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Charleston Personal Trainer Exposes Fat Loss Myths

When you’re looking for information on how to lose body fat it’s hard not to come across conflicting information even from the so called “experts.” While I’ll be the first to admit there is more than one way to lose fat, there’s no doubt far too much misinformation out there that confuses people.

The objective of this post is not to engage in debate over which way is best, but rather break down some of the biggest myths and misconceptions about fat loss.

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions I get all the time. Is a low carbohydrate diet really the best way to go for fat loss? Is cardio really the best type of exercise to burn fat? Do I have to count calories in order to lose fat?

I’ll address each one of these questions and help you to get a better understanding of the core foundations behind fat loss.

Experience has shown me one of the biggest obstacles people have with trying to lose weight is clearing their mind of faulty belief systems. I see it everyday in my personal training business. New clients are often reluctant to break old habits (like constantly restricting calories), even when they’ll be first to admit their way isn’t working very well.

The first step in changing your body will likely come from changing your thoughts. The decisions we make on a daily basis with diet and exercise are influenced by our thoughts and beliefs. We do what we believe will work best, often repeating certain actions over and over even when they don’t produce the results we want.

Some of the suggestions I’ll make in this article may challenge your current belief systems. At the end of the day I don’t have the final say and neither does any other expert. You simply have to find what works for your body through trial and error experimentation.

Everyone is simply different and what may have worked for someone else, might not be that effective for you.

The bottom line is this though….

“Insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.”
- Albert Einstein.

True words of wisdom from someone I think we’d all agree to be a pretty smart guy!

As you read down through this list just look for ideas on how you could switch things up and continue to experiment on finding a solution that works for your body. Trying to hold onto a set belief on fat loss that isn’t working very well for you is an exercise in futility.

You’re just bashing your head against the wall and not getting anywhere!

Let’s look at some of the biggest myths on fat loss and I’ll give you my two cents for what it’s worth on each subject.

Myth #1: Skipping breakfast will help me lose fat by eating fewer calories.

If you’re trying to “eat less” in order to “weigh less” sooner or later you’re going to discover that caloric restriction has its limitations.

Sure you need to create a caloric deficit at some point in order to give your body a reason to tap into stored fat, but the problem is most people take restriction too far or do it for too long. Caloric restriction should come in short windows of time, hours and days, not weeks and months.

This is important to understand as the body is designed with built in protective mechanisms that kick in to adjust your metabolism during the prolonged restriction of energy.

Skipping breakfast is generally not a very good idea for fat loss, especially in the beginning. The majority of people who have skipped breakfast for a while have adapted to the decreased energy intake and down-regulated their metabolism.

Skipping breakfast leads to low blood sugar levels which can trigger fat storage when you consume larger meals later in the day. As a general rule, but not always, look to consume smaller more frequent meals throughout the day.

There are times when it can be beneficial to skip breakfast and other meals as you progress in a fat loss program, but in the beginning look to stabilize blood sugar levels and boost your metabolism by making sure to eat something first thing in the morning.

Just so you know, I’m NOT a big fan of eating a big breakfast. The human body is going through an elimination and detoxification process in the early morning hours. You want to assist in that process and not overburden your digestive system with a large meal.

A light breakfast of easy to assimilate fruits, eggs, whey protein, meal replacement shakes, green juices, etc, are optimal choices. Dairy products like Greek yogurt or cottage cheese are also excellent at breakfast.

While some whole grains like oatmeal can be beneficial, look to incorporate heavier starches according to your energy needs.

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Myth #2: Not being able to stay on my diet long enough to lose fat is a problem with my lack of willpower.

Wrong, you can’t fight the biology of your body! If you try you’ll lose every time. When you don’t eat enough for prolonged periods of time your body sends signals to your brain that you need energy.

For example when you’re hungry your body releases Ghrelin (a hormone produced by your stomach) that sends chemical impulses to your brain signaling it’s time to eat something.

The chemical impulses keep coming until you stop them by eating something. Willpower has nothing to do with it.

Severe calorie restriction diets will always backfire in the end. If you starve yourself long enough over time, you’ll send hormonal signals to your thyroid telling it to simply slow your metabolism down.

Most importantly, you must fuel your body with the energy it needs to support lean muscle development. Cutting calories just enough for short windows of time to get in your “fat loss zone” is the real secret.

How do you know what your “fat loss zone” is? Trial and error experimentation.

Myth #3: I can eat “sugar free” diet foods and still optimize fat loss.

In my opinion all processed and refined foods, regardless of calorie content, are part of the problem. A primary culprit of weight gain in the US is the use of high-fructose corn syrup. This sweetener is used mostly in processed foods.

We’ve gone from practically not consuming this substance at all in 1960 to now the average American eating 63 lbs of it a year! Foods with high fructose corn syrup turn OFF your body’s natural hunger hormones making it easy to consume excess calories.

Myth #4: Eating more fiber will only make me bloated and gain weight.

Many of us associate fiber with something you’d only increase in your diet if you were constipated. In reality fiber is a bona-fide “fat loss super food.” It slows down food moving through your digestive system, thus making you feel fuller longer.

I’ve written extensively on the benefits of fiber so I won’t go into more detail here. You’ll see recommended daily intake of 20-30 grams per day, but I recommend a slightly higher amount of 40-50 grams for maximum benefits.

Myth #5: I have to spend an hour or more in the gym with resistance workouts.

Who made up this crazy one-hour rule that everyone seems to go by? Bodybuilders that’s who. And I’m guessing their goals are a little different that yours. Thirty minutes of resistance exercise done three times a week when combined with daily aerobic exercise and supportive nutrition will produce amazing results.

That’s exactly what we do at my Shaping Concepts personal training studios. Your total workout time may be sixty minutes combining cardio with resistance training, but for fat loss benefits you don’t need to do more than thirty minutes with cardio or resistance training alone.

Myth #6: No-carb diets work the best for fat loss.


Everyone knows somebody who lost a lot of weight on the Atkins Diet. But then again we all know someone who stopped the diet then gained all the weight back with a few extra pounds to boot. While restricting starch carbohydrates is a very effective means for reversing insulin resistance and promoting fat loss, a “no-carb” approach is far from ideal for fat loss with health and wellness in mind.

You simply want the valuable fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals that vegetables and fruits provide. The best diet routines for fat loss are naturally “low-carb” instead of “no-carb.” This is best accomplished where your carbohydrates come mostly from fