7 Fat Loss Myths Debunked

Last updated on January 3, 2024

The fat loss industry is rife with untruths, fake facts, and outright myths. Unless you break through them and start understanding the real facts on fat loss, you will never succeed with your weight loss goals. That’s why our fat loss series of lessons begins with some myth busting.

Here are the 7 biggest fat loss myths – and the real facts you need to know.

1. All Weight Loss is Good


The obsession with losing weight has become so pervasive that most people take it for granted. But all weight loss is NOT good.

Until you learn to distinguish between weight loss and fat loss, you will be spinning your wheels. You will be obsessed with the media-driven obsession with getting your scale weight down whatever the cost. And that is the biggest error that the diet industry perpetuates. For over a century they have sold us on the lie that your diminishing weight on the scale is your sure sign of success. Just think of shows like The Biggest Loser. Nothing else matters but getting that scale down.

The truth is that you should never be interested in losing pure weight. Being obsessed with bringing your weight on the scale is dumb – pure and simple.

The bathroom scale cannot differentiate between muscle and fat. Nor can it tell if you are losing water or vital minerals. All it can tell you is that your overall body weight has gone down. That, in itself, is a useless piece of information.

You never want to lose muscle. Yet, on most calorie-restricted diets that is exactly what you are losing. Muscle is a lot denser than fat. So, when a person’s body goes into starvation response because they have severely cut back their caloric intake, the body turns to its muscle stores and starts to catabolize itself.

When you step on the sale, you feel elated. The scale has come down. But what have you actually done to your body? You have robbed it of its body shaping, firming, strength-enhancing muscle mass. Meanwhile, all of your fat is still there, where it’s always been.

Reduced calorie diets will also squeeze water weight from your body, especially in the initial stages. We’ve already discussed the vital importance of water in the body, so you know that is not a good thing. Yet, again it fools people into thinking that they are losing body-fat.

It was Albert Einstein who said the definition of insanity was doing the same thing and expecting a different result. It’s time to ditch the diet mentality.

Don’t you think the low calorie diet marketers have been scamming us for long enough?

It’s time to get smarter and focus on what really works for long term fat loss.

Fat Loss Bottom Line: Forget about losing weight and focus on fat loss


2. Weight Loss Powders and Pills Can Permanently Shed Body Fat


The fat loss industry is worth trillions ( that’s 12 zeros!) of dollars. The corporate world is creaming it from people’s obsession with a quick fix for fat loss. One of the ways that large corporations get rich at your expense is by marketing miracle fat loss pills, powders and shakes that promise remarkable results.

The truth is that no pill, powder or shake will EVER get you lean. It doesn’t matter which ‘breakthrough’ herbal fat loss has been added to a product, it’s effect will be negligible at best. Some herbs do have a legitimate thermogenic effect, with the potential to increase fat burning by 30-50 calories over the course of a day. But it takes 3,500 calories to burn off a pound of fat. At that rate, it would take more than 3 months just to lose a pound of fat. And it would cost hundreds of dollars! [1]

Supplements are not a replacement for real, whole food. In addition, many of the ingredients that are packed into these miracle fat loss compounds are downright dangerous. All you have to do is to take a look at the fine print at the bottom of the glossy ads that sell these products. You’ll find a long list of disclaimers and warnings.

Fat Loss Bottom Line: Don’t waste your money on fat loss supplements


3. Long Slow Cardio is the Best Way to Burn Calories


Millions of people pound the treadmills of gyms all over the world every day, hoping to melt away the pounds – and getting very little result for their efforts. The long, slow approach to exercise is not only boring – it simply doesn’t work! [2]

There has to be a better way!

There is. It’s called HIIT and if you aren’t doing it, it’s about time you started.

Most people who exercise to lose weight are operating off the more is better mindset. As a result, the vast majority of them are in an overtrained state. Not only will that curtail the body’s natural fat burning mechanisms, it will, more than likely, result in burnout, lack of motivation and workouts that become a drudgery rather than a delight.

In order to burn the maximum amount of calories, and therefore burn the maximum amount of fat, during your workouts you need two things:

  • Intensity
  • Brevity

In fact, these two go hand in hand. Think of running. You can do a slow jog for a long time, but up the intensity to an all out sprint and you’ll be lucky to stick it out for more than a minute.

When it comes to working out to torch body fat the equivalent of an all out sprint is known as High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT has hit the headlines over recent years because a whole raft of studies have shown conclusively that it is a far superior form of fat loss exercises than either regular aerobic exercise or resistance training. [3]

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is all about hard, fast, and intense training. A typical HIIT workout will see you do short intense sprints for 20-30 seconds, followed by even shorter rest periods.

As you can imagine, HIIT is a lot harder, and a lot shorter than traditional steady-state cardio.

If you jump on an exercise cycle and do a traditional slow to medium cardio session you might burn 400 calories in your session. Jump on the same cycle the next day and do an intense HIIT program and you might burn 420 calories.

Big deal, you say.

