The Truth About Fat Loss: 8 Misconceptions and Lies

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Obesity is a major crisis today. It must be recognized as not only a cosmetic issue but also an issue that pertains to overall health. As obesity levels (Body Mass Index) rise several problems such as coronary health disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes etc. also become more widespread. A study conducted by Stanford Health Care shows that “35% of men and 31% of women are considered seriously overweight” (Stanford Health Care, 2015). It’s no wonder why fat loss is one of the most common fitness goals when individuals sign up at the gym. It’s a simple task to do, however since the industry is saturated with misleading information. Numerous large corporations have spent millions of dollars to lobby for their products. They publish misleading information that conveniently directs people towards their product line. At the same time, there’s just a simple misconception about exactly how an individual can lose weight.

As an athlete, and personal trainer I have seen some strange work-outs and insane diets. Here is the great news for you! Losing weight, getting fit and enjoying the thousands of benefits getting in shape is very simple and anyone can reach their fitness goals. All you need to do is do the right tasks, its like baking a cake, if you follow the correct instructions using the right ingredients, you will get the results you are looking for!

Let me tell you about the 10 most common mistakes and lies that is out there.


1. ​ Long Lengths of Cardio Burns Fat.

One of the most commonly made associations is with cardio and fat loss. Yes, cardio burns fat, as doing any type of activity will allow you to burn calories, and fat. However, doing low intensity stead state (LISS) type of exercises will not help you lose stubborn fats such as belly fat quickly. In addition, it will not help you build muscles which are essential to your body, as well as fat loss.

The topic of fat loss is so much more complex than simply burning calories. There are many other elements that we must consider. Recent studies have shown that certain hormones are present in your body that cause your body to retain fat. It’s important to make sure that when you work out, you are performing the right type of exercises that stimulate these hormones. For fat-loss LISS is not the most effective solution. “These kinds (steady state exercise) of protocols have led to negligible weight loss” (Boutcher, High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss, 2010). Performing LISS type workouts reduces your fat burning hormones as it depletes your muscles.

Instead of a LISS work-out a more effective approach is high intensity interval training (HIIT). HIIT work-outs involve compound exercises (weights or body weight) put together in a circuit. Each circuit is completed at a high work-rate with short breaks in between sets. This style of training stimulates hypertrophy as well as hormone creation for stimulating fat loss. “Catecholamine response is an important feature of this type of exercise as catecholamine have been shown to drive lipolysis and are largely responsible for fat release from both subcutaneous and intramuscular fat stores” (Boutcher, High-Intensity Intermittent Excercise and Fat Loss, 2010). In addition, greater overall muscular mass increases your body’s Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). “There was a 7% increase in absolute resting metabolic rate (RMR) in response to strength training” (Jeffrey T. Lemmer, 2001). A higher BMR/RMR allows your body to increase the base quantity of calories your body burns without performing any activity. This basically means when you stop working out, you’re still going to be burning more calories are you go about your day! A sample of a great HIIT workout can be found here and


2. ​ Muscles make me Look Bulky (Females).

This is dedicated for just women, but it’s such a huge misconception that it must be discussed. A lot of women fear performing weights, for the fear that they will look manly. Women and men are fundamentally built differently, women are not pumped full of testosterone and will not bulk up the way men will. Performing weighted exercises, or even dynamic movements will help you build tight, dense strong muscle. Yes, you will gain muscles, but you will never look like a man. If you pick up weights you will just build nice lean compact muscles that are crucial to prevent injuries such as lower back pains. In addition, muscles helps you burn fat.

Yes, muscles burn fat!!!

When your muscular mass increases, your body’s overall metabolic rate will increase and you will start to burn more calories by doing the same day to day activities. Essentially, you are still burning calories, when you stop working out.


3.​ Eggs are Bad for You

Eggs possess high level of nutrients as it is responsible for bringing a baby chick to life. An egg is packed with numerous nutrients that are beneficial to our bodies. There is a common misconception that egg’s, specifically egg yolk contains a high level of cholesterol and can cause health complications if you eat too many of them. The gray area is that we cannot group all cholesterol into one category. “Low density lipoprotein (LDL) has been associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular complications” (Ying Rong, 2013) and thus a lower LDL cholesterol level is attributed with lower cardiovascular health complications. The question now becomes, do eggs contribute to LDL cholesterol?


