There are a lot of fat loss myths doing the rounds, especially on social media. So I have compiled what are, in my opinion, the top 5 fat loss myths so you can be a bit clearer when you are trying to hit your fat loss goals.
1. The less you eat the thinner you will be
Firstly, there is a difference in being thin and having low body fat. I have clients who come to me who look lean in appearance but have a high percentage body fat – particularly around the organs (visceral fat).
Eating less than 1200 calories a day can have a negative impact on fat loss. All the key fat burning hormones down-regulate your metabolism to protect your fuel storage meaning you’ll burn less calories.
2. I’m training 3-4 times a week – so I can eat more
Eating more as a reward for training is a common fat loss saboteur. Entitlement, compensation, reward, call it what you want, but most people compensate for any calories burned by eating more. Most people grossly overestimate how many calories they have burned during exercise. Many years ago, I trained and ran marathons and became fatter instead of leaner. I hadn’t a clue that I was merely scratching at the surface in terms of burning off the calories that I was eating. I thought because I was running for miles each week that I could eat whatever I wanted, big mistake and lesson learned!
3. My friend must have a high metabolism because she can eat so much more than me and stay skinny!
Chances are that your friend is eating the correct calories to maintain her weight, even though those calories are not coming from healthy sources, otherwise the excess energy would be stored as body fat. Sometimes we kid ourselves as to the amount of calories we eat. It may appear that we don’t eat very much compared to others – but the food we are eating could be very high in calories. It is not until we start tracking our food and calories that we can see clearly how many calories we are actually eating.
4. Fat will make you fat
If your cupboards or fridge is stockpiled with fat free, low fat, diet products then watch out! Fat is crucial for reproductive health in women. It’s critical for the creation of hormones and good hormone health and balance. Secondly, if you’re not eating fat, chances are you are probably eating carbs, and we covered the problems with an all the time high carb diet.
The solution is to start adding a good fat into every meal. If your food choice already contains fat, for example fish or eggs, then you’re all set. Just add a portion of vegetables or fruit and you’re in business. Alternatively, if you’re eating a lean meat (for example chicken) then add some nuts, seeds or avocado for fat.
5. Protein will bulk me up
The most common worry from ladies who attend my training and nutrition coaching is that protein will somehow bulk you up, a common remark is “I thought it was for weightlifters”. Females seem to run a mile when you mention protein as they believe they will end up looking like Arnie back in the day, and are also scared to death of gaining weight.
If you want to get leaner, increase your strength and burn more fat, then listen up – get more protein into your diet!
Why is it so important? Well, it’s a critical nutrient that accounts for 20% of your body weight. It has a thermic effect which means that it can burn off more calories through the digestion process (with an increase in metabolism) than carbs or fats. For example, a 200 calorie chicken breast, once digested, can have net calories of just 140cals, that’s a 30% burn off in calories just by the thermic effect alone. It would take you 20 minutes of moderate paced walking to burn off the same calories. It also helps balance out blood sugar, so that craving for the 4 o’clock biscuit with your cup of tea won’t be as strong. Finally, protein supports recovery from training and speeds up repair of muscles. Personally, and from experience with clients, it’s the improvement in insulin sensitivity, the lack of sugar cravings and the reduction in that desire for sugar that makes protein a big winner for me. I feel that eating adequate protein helps control the appetite and sugar cravings that lead to over-eating and extra fat storage – particularly around the tummy region.
If you like to take your workouts seriously, you want to get stronger and an all-round leaner body composition, do not neglect protein in your diet.