The real difference between normal cardio and HIIT is that with slow cardio, the calorie burn essentially stops when you hop off the cycle. With HIIT training, however, the main benefits actually come after your workout is over. This is due to a phenomenon known as EPOC, which stands for Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption. [4]

EPOC is commonly known as the after-burn effect. It means that your body keeps on burning calories at a higher rate than normal after your workout is over. This keeps going for between 16 and 24 hours after your training session is over. For that reason, you shouldn’t pay too much attention to the calorie counter on the machine that you are working on – that is just the start of the story! [5]

Fat Loss Bottom Line: Ditch the Long Slow Cardio in favor of HIIT


4. Weight Training Will NOT Burn Fat


This myth is so pervasive that it has made a lot of people afraid of touching weights. They think that they will turn them into muscle bound gorillas – and that they will do nothing for their fat loss. Nothing could be further from the truth.                                                                                                                       

Sure, weights will build muscle. But they’ll also burn fat. In fact, recent studies indicate that, if done smartly, weight training can burn more calories than most forms of cardiovascular exercise. In the process it will allow you to transform your physique – to lift, tone and sculpt loose sagging body parts and strategically build muscle. [6]

Muscle tissue is metabolically active. That means that it takes energy just to maintain the muscle that is on your body. That is not the case with body fat – it is simply a form of stored energy. The more muscle that you have on your body, the more energy you will require – and that means the more fat you will burn. But it won’t just burn that body fat while you are working out – it will burn the fat ALL DAY LONG.

And that is the secret to long term rapid fat loss. The ability to burn more calories even while you are at rest will greatly accelerate your results. After all, you can only be exercising for so long. The ability to ramp it up 24/7 is the key to your success.

Fat Loss Bottom Line: Start a regular weight training program NOW

5. You Can Spot Reduce Body Fat


The infomercial channels are relentlessly pushing out a never ending stream of gadgets that promise to remove body fat from specific parts of your body. It’s usually the abs, thighs and sides of the waist (those dreaded love handles). And every night, they end up selling out of stock to gullible and desperate people.

So, let’s make it clear right now – it is scientifically impossible to spot reduce body fat. As you know, fat is stored energy. When you burn off energy it doesn’t come from one particular area, such as the area that you are exercising. It will come off uniformly from all areas of the body. [7]

To achieve real fat loss, you need to do the following:

  • Regular intense cardio and resistance training
  • Balanced Nutrition

Any gadget that you see on an infomercial is a waste of money. DO NOT be sucked in by the slick presentations or the ‘supposed’ scientific backing. You don’t need them because they do not work.


Fat Loss Bottom Line: Switch Off the TV when The Infomercials Come On


6. To Lose Weight, You Need to Kill It in the Gym


Largely because people have bought into the plethora of fat loss myths that pervade the landscape, they get the idea that they are not succeeding because they’re not working hard enough in the gym. As a result, they end up performing marathon, two-hour workout sessions – and still not getting anywhere.

The truth is that you need to put the work in at the gym – but you don’t have to go crazy. That will only lead to overtraining, which will result in a loss of muscle tissue. Long term fat loss essentially comes down to, most importantly, what you are putting into your body. Secondary to that is what you are doing to burn calories. If you are following a healthy diet, then you don’t need to spend two hours in the gym, because your body doesn’t need to burn that much energy.

The belief that you need to sweat blood in the gym makes a lot of people too scared to even start. Don’t become one of them. The best time to start an exercise program is right now – and, yes, you can do it at your level. While your program will have to be progressive over time to keep seeing progress, you don’t have to beat yourself to a pulp every time you step through the gym door.

Bottom Line: Make exercise something to look forward to rather than to dread.


7. You Can Out-train a Bad Diet


Have you ever been tempted by a delicious blueberry muffin while out shopping? Did you rationalize that you’re going to the gym later, so you’ll burn those extra calories off (you probably also reasoned that it contained blueberries, so must be healthy!).

It’s human nature to rationalize our situation in order to get what we want in the moment. We all do it all the time. However, when it comes to food and exercise, it just doesn’t work. That blueberry muffin is going to add about 385 calories to your body. To burn it off, you’d have to be working out for about 43 minutes. That’s just to get you back to a zero-calorie balance for your session. If you’re working out properly your workout should only take around 45 minutes. So, that means that your blueberry muffin indulgence has just negated the total effect of your workout for that day – was it really worth it?

Temptation is common to all of us. However, you can fortify yourself to resist the wrong food choices by reciting a couple of choice phrases . . .

Tell yourself that every time you eat, you have the opportunity to either make your body better or to make it worse.

When you pass by a den of calorie and sugar-laden delights tell yourself, ‘That doesn’t apply to me.”

Fat Loss Bottom Line: Don’t Fool Yourself – You Cannot Out-Train a Bad Diet


  1. http://oregonstate.edu/ua/ncs/archives/2012/mar/study-most-weight-loss-supplements-are-not-effective
  2. Boutcher SH. High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss. J Obes. 2011;2011:868305. doi: 10.1155/2011/868305. Epub 2010 Nov 24. PMID: 21113312; PMCID: PMC2991639.
  3. Journal Strength Conditioning Research, 26:138-145, 2012
  4. Physiological Reports, 1 , 2012
  5. Journal Strength Conditioning Research, 26:138-145, 2012
  6. Willis LH, Slentz CA, Bateman LA, Shields AT, Piner LW, Bales CW, Houmard JA, Kraus WE. Effects of aerobic and/or resistance training on body mass and fat mass in overweight or obese adults. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2012 Dec 15;113(12):1831-7. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01370.2011. Epub 2012 Sep 27. PMID: 23019316; PMCID: PMC3544497.
  7. http://www.yalescientific.org/2011/04/targeted-fat-loss-myth-or-reality/

Steve Theunissen has qualified from the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and is a certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist. He has over 30 years experience in fitness and nutrition and currently working with famous fitness professionals. He is currently living in New Zealand with is wife and daughter.

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