It’s the opposite. Eggs provide High Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (HDL) which is associated with lower cardiovascular issues. “Dietary cholesterol from eggs could increase plasma concentration of high density lipoprotein cholesterol, which has been suggested to protect against vascular disease” (Ying Rong, 2013). So, for all you egg lovers out there, continue eating them!

Numerous research conducted has shown that eggs are healthy and have no impact to our cholesterol. “Results from meta-analysis do not support that higher egg consumption is associated with elevated risk of coronary heart disease and stroke” (Ying Rong, 2013).  So, make eggs a part of your nutrition plan!


4.​ Saturated Fats are Bad for You.

Numerous companies (sugar industry) have spent millions of dollars to lobby against connecting sugar and an array of health-related issues (heart, obesity, etc.). Their scape goat? Saturated fats. As a result, there is a huge misunderstanding of fats. The reality is that there are numerous societies such as the Urban Bantu Tanzanians whose diets are extremely high in saturated fats, yet possess low rates of coronary heart disease. In addition, numerous studies have shown that there is no correlation between the intake of saturated fats and heart related issues. “Saturated fat intake was not associated with an elevated risk of CHD, stroke” (Siri-Tarino PW, 2010). Fats from sources such as fish, and avocados are amazing for you and help you burn fat away from your body by stimulating muscle recovery.


5.​ You Need to Work-Out a Lot to See Results.

Many people assume that they need to spend long hours in the gym. This is quite far the truth, all you need to do is train properly, three – four times a week for about 20 – 30 minutes. This is literally under two hours a week! The catch is that you must understand how to train properly. A proper workout program and a healthy diet filled with natural wholesome foods is going to get you to your fitness goals quickly.

The change to the fitness lifestyle is a lifestyle change, so to be successful it must be permeant. To make a habit, it takes at least 21 days, so if an individual is going on an extreme diet, or exercising until their bodies are shutting down then that’s not the healthy lifestyle!

6.​ You Need to Starve Yourself/Count Calories.

A lot of people associate weight loss with boring, bland and hard to eat foods. This is just far from the truth. To successfully develop a healthy lifestyle, you must understand how to pick your food so that you are eating delicious, nutritious and healthy foods. This does not mean you need to starve yourself, in fact that’s completely the opposite. When you starve yourself, you slow down your metabolism and your body burns less calories because it thinks that it is being starved!

Not all calories are created equal. Our bodies react differently to the consumption of different types and categories of food. Certain foods (proteins) will trigger muscular recover while others will spike our blood sugar levels and pump out more insulin. Insulin is the hormone responsible for retaining fat, so when your blood sugar spikes, you stop burning fat. So if you want to get fit, you need to eat more! You need to eat healthy and wholesome foods and stay focused on your nutrition plans.

7.​​ Whole Wheat is Healthy.

White bread or simple carbs have a very high glycemic level. High glycemic foods increase our blood sugar once we consume the food. Whole wheat bread and white board have a very similar glycemic rating. When our blood sugar rises, our level of insulin also rises. Insulin is created in our pancreas to deliver the glucose into our blood, so when we have an increase amount of glucose our insulin increase. Insulin is also our fat storing hormone, when your insulin level rises, it stops your body from burning fat. Therefore, both white bread and whole wheat bread, affects your body’s ability to burn fat. Instead of consuming carbs in processed forms, it is more beneficial to consume them from natural sources such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, or any other starchy foods.

8.​ “Getting Fit” is Based on my Scale.

So, we have probably all heard this line “I have been working out and eating well but I am not losing any weight!”. I heard this probably once a week from my clients, and I tell them all the same thing. Don’t judge yourself based on your scale, first, if you are new to working out and start training properly you may gain weight. I don’t even tell my clients to judge themselves on how they look at a specific time because they can fluctuate. In the morning’s, we tend to look leaner, or after a meal you can be more bloated. It’s important to judge how you feel, and how well you can move. The weight loss, muscles, abs, are a byproduct of the healthy lifestyle, first live the healthy lifestyle and the byproducts will come.

Mike Zhang is a fitness, health and striking coach and founder of his breakthrough program FSK-12. With over 10 years of experience as an athlete and personal trainer he possesses a vast amount of information pertaining to weight loss, nutrition, boxing/kickboxing and overall fitness. He was the 2011 TBA-SA B-Class Champion, 2014 USMTO Open Class Silver Medalist and York Muay Thai Athlete of the Year in 2014. He worked as a personal trainer at a local commercial gym and assistant coach at his Muay Thai gym.