In this article, we will discuss five familiar fat loss myths that are hindering your progress. You've probably heard about all of them before, but it is worth reminding ourselves, as they are far too common. Let's go!
Myth #1: Spot Reduction Is Real
This one is one of the oldest myths in the books, and beginners tend to fall for it even today. Spot fat reduction isn't real, it doesn't go that way. In other words, no matter how many crunches you do, or how many layers of folia, or fat loss belts you have on you, your abs still won't show if you have fat over them.
That doesn't mean working your abs isn't important, on the contrary. You will strengthen them and make them bigger, which will create more prominent "separations." But, you still have to work on your fat reduction, which happens body-wide, and you can't target it.
The first place you are likely to notice fat loss in your face. Unfortunately, those places you want the fat to disappear the most are the most problematic and stubborn. For men, that is the stomach area, and for women, it is the things and hips. But, if you keep the discipline up, you will start noticing improvements there too.
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So no, spot fat loss reduction isn't possible, not even for "enhanced" lifters. That is something you need to forget about, forever. And whoever tells you otherwise probably tries to sell you a spot fat reduction belt.
Myth #2: You Can Lose Fat And Gain Muscle Simultaneously
This myth is semi-true, with a big "but" following it. First, if you are a complete beginner, yes, you can lose fat and build muscle simultaneously. But, if you are not, things are different.
If you are more or less satisfied with your appearance, or you just want steady progress, building muscles over time without any significant spikes, you should up slightly up your caloric intake. In fact, you should do that by upping your protein.
Adding more calories from protein to your diet while following a good workout plan will give your body enough building blocks to build muscle. If you keep the surplus to a minimum, let's say below 500 calories over your maintenance, and you only up the protein, you should expect to get lean muscles.
Of course, you will still probably get some fat, but far less than in a hardcore "bulking" phases. We have a whole article dedicated to this topic, and we suggest you read it.
Myth #4: Steroid Users Don't Need To Worry About Fat Loss
While it is true that some performance-enhancing drugs such as clenbuterol and Winstrol directly target fat stores, the fact that you need to take those, and still watch your calories and training tells everything. There's just no magic pill or syringe that will just burn your gut away, turning you into a 5% lean machine.
And while Winstrol and clenbuterol do work (which doesn't mean they are for everyone!), you can forget about over the counter fat loss supplements. Most of those just contain caffeine, L-carnitine and a bunch of herbs that claim miracles. In reality, those supplements won't do much good longterm and are a complete waste of money.
Myth #5: Cardio Is Essential For Fat Loss
A caloric deficit is essential for weight loss; everything else is secondary. Now, whether you are going to obtain that deficit by reducing your caloric intake, increasing your activity levels, or both, it's up to you.
The truth is, however, that it is much easier not to eat a Big Mac than it is to run on a treadmill 45 minutes. So, if you are severely overweight with pounds and pounds to shred, your first stop should be drilling a hole at the bottom of your spoon.
But, if you already follow a diet that is mostly good and healthy, and you find it hard to cut the calories down even further, it is a good idea to raise your activity level. Besides, cardio has many health benefits, even more than lifting, as a recent JAMA study showed.
The best combination is to lower your total calories slightly and to introduce more activities you enjoy. While most people think about treadmills, stationary bikes and stair masters when someone notices cardio, playing sports with buddies also counts. So does hiking, swimming, rowing, any type of activity that gets your heart rate up will do.
Myth #6: Weight Loss Diets And Extreme Workouts Plans Work
This is another myth common among beginners, and especially ladies. Extreme diets that force you to severely undereat or take drastic measures by completely eliminating certain food groups won't work longterm.
Sure, you will see some results at first, which will feel great. But, once your body adapts, the weight loss will normalize, and you will lose it much slower.
Any kind of restrictive diet that cuts too many calories at once will result in something you want to avoid—muscle loss. Yes, performance-enhancing drugs, lifting, and intaking enough protein can slow that down, but it will still happen. Not to mention that extreme dieting can have adverse health effects, messing up with your digestion.
The same goes for following extreme exercise routines. Bad fat loss programs focus on high reps with short breaks in between, often using supersets and giant sets. While there's nothing inherently wrong with those techniques, doing too much work in a caloric deficit can result in overtraining, overuse and injuries. So don't rush, take things slow, that's the only way to lose fat the right way.
Myth #7: Carbs And Fats Make You fat
Eating calories you don't need makes you fat, and that's it, the source doesn't matter. So no, fats and carbs won't make you fat, eating too much of them will. The only macronutrient you should eat a lot is protein, but even that should stay within healthy amounts. As for the carbs and fats, it's up to you to figure out how to organize them.
Both carbs and fats have their own place in a healthy diet. Olive oil is an excellent example of good fats, while whole grain bread, rich in fiber, is a great example of good carbs. No need to demonize anything.
So, you should only focus on counting calories, maintaining a slight deficit. Just be aware that fats contain twice as many calories as proteins and carbs. But, they fill you up quickly, and keep you full for longer, so no need to completely cut them out.
Myth #8: You Need Juice To Get Shredded
This is not a myth, but a common natty excuse. No, you don't need steroids if you want to get shredded. In fact, it is much easier for a normal, non-genetically gifted person to achieve a lower percentage of body fat, than it is to get enormously big. The only look that is reserved for steroid users is the classic bodybuilder look, where you are huge and defined at the same time. Everything else is obtainable for ordinary people.
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And don't think to inject some Twill turn you into a super shredded animal overnight. Even steroid users have to do things right if they want to avoid fat loss and other side-effects. If you plan to go that route, we recommend you to read this article that is all about losing fat on steroids the right way.
Eight myths listed above are far too common if you ask us. We hope this article will end some of them, once and for all. At least those most basic ones such as spot fat reduction, and "only juiced gym rats can get shredded" should go into oblivion, immediately!
But, you live, and you learn, and even experienced lifters fall to cheap advertisement every now and then. That's why you read articles like this one, that share some common sense. The only truth is that losing fat takes discipline, and that's it. Yes, it is slow, but you will realize it was all worth it the second you see that six-pack for the first time. And you will find it in the same place where your beer gut used to be.
Let us know in the comments below if we forgot to mention some common fat loss myths you often hear around gyms.