By: Taylor Empey, Nationally Certified Fitness Trainer and Nutrition Specialist
ISSA – CFT, SFN, SET, SSN, and Elite Trainer Level I
Everywhere you turn there’s another headline about how to lose weight and shave off fat. Many of these eye-catching headlines are myths, plain and simple. And if you’re not careful, they can suck you in and spit you out, without helping you lose any weight at all.
What myths are out there waiting to trick you? Here are seven that you’re most likely to come up against.
Fat Loss Myth #1: You Need to Work Out Every Day
A little bit of working out will help you lose a little bit of weight, so a lot will help a lot…right? Possibly. If your “little bit” of working out involves taking a walk from your living room to your mailbox, ramping up to a jog around the neighborhood, then everyday is a good thing. However, if you’re pushing it hard at the gym five days a week, adding another two days isn’t a great idea. Not only do you increase your chance for overuse injury, but you don’t give your body time to recover. If your body can’t recover, you can’t get your peak performance every day, making it harder to burn fat.
Fat Loss Myth #2: No Coffee!
For many people, having to drop coffee is unbearable. Fortunately, if you’re a coffee lover and you’re trying to lose weight, you don’t have to give up your hot caffeinated goodness altogether. What you WILL need to do is cut the sugar and creamer. Once you get used to the taste of black coffee, you may find that drinking a cup half an hour before your workout will actually propel you to your best sessions ever.
Fat Loss Myth #3: Slow Is Better
Slow-moving folks rejoiced at the idea that a slower pace could mean more fat burned. And while moving slower—walking instead of running—may seem more appealing, there is a problem. Because moving at a faster pace and pushing yourself harder will always burn more calories in less time. Of course, if you plan to walk at a moderate pace for three hours, you will burn more than if you sprint 100 yards and call it quits. But if you can sprint 100 yards, walk 20 yards, and then sprint again, repeating the process for an hour, you’ll easily shed more calories, fat, and pounds, than just going for a walk.
Fat Loss Myth #4: Cardio Is All You Need
Want to lose weight? Good. You’ll need to get some cardiovascular exercise. But don’t buy into the idea that cardio is all you need to lose weight. If you don’t lift weights or do some sort of strength training, your aerobic workouts will eventually work to burn off your muscle as well as fat. In the end, this means less strength and a lower metabolism—both which could lead to an inability to maintain a workout routine.
Fat Loss Myth #5: Your Workout Should Be Killer
Ever feel your workout didn’t work you hard enough? If you’re improving and increasing, don’t sweat it. That’s just a sign that your body is growing stronger and better able to handle whatever you throw at it. While many think a workout isn’t good unless it leaves you unable to stand up straight or lift a book, don’t believe the hype. Pushing your body so hard that you can’t function after a workout may give you mental assurance that you’re working hard, but it’s putting you at extreme risk for extreme injury.
Fat Loss Myth #6: Heat Burns More
Slide this one under the heading “Stranger Than Fiction,” but according to research, those hot yoga classes may not be paying off like you expect. Strangely, they found that people who slept in a colder environment increased their weight loss ability substantially more than those who slept in a warmer temperature. Granted, the study involved sleeping and not exercising, but the chill should transfer to your workouts. Get the temp turned down a notch for a month or two and see if there are any changes!
Fat Loss Myth #7: There Are Negative-Calorie Foods
Whether you’ve bought into the myth or not, you’ve likely heard that certain foods—celery is a favorite—burn more calories via digestion than they contain. So if you eat nothing but celery, you’ll burn more calories than you consume, which catapults your weight-loss ability into the heavens. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Celery is low in calories, but you couldn’t survive on it if there was no other food available.