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12 Days of Fitness 2014: Day 1 – Weight Loss Myths That Kill Your Progress

December 10, 2014 0 Comments

(This is Part 1 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

imagesLosing weight is no easy task. Let’s face it, if it were easy everyone would have success that put forth the effort.  Add to it the constant bombardment of conflicting advice, and it’s enough to make even the most determined lifestyle changer get discouraged. I make it a point with my clients and those who are willing to listen that until you put the facts ahead of the myths, you’re waging a war that has no positive outcome. Here are some of the most common weight loss myths that get perpetuated over and over again. It’s time to get real and put an end to spinning in circles – eat the facts and expel the myths!

You Have to Be Perfect With Your Diet to Get Results

There’s no need for perfection; just to be better. If you can focus on eating healthy 80-90% of the time and allow yourself to indulge 10-20% of the time, you’ll be better off, and as the expression goes, “you can have your cake and eat it too. An “all or nothing” approach doesn’t work and if you claim to be that kind of person I only ask, “How has that worked for you?” Practice portion control and maintain a reasonable calorie deficit.

If the Scale Doesn’t Change You’re Not Making Progress

Weight loss isn’t linear and can fluctuate several pounds a day due to changes in water, hormones, glycogen stores, and food eaten. You can still lose fat without losing weight. Body composition is more important than the number on the scale. In addition, don’t assume all your hard work is for nothing. Positive changes are occurring on the inside of your body even if the scale doesn’t reflect that, and that’s progress. Don’t live and die by the scale. It is A measure; not THE measure.

You Need to Create a 500-1000 Calorie Deficit to Start Losing Weight

This is the oldest one in the book that by creating a 500 calorie daily deficit will result in a 1lb weight loss per week. If only it were that simple. If that were indeed the case, the person who is successful with that basic calculation overtime would eventually wilt away to nothing! Weight loss momentum can get started with as little as a 100-200 calorie deficit, and doing so will leave you plenty of room to further cut calories when your weight loss plateaus. Always try to eat as many calories as possible that will enable you to still lose weight. Dropping too low or consuming not enough calories will have a detrimental effect in the long run – guaranteed.

You Must Eat 6 Meals a Day to Lose Weight

While there is nothing inherently wrong with eating 6 meals a day, it is not necessary to lose weight. Studies have shown no significant difference between 3 meals per day vs 6 meals per day. All things being equal (calories, macronutrients, etc.), meal frequency will have little impact on your results. Instead, choose a meal frequency that best fits into your own individual lifestyle, as that will be key to keeping you consistent with your weight loss.

You Have to Cut the Fat to Lose the Fat

This concept spawned an entire industry and an irrational fear. It’s true that fat has more calories per gram than any other macronutrient, and reducing your fat intake is an easy way to cut calories. But lowering your fat too low can cause you more harm than good. Fats are an essential macronutrient. You must get them externally from your diet (specifically essential fatty acids), as your body cannot manufacture them on its own. Not to mention, fats play vital roles in your body such as maintaining optimal hormone levels, lubricating joints, and assimilating fat-soluble vitamins. Fat IS NOT your enemy!

Losing Weight is Always Healthy

Weight loss and getting healthier are not one-in-the-same and that’s an important concept to understand. In reality, you can be skinny and unhealthy, just as you can be overweight and healthy. Weight and health are two independent goals to work on. While there is generally a correlation between losing weight and being healthier, variables such as the quality of your diet, whether or not you exercise, and the use of dangerous fat loss supplements can negatively affect your health even if you’re still losing weight. To lose weight and be healthy, you must create a healthy calorie deficit, eat a diet high in nutrients, exercise regularly, and take care of your mental health.

You Need to Exercise in the Fat-Burning Zone if You Want to Burn Fat

One of my all-time favorites. While exercising in this zone might help you burn more fat during your workout (at the cellular level), total calories burned at the end of the day is the real determining factor in fat loss. That means anaerobic exercise and strength training can be equally effective at fat loss (or more so) when an equal amount of calories are burned. Plus, strength training builds muscle, which increases your metabolic rate and fat loss during times of the day when you’re not exercising.

Spot Training Will Burn Fat in That Particular Area

If the fat burning zone is my favorite, this is a close second.  The most common culprits are sit-ups and crunches that people will painstakingly engage in with the hopes that it will tighten up their midsection but they will unfortunately have zero effect unless your diet is in check. Fat loss is not localized – it is systemic in nature. Whether you’re doing squats, sit-ups, or running, fat is mobilized from all parts of the body and then metabolized in the muscle. Think of it this way – you didn’t get to choose where the fat went on, and you don’t get to choose where the fat comes off. Body fat is a single organism. Your body fat percentage either increases or decreases as a whole, and where it comes off is more a function of hormones and genetics. Create a calorie deficit, get active by exercising your entire body, and then be patient.

See you tomorrow for Day 2 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.


Filed in: Fitness, Weight Loss • Tags: , , ,

About the Author:

Jeff Harrison is a fitness coach based in Pottstown, PA. He received a BS in Exercise and Sport Science from Penn State University and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), NSCA Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) and ACE Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist (ACE-AHFS). Jeff's articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals as well as consumer oriented websites and magazines.

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