There are a lot of persistent myths about how to train and eat for fat loss. People stubbornly cling to them, training and eating the same way despite getting little or no results.
Let's take a look at some of the most popular myths and give you some fixes for each one.
Fat Loss Myth #1: The best exercise to lose fat is low intensity cardio.
This myth is being chipped away little by little, but it doesn't want to go away quietly. The truth is spending an hour on the treadmill or elliptical machine should be your last, not first choice for losing body fat.
And it's not limited to the treadmill or elliptical. This is true of any low intensity cardio. Here's why.
Your muscles have to continuously contract for 30, 45 or 60 minutes. They need energy for each of these contractions (repetitions). Well your body is stubborn. It doesn't want to burn fat for energy so it gets the energy by eating your muscle. This slows your metabolism, makes you weaker and stops your fat loss efforts.
Research by Tremblay and many others shows high intensity interval training is far more effective than low intensity cardio because it makes your body burn fat and calories all day long, not just during your workout.
Fat Loss Fix: Replace your long cardio sessions with shorter, high intensity intervals.
Fat Loss Myth #2: Use high repetition, low weight resistance training to burn fat.
You know this "training" regimen. Find the lightest dumbbells in your gym and endlessly curl them. Then do 30 minutes of "abs."
Training for fat loss is based on cranking up your metabolism. This is best done by recruiting as many muscle fibers as possible.
High rep resistance training uses only the smallest, weakest fibers, which has little impact on your metabolism. You have to target all your muscle fibers in your training or you'll never get the results you're looking for.
Fat Loss Fix: Do full body circuits with challenging loads. You should have at least a squat or lunge, an upper body pushing movement and an upper body pulling movement. Your rest periods should be short and you should strive to accelerate the load.
If you prefer body weight training, move as quickly as possible through your circuits.
Fat Loss Myth #3: Eat less and weigh less
Your body seeks nutrients, specifically protein, fat and carbohydrate. When you eat a diet comprised of a lot of calorie dense foods like bread, rice and pasta, your body doesn't get the nutrients it needs. Your body interprets this as being still "hungry" so you keep eating.
Since your body is getting empty calories, not nutrients, from your food choices, it responds by eating your muscle. This slows your metabolism and ruins your fat loss efforts.
If you simply eat less, you may weigh less, but you'll still be fat because you've lost your muscle.
Fat Loss Fix: Replace your empty calorie dense foods like bread, rice and pasta, with nutrient dense foods like vegetables, berries and protein.
Fat Loss Myth #4: You have to train every day to get results.
There is a persistent mindset that says if some is good, more is better. Here's the problem: training every day doesn't give your body the time it needs to recover. Recovery is when the magic happens and you get results.
When you don't allow time for recovery, you quickly become "overtrained" (or under-recovered) which results in fat storage hormones flooding in, counteracting all your training efforts.
That's why the people you see at your gym every day aren't getting results.
Overtraining also destroys your motivation (because you aren't getting results) and leaves you open to injury and illness.
Fat Loss Fix: Train no more than 4 days per week. Leave a day of recovery in between and get some sleep!