When it comes to weight loss, there are a lot of misconceptions in the fat department. Our body is an amazing machine and can't be fooled for very long, no matter what gimmicky diet or sensationalized supplement we try to shed a few pounds. To set the records straight, here are 5 body fat myths busted.
1) The fat you eat makes you fat
Our body absolutely needs fat. Without it, we can’t absorb a great many nutrients, like fat-soluble vitamins A, D, K and E. Eat too much fat, especially the wrong kind of fat, and you’ll start feeling the pinch. When you eat a reasonable amount of healthy fat, such as an egg or two for breakfast, salmon for lunch or an olive oil-drizzled salad for dinner, it’s highly likely that fat will get swallowed up by muscle fibers and used as energy. If you eat a brick of Velveeta or a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby while you’re bored watching TV, and you’ll probably gain weight.
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2) Muscle turns to fat
Just not true. A group of muscle fibers can grow or shrink depending on the stress placed upon it. For instance, smaller biceps can become bigger biceps then become smaller bicep again. But when muscles atrophy (shrink), fat doesn’t take its place. Along the same lines, you can’t turn fat into muscle. Fat and muscle are two very different things and serve very different purposes in your body. Diet, exercise and rest are the three biggest drivers in your body’s muscle/fat balance.
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3) You can spot reduce fat
Your body is in the driver’s seat when it comes to determining where fat will get off the bus first. If you have patience, eat right and get enough activity, excess body fat will start to diminish. You have complete control over the parts of your body you’d like to tone. For instance, if you want to shape up your tush and thighs, do strength-based exercises that challenge those muscles.
One of the biggest trouble areas on many people is the belly area. You can do ab exercises all day long, but if you don’t eat right, you will never see a six-pack. It could very well be there, but until foods laden with refined carbs and caffeine are cut back, you’ll be waiting a while to see them.
4) Nothing can be done about age-related weight gain
You might not be 18 anymore, but you can definitely take control of your body at any age. There are a lot of reasons people gain weight as they age, but the two biggest factors are lifestyle and hormones. Everyone knows that if our lifestyle changes and we become more sedentary, for instance, we might gain weight, but a lot of people don’t realize just how big of an impact hormones have on weight gain. Hormones are constantly in flux in both men and women. Watching sugar intake, exercising and managing stress are three great ways to keep hormones in check. Another thing everyone over the age of 30 can do to help keep metabolism up and weight gain down is SLEEP. When we sleep, our body releases lots of human growth hormone (HGH), with the biggest dose getting released within the first 90 minutes of sleep. HGH helps our body repair, developing muscle fibers and balancing stress hormones. In a nutshell, getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep is one of the most undervalued things we can do to help stay in good shape.
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5) When you drastically cut calories, you burn fat faster.
If you crash diet, or cut calories down to celery sticks and water day in and day out, not only will your health be in jeopardy, but your body’s fat metabolism will also be on the chopping block. Unless you’re doing a very controlled fast, which can be beneficial, cutting calories willy nilly because you need to lose a few pounds for the weekend might give you immediate results on the scale, but as soon as you start eating regularly again, don’t be surprised if your body gains all the weight you lost back quickly…and then some. If you overeat, there is nothing wrong with cutting calories, but going from 3000 calories a day to 300 calories a day puts your body into starvation mode. Cut calories to a reasonable amount, and eat a healthy balance of protein, carbs and fat. The weight will come off, along with the fat, before you know it.
Traci is a nationally-recognized health and fitness coach, and the current coach working with Steve Harvey's Bridal Bootcamp. Traci has also been featured on Dr. Oz, The TODAY Show, in SHAPE, SELF and local news programs. Her specialty is weight loss through clean eating and interval-style training. Traci is available for private coaching and corporate consulting. To contact Traci, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.