The internet has become a treasure trove of fitness information, allowing everyone with a phone or computer to access every topic about health and wellness from exercise instructions to meal plans. On the flip side, false information and fitness myths are still being pushed, usually by well-meaning people who don’t do their research.
Weight loss myths can be particularly frustrating, especially if someone has tried and failed multiple times to achieve their weight loss goals. Don’t worry, we’re here to clear the top fifteen weight loss myths.
1. YOU CAN’T SPOT REDUCE
Possibly the king of weight loss myths, spot reduction has long been touted as impossible in fitness circles. While it’s true that you should focus on full-body weight loss, if you want to target your belly fat above all else, it’s entirely possible.
Recent studies have shown that by increasing blood flow to the area that you’d like to spot reduce, you can increase fat oxidation. The best way to do that? Exercise and a thermogenic waist trimmer belt. (1)
Focus on effective core exercises, not just sit-ups. Planks, woodchoppers, and bridges are great examples. While you are exercising or even if you are just sitting around the house, wear a waist trimmer belt. These belts are made with a special material that safely increases your body heat in the area you want to spot reduce fat.
2. WEIGHT LOST EQUALS FAT LOST
When someone says they want to lose weight, they are referring to the weight that is made up of stored fat. Just because the numbers on the scale have decreased doesn’t always mean you’ve lost fat mass.
If you recently started a new diet, the initial weight loss is primarily water weight. People who have a lot of excess weight to lose are often shocked by the initial drop, but this eventually tapers off into more realistic numbers.
Another possibility is muscle weight. If you place yourself on a very restrictive caloric diet (e.g., 1,000 calories or less) with low protein and little to no resistance training, then you could be losing muscle weight.
3. TRENDY DIETS ARE THE BEST OPTIONS
Trendy diets are labelled as “trendy” because they follow a here-today-gone-tomorrow pattern. The problem with trendy diets is most aren’t based on peer-reviewed research; most of the time, the success is anecdotal. Even worse, one cherry-picked part of a study may be used as the basis of a trendy diet.
Are there exceptions? Of course, the Atkins Diet and, more recently, the Ketogenic Diet began as trendy diets and have withstood the test of time and science.
If you’re going to begin a new hot-button topic diet, be sure to do your research. Ask yourself whether studies have been done on the diet and if results are genuine or just cherry picked. The great thing about the internet is that all of this information is widely available including peer-reviewed articles. We recommend searching on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website for studies.
4. LOW-CARB DIETS ARE THE ONLY PROVEN WEIGHT LOSS TOOL
Speaking of the Atkins Diet, many hardcore advocates of the low-carb lifestyle believe that it’s the only way to successfully lose weight and maintain weight loss. What works for some may not necessarily work for others.
Carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients with the other two being protein and fat. There’s no question about it: studies have shown that low-carbohydrate diets are very effective in promoting a healthy weight loss. What’s more, low-carb diets can help to keep off the weight when followed consistently. (2)
But to assume that it’s the only way to lose weight isn’t correct. It’s entirely possible to follow a high-carbohydrate diet and still lose weight. It’s a matter of eating the proper carbs and getting in enough exercise. Avoiding simple and processed carbs such as white rice, white bread, and candy, and engaging in a comprehensive workout program of resistance training and cardiovascular exercise can be just as effective as a low-carb diet.
5. FOCUSING ON SUDDEN AND LARGE CALORIE CUTS
Nutrition and controlling the number of calories you eat in a given day is a proven way to lose weight, but the last thing you want to do is immediately decrease your caloric consumption by half or more. Why? A drastic drop in calories could have the complete opposite effect as intended: you not losing weight.
A sudden and unexpected cut in your caloric intake could result in the body going into conservation mode. This is when your body hangs on to stored fat because it believes you may be at risk for starvation, and fatty tissue is a dense source of fuel.
If you want to lose weight, gradually decrease your caloric intake over time. Be sure to choose healthier options and increase your physical activity level. The latter refers to more than just exercise at the gym. Check out our article on tricks to lose fat outside of the gym that give you plenty of ideas for how to increase your activity level.
6. STAYING HUNGRY IS IDEAL FOR WEIGHT LOSS
While fasting is an excellent way to support weight loss and overall health, you don’t need to go hungry in order to lose weight.
It’s okay to eat small portions throughout the day to avoid troublesome hunger pangs, especially if you find that trying to skip meals usually ends with you binge eating later on. If you would rather skip out on feeling hungry, First, you’ll need to figure out how many calories you should be eating each day. You can do that with our article on how to calculate your calories.
Once you know how many calories you need to be eating to lose weight, divide that number by the number of meals you want to eat throughout the day. For example, let’s say your caloric intake is 2,000 calories for the day. Dividing that by six, you’ll want to eat about 300 calories per meal. You can use a meal tracker app like MyFitnessPal to make sure you stay within that number.
7. YOU CAN’T SKIP BREAKFAST
Some of us just can’t bring ourselves to eat a full meal shortly after waking. Despite what you may have been told for years, it’s okay to skip breakfast.
Studies show that there is no difference in weight loss between those who prefer breakfast and those who don’t. It really is a matter of preference. Some people find that their digestive systems aren’t ready to start working as soon as they wake up and so they wait until lunch. Others wake ready to starting eating. (3)
If you prefer skipping breakfast, we recommend trying intermittent fasting. This is when you abstain from eating food or calorie-based beverages for around sixteen hours. Most people stop eating by 8 p.m. and don’t start again until 12 p.m. the following day. During that eight-hour feeding window, they consume their calories for the day. Intermittent fasting has been show to be an effective and safe way to manage a healthy weight. (4)
8. EATING FAT CAUSES WEIGHT GAIN
It’s still one of the most asked questions in the fitness industry: Does eating fat make you fat? Assuming you’re consuming healthy fatty acids and not trans-fat, then the answer is absolutely not.
Healthy fatty acids are an essential part of any healthy diet. Your body, especially your brain, requires healthy fats to function properly. The Ketogenic Diet, which involves consuming eighty-percent fat, has been shown to result in a successful weight loss and weight management. It also improves glucose tolerance, decreases insulin resistance, and helps with stabilizing cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure. (5)
With that said, you want to avoid eating trans-fat, which is a type of processed fat used in baked goods and junk foods to ensure it’s ready to sit on a shelf. Saturated fat is also healthy, but limit your intake from animal-based sources.
9. NOT EATING IS BETTER THAN “FAST” FOOD
The idea here is that it’s better to skip a meal than risk unnecessary calories by going to a fast food place. If this was twenty years ago, you’d have a point. But as of the last decade, fast food restaurants have become surprisingly good at offering low-calorie options.
If it’s meal time and you need to eat in order to avoid binging later or staying within a feeding window, don’t rule out fast food. When visiting your local fast food place, go inside and read the menu that has the nutritional information listed. It’s required in most – if not all – establishments now.
A general rule: You can typically go with a baked lean protein like chicken and a salad with a low-calorie dressing without having to worry about ruining your diet.
10. “HEALTH” FOODS HELP WITH WEIGHT LOSS
Don’t be fooled by the marketing. Just because a brand says that it’s “healthy,” “green,” or “all-natural” does not mean it’s good for you or going to help with weight loss.
In general, many foods branded with one of those tag lines have removed something like fat and replaced it with sugar. “Green” juices are a great example of adding too much sugar to compensate for the bitter taste of vegetables. Not to mention that the bottled juices you buy in the store are not providing the nutrients they say they are. Once juiced, the product begins to immediately lose its nutritional value; hence why it’s important to do your own juicing at home.
Ignore the fancy labels and stick to the basics: eat a diet that is packed with a lot of vegetables and some fruits. Don’t forget about lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates.
11. EXERCISE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN DIET
No one is arguing the value of exercise in regards to the weight loss progress, but you can’t make up for a bad diet with exercise.
If you want to successfully lose weight and keep it off for the rest of your life, then you must have a firm hold on your diet and nutritional intake. If you believe that exercise can compensate for a bad diet, what happens when you aren’t able to continue your current exercise program due to work, injury, and old age?
Educate yourself and master how to eat. This is priceless knowledge that can transform your life and fitness goals. With that said, don’t neglect exercise. You don’t have to spend hours in a gym, but staying physically active every day – walking to work, taking the stairs, or parking further away – is very important for weight loss.
12. YOU MUST RUN FOR AN HOUR
Speaking of exercise, there is still a misconception that more is better. Sure, you can spend an hour or more jogging on a treadmill, but who has the time for that anymore? High intensity workouts can produce the same results as a long-duration, low-intensity workout, and they can do it in a fraction of the time.
High intensity interval training, better known as HIIT, has been shown to be effective for weight loss and improving cardiovascular health. Check out our article on high intensity training for weight loss to learn more about how to create your own HIIT workout.
13. YOU MUST USE SUPPLEMENTS
Supplements have become a staple for all fitness goals. Whether you want to improve your focus, build muscle, or increase sports conditioning, supplements can support you. When it comes to weight loss, there’s a misunderstanding that supplements are required in order to see progress. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
The foundation of any successful weight loss is diet and exercise. If you have a solid meal planner and workout program, you can achieve your goal. Supplements are there to supplement your progress. Some fat burning supplements can help to increase your metabolic rate and speed up results, but be careful.
Weight loss supplements might help you see progress in the short term, but you could gain the weight back if you stop taking them.
14. YOU CAN ONLY SEE PROGRESS ON THE SCALE
When you first start your weight loss journey, you’ll notice leaps and bounds in progress that you can see on the scale. After that initial burst of progress, your weekly weight loss will decrease to about a pound per week. Then there will be those weeks when the number stays the same. Does this mean you haven’t made progress? Not at all.
Remember that progress can be measured on the scale and in the inches you lose. Take notice of your clothes. Do they feel loose? Take a measuring tape and take note of how many inches you’ve lost at the thighs, hips, waist, chest, and upper arms.
15. YOU’LL NEVER LOSE WEIGHT
Achieving any fitness goal is a struggle. No matter if you want to build more muscle or burn fat, it’s difficult. The biggest myth of all is that you can’t achieve your goals.
It’s important that you keep going, even if it feels like you have hundreds of miles to go. Have a vision in your mind of what your body will look like and how you’ll feel once you achieve your weight loss goal. Everyone has good and bad days, and we guarantee that everyone has struggled with weight loss at some point on their journey. The difference? Those who succeeded kept pushing.
Don’t believe your success is a myth; it’s possible if you believe it is.
WHICH WEIGHT LOSS MYTHS DID YOU BELIEVE?
Who hasn’t believed one or more of these weight loss myths? Is there one in particular that you had believed for a long time? Let us know on our Facebook!