that’s not going to happen. Second, exercise causes a release of cortisol in the body. While some cortisol is inevitable, and necessary, too much cortisol too often inhibits muscle building and fat burning, and it actually promotes fat storage.
You only need to be into the gym a maximum of 5 days per week (depending on your training split), everything else as far as fat loss results is dictated by your diet.
The Scale is the Best Judge of Fat Loss
Fat loss can be tracked a number of ways — a scale, a tape measure, body fat calipers, DEXA scan, progress pictures, or even your everyday mirror. So many times, people only use the number on the scale as their barometer for gauging the success of their fat loss diet.
The truth is, the scale is only ONE metric of progress when losing fat, it’s not the only one, or even the best one. The number on the scale is just that, a number. It doesn’t tell you how much of that number is made of muscle, fat, bone, water, or organ tissue.
If you see the number on the scale going down, you know you’re doing something right, but if it stays the same for a week or two, do not freak out. You could simply be trading fat for muscle (i.e. recomping), or you may be holding more water one day than another.
Use the scale as A tool to track progress, but not the tool.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day
For decades, breakfast was billed as the “ideal” way to start the day. It jump started your metabolism and boosted your brain. In fact, quite the opposite is true as some research indicates that those who skip breakfast actually lose more weight than those who eat breakfast.
In line with that, it’s also not necessary to eat multiple “mini” meals or snack constantly throughout the day. Originally it was thought that consuming small meals every 2-3 hours would boost metabolism, but research has shown that it doesn’t matter if you eat bigger meals less frequently or smaller meals, more frequently, the calorie burn is the same.
Realistically speaking, it’s the total number of calories you consume by the end of the day that will dictate whether you lose fat or not, not how often or even what time you eat them.
All or Nothing
Finally, dieting for fat loss is never, ever an all or nothing proposition. What we mean by this, is that losing fat does not require you to completely banish or abstain from any certain food. Yes, you can still have chocolate while dieting. You can even have the occasional glass of wine or bottle of beer. Pizza and hamburgers aren’t off limits either, provided you stick within your daily allotment of calories.
This mentality of certain foods being “bad” or “off limits” only feeds a frenzy that can lead to eating disorders such as orthorexia or bulimia. Remember, fat loss is dictated by total calorie intake at the end of each day. If you can fit in a cheeseburger while still staying under your calorie set point and hitting your macronutrient goals, then feel free to have that cheeseburger. The peace of mind you have, will allow you to continue on your fat loss journey successfully, avoiding the tendency to “binge” or “gorge” that often hits those individuals embracing the “all or nothing” mentality.
Dieting and fat loss isn’t easy on its own, and it’s made that much more difficult and confusing by the myths that lurk around every gym and “fitness blog.” It’s tempting to follow these myths and trends in the hopes that it will lead to rapid fat loss, but it’s false hope.
Use the tips outlined above to structure a successful, and sustainable fat loss journey that will deliver the physique you’ve always wanted. And, if you’re looking for a little extra help to get absolutely ripped for summer, grab a bottle of Condemned Labz Arsyn, a high potency fat burner that revs metabolism, reduces cravings, and supports the body’s natural fat burning processes.
- Leidy HJ, Clifton PM, Astrup A, et al. The role of protein in weight loss and maintenance. Am J Clin Nutr. April 2015. doi:10.3945/ajcn.114.084038.
- Astrup A, Raben A, Geiker N. The role of higher protein diets in weight control and obesity-related comorbidities. International Journal of Obesity (2005). 2015;39(5):721-726. doi:10.1038/ijo.2014.216.
- Pesta DH, Samuel VT. A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2014;11:53. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-11-53.
- J E Donnelly, T Sharp, J Houmard, M G Carlson, J O Hill, J E Whatley, R G Israel; Muscle hypertrophy with large-scale weight loss and resistance training, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 58, Issue 4, 1 October 1993, Pages 561–565, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/58.4.561
- Caudwell P, Hopkins M, King NA, Stubbs RJ, Blundell JE. Exercise alone is not enough: weight loss also needs a healthy (Mediterranean) diet? Public Health Nutr. 2009;12(9A):1663-1666. doi:10.1017/S1368980009990528.
- Moyer AE, Rodin J, Grilo CM, Cummings N, Larson LM, Rebuffe-Scrive M. Stress-induced cortisol response and fat distribution in women. Obes Res. 1994;2(3):255-262.
- Horikawa C, Kodama S, Yachi Y, et al. Skipping breakfast and prevalence of overweight and obesity in Asian and Pacific regions: A meta-analysis. Prev Med (Baltim). 2011;53(4):260-267. doi:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2011.08.030.
- Bellisle F, McDevitt R, Prentice AM. Meal frequency and energy balance. Br J Nutr. 1997;77 Suppl 1:S57-70.