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9 fat loss myths

9 Fettabbau Mythen

Some fat loss myths never seem to die. While they may not slow down your progress, these myths can still waste your time. Maximize your fat loss by avoiding these 9 myths. It seems like old myths never die. Although we live in an age of unrivaled information sharing, most of the old fat loss myths continue to be passed around.

Most of this unfounded advice is quite harmless, but can waste your time with unnecessary practices. The following fat loss myths still prevail. I regularly see them being spread around. I even recently received a spam email containing each of the following myths.

9 Fat Loss Myths

Myth #1 - Eating regularly will increase your metabolic rate

It seems like this notion will never die.
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that regular, or frequent, meals increase metabolic rate. A review of relevant studies concluded that total daily calorie expenditure was the same regardless of the meal frequency used (1).

The frequency of meals in this meta-study ranged from one to seventeen meals per day. The scientists came to the following conclusion: "Studies that used whole-body calorimetry and doubly labeled water to determine energy expenditure over 24 hours found no difference between many small meals and few large meals." Since 1997, all recent research studies have supported this conclusion.

Myth #2 - You need to eat protein at every meal

Adequate protein intake is essential for fat loss. It helps your body maintain valuable muscle mass and helps you improve your body composition while losing weight. While it's not bad to eat protein with every meal, it's not necessary. As long as you achieve an adequate daily protein intake, it generally doesn't matter when and how you eat your protein.

Don't panic if you miss a protein meal. You won't become catabolic and lose all your muscle gains. This obsessive belief has ruined the day for many.

Myth #3 - You shouldn't eat carbs after 2pm

This is another persistent myth. As long as you have your daily calorie intake under control and you don't consume excessive amounts of carbohydrates relative to your other macronutrients, it won't matter when you eat those carbs. There is nothing magical about consuming carbohydrates in the late afternoon or evening. The human body does not have a magic switch that suddenly turns all carbohydrates into fat after 2pm.

The assumption behind this myth is that the metabolic rate slows down during sleep. However, this is generally not the case, even though the human metabolic rate initially slows down by 35% after falling asleep (2), it later increases significantly when you reach REM sleep.

The end result is that your metabolic rate during sleep is not lower than when you are inactive during the day (3, 4). In addition, it should be noted that exercising during the day will also lead to an increase in your metabolic rate at night (5).

Myth #4 - You need to do endless hours of cardio training

Wrong, wrong and wrong. Even though 3 to 4 cardio workouts of 20 to 30 minutes per week are great for overall health, cardio itself is not an efficient fat loss tool - diet is more effective.

Let's say you walk 5 kilometers per hour. 1.5 kilometers burns about 100 kcal. So you'd have to walk over 50 kilometers a week to burn a pound of fat. And even if you walked that much, you wouldn't lose any fat if you don't have your eating habits under control.

Don't overdo the cardio. Use a structured diet plan and the weight will come off. Do some cardio every week for better health and fitness.

Myth #5 - You should cut your calories immediately

Just blindly cutting calories doesn't address bad eating habits, nor does it help shape a new lifestyle. Without addressing the eating (and drinking) habits that got you into this mess in the first place, there's a good chance you'll fail again and regain the weight you lost.

Before you rashly just cut your calories, you should seriously evaluate your diet. Try to remove 90% of the following:

  • Sugary drinks and fruit juices (fruit juice is like fruit without all the good nutrients found in the pulp and skin.
  • Processed foods (ready meals, most frozen foods, etc.) - Junk food snacks (cookies, crackers and candy)

Once you've removed all of this nutritional junk from your diet, you can choose healthier options instead. At this point, it's time to start controlling calories.

Myth #6 - Rapid weight loss is always a good thing

While it may be necessary for severely overweight people who are trying to improve their health as quickly as possible to lose 4 to 5 pounds per week, this is not the best way to lose weight if you want to look good when you're done. Let's leave out extremely obese people and talk about you. Most of us need to lose a maximum of about 20 to 40 pounds of fat. If this is the case, and you want to look as good as possible when the fat loss process is done, then you should aim for a fat loss of 1.5 to 2 pounds per week.

This rate of weight loss will allow you to maintain as much muscle mass as possible while losing fat. This is what you want. If you lose weight quickly, then you will lose muscle mass and fat and risk looking thin, but still soft and kind of flabby.

Myth #7 - Fasting cardio is best for fat loss

Not true. Without going into all this discussion about different types of cardio and the optimal time to do cardio, I want to use some common sense.

We've already seen that diet drives fat loss and that cardio only has a minimal impact (unless you have enough time to work out for hours every day). Once you understand this, I would strongly recommend that you simply do the following:

  1. The type of cardio you enjoy.
  2. The type of cardio that is appropriate for your age, health and fitness level.
  3. Cardio training at the time of day that makes the most sense for you.

While HIIT cardio may be the best form of cardio on paper, HIIT could also be risky for you. Walk, swim or go bowling. Just get moving. Once you've started to improve your fitness and conditioning, you can do more challenging forms of cardio when you need to. And it makes far more sense to do cardio at a time of day when you're neither pressed for time nor tired. You are more likely to enjoy your cardio training and stick with it without missing a training session. Returning to the topic of cardio training while fasting, here is a quote from Schoenfeld on the subject:

To summarize, the literature does not support the efficacy of early morning exercise on an empty stomach as a tactic to reduce body fat percentage. At best, the net fat loss effect associated with such an approach will be no better than exercising after a meal and may even produce better results (6).

Myth #8 - Choose low-fat foods to lose fat

Eating fat will not make you fat. This is one of the most quoted but also most ridiculous nutrition myths. This myth needs to die and I want to encourage you to help with this process. Excess calories make you fat. Candy, cookies, chips, crackers, high-calorie fast food, convenience foods, sugary drinks... most people consume too many of these foods while consuming too few real, whole, nutrient-dense foods. Low-fat products often contain sugar for flavor or are misleading from the start. How many times have you seen the term "low fat" on a packet of sweets or cookies? Of course these foods are low in fat - as they are almost entirely made up of sugar! A "low fat" label on a food is often meaningless. That food can still be very high in calories.

A high calorie diet will make you gain weight. Control your calories and you will control your weight. Fat will not cause you to gain weight if your eating habits are sensible and balanced.

Myth #9 - Avoid fruit during the fat loss process

This is another foolish fat loss myth. Yes, fruit contains some sugar, but no, fruit is anything but high in calorie density and it's hard to overeat on fruit. In addition, fruit is packed with vitamins and minerals. We're going to toot the same horn here: total calorie intake is the most important factor when it comes to weight gain. I have yet to meet a single person who got fat from eating too many strawberries, apples or oranges. A reasonable amount of natural sugars and carbohydrates found in fruit won't make much difference and certainly won't make your belly grow if you have your total calories under control. If you want to lose fat, it's best to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables each week. This will allow you to get a wider range of vitamins and minerals and is great for overall health.

Fat loss summary

Here is a summary:

  1. Eat meals that fit your daily routine and needs. There is no urgent reason to eat every 2 to 3 hours. This will not increase your metabolic rate, but could cause you to waste a lot of time trying to figure out what to eat at 6 to 10 meals a day.
  2. It's okay to eat a meal that includes little or no protein. This won't affect your fat loss or the maintenance of your muscles. Aim for a minimum amount of protein per day. It won't make much difference when you eat this protein.
  3. Eating carbohydrates after 2pm is fine as long as you keep your total calories under control. These carbohydrates are not directly converted into fat.
  4. Your eating plan is your primary fat loss mechanism. Use cardio to support overall health and improve your fitness, but not as your primary tool for fat loss. Cardio training combined with a poor diet will not result in fat loss.
  5. Before rushing to reduce your calories, you should analyze your poor eating habits. If you don't take steps to change these habits, you risk getting fat again when your diet is over.
  6. To maximize your muscle mass during fat loss, you should aim for a weight loss of 1.5 to 2 pounds per week. This will help you look your best when your diet is over.
  7. When and how you do cardio doesn't really matter. Choose a form of cardio that you enjoy and do it at a time of day when you are likely to have the most energy.
  8. Eating fat does not make you fat. Excess calorie intake makes you fat. Low-fat foods are not inherently low in calories. They are often overloaded with sugar. Be careful.
  9. Eat a wide variety of fruit each week. The small amounts of sugar and carbohydrates contained in fruit will not affect your fat loss as long as your total calorie intake is within a reasonable range.


  1. Bellisle F, McDevitt R, Prentice AM. Meal frequency and energy balance. Br J Nutr. 1997 Apr;77 Suppl 1:S57-70.
  2. Seale JL, Conway JM. Relationship between overnight energy expenditure and BMR measured in a room-sized calorimeter. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999 Feb;53(2):107-11.
  3. Zhang K, Sun M, Werner P, Kovera AJ, Albu J, Pi-Sunyer FX, Boozer CN. Sleeping metabolic rate in relation to body mass index and body composition. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2002 Mar;26(3):376-83.
  4. Mischler I, Vermorel M, Montaurier C, Mounier R, Pialoux V, Pequignot JM, Cottet-Emard JM, Coudert J, Fellmann N. Prolonged daytime exercise repeated over 4 days increases sleeping heart rate and metabolic rate. Can J Appl Physiol. 2003 Aug;28(4):616-29.
  5. Biston P, Van Cauter E, Ofek G, Linkowski P, Polonsky KS, Degaute JP. Diurnal variations in cardiovascular function and glucose regulation in normotensive humans. Hypertension. 1996 Nov;28(5):863-71.
  6. Brad Schoenfeld, MSc, CSCS, NSCA-CPT. Does Cardio After an Overnight Fast Maximize Fat Loss?


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