There are many myths and beliefs associated with weight loss, some true and some false. Many of them are believed to be true according to people but can’t be proved by science. In this article, we will list the most common myths that people spread by discussing or browsing the internet but end up being false. Living by these myths can prove to be damaging for weight loss if you keep focusing on the wrong things.
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This is one of the biggest myths in weight loss that still many tend to believe in. It is a belief that doing some specific exercises will reduce the fat over certain areas of the body. For example, if you want to burn fat from your stomach you should focus on doing as many abdominal muscle movements as possible. This is unfortunately not true. The truth is that fat burns overall from the body and it is impossible to focus it on just one area. In this case, abdominal exercises wouldn’t help in burning fat around the stomach because heart rate doesn’t rise enough for it to be a proper fat burning exercise.1
10 000 steps per day
Another popular myth is taking 10 000 steps per day in order to lose weight or stay in shape. Even though this might sound like a reasonable goal to have, 10 000 is not a magical number. The number is believed to be set by a pedometer manufacturer in Japan during the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. The pedometer became very famous and people started to be obsessed with walking 10 000 steps per day and saying that it was the ultimate way to weight loss. However, if you have so far taken around 2 500 steps per day you would start seeing benefits if you raised that goal to 5 000 steps per day instead. 10 000 steps might seem too ambitious especially if your BMI is high and you haven’t walked a lot before. In this case, it is better to set an easier goal.2
Eating at night
The idea for this myth is that if you eat late at night you gain weight because eating just before sleeping won’t help you to burn the calories. However, this is not true because it doesn’t matter when you eat and when you burn the calories. The only thing that matters in weight loss is the amount of energy you eat and the amount you burn, when it happens doesn’t matter.3
Are you surprised that 5-a-day is, in fact, a myth? It’s said to be outdated and thus, we should change it to an 8-a-day instead. According to a study, the people who ate eight or more portions of fresh food a day had a 22 per cent lower chance of dying from heart disease. However, they might have healthier lifestyles in general. Moreover, being overweight opposes people to different diseases.4
Meat should be avoided
Meat contains proteins which are important in maintaining muscle mass, especially during weight loss so that muscle mass doesn’t decrease. In addition, protein keeps you full for longer. Often times it is more beneficial to eat white meat instead of red meat and avoid deep-fried or very fatty meats. Moreover, meat is not a necessity as there are other ways of getting all the proteins. All in all, eating meat doesn’t affect weight loss negatively.
In fasting, you eat little to no food at all. It doesn’t help you to lose weight at least in the long term, thus it is a complete weight loss myth. When you start fasting, the body goes into conservation mode and burns calories slower than in a regular state. In addition, it is impossible to maintain this kind of a diet in a long run. If you aim to lose weight, you should definitely eat enough but also focus on healthy and versatile foods in order to have as many nutrients as possible and less empty calories.5
Fat/carbohydrates/protein makes you gain weight
There are no nutrients in itself that would make you gain weight, however, excessive energy intake will. In addition, we all need fats, carbohydrates and proteins which is why avoiding them is not a good idea for weight loss or health in general. If you want to lose weight you should eat until you don’t feel hungry anymore so that you won’t consume too many calories. If you are using other medications that contain orlistat, like Xenical, you should remember to eat low-fat food.
Again, you should remember that the overall amount counts. The problem with low-fat products is that the lack of taste is often replaced with other ingredients such as sugar, flour, thickeners and salt. This is why you should pay attention to the nutritional value of the product and not only if it is fat-free. In addition, these fat-free products are often not as satisfying which means that you end up eating more than you otherwise would have. This is of course not good for someone on a weight loss journey.6
Drinking water helps you lose weight
It is quite common to hear that if you are trying to lose weight you should drink a lot of water because it fastens the metabolism. It is believed that when water fills the stomach you don’t feel hunger as much as you would without drinking the water. Neither of these statements is true. Water doesn’t have any nutrients which is why it cannot hold hunger for long and the effect of water on metabolism is so insignificant that it doesn’t affect weight loss. However, it is good to drink a few litres of water per day in order to maintain the right fluid balance but not because it would help in losing weight.7
The fat-burning zone
Many believe that the body burns more fat when exercising happens on a certain heart rate zone, called the ‘fat-burning zone’. According to this myth, exercising on a heart rate zone that is higher than the fat-burning zone is less effective in regards to weight loss. Thus, this is not true. However, it is true that when you work out at 55 to 70 percent of your max HR, your body uses more fat than carbohydrates for fuel.8 Despite this, exercising on a higher HR zone burns more calories from glycogen and not fat. However, if the body burns more fat during exercise it will consume more glycogen after exercise and vice versa. This means that the fat burning zone is just a myth. At the end of the day, it is important to exercise regularly.
Cold drinks and foods
According to this myth, cold foods and drinks make the body work harder in order to produce heat because cold beverages and meals decrease the body temperature. Unfortunately, this is not true. The body will spend energy in order to achieve this but only a few calories that don’t have any effect on weight loss.9
Fat burn happens on an empty stomach
This myth suggests that working out on an empty stomach burns more fat for energy. However, this is not true because nourishment before exercising leads to more energy and thus, more intense workouts. Exercising on an empty stomach will not help in getting rid of that muffin top because what the body does first is to start breaking down sugars in the muscle tissue because it doesn’t want to use its fat reserves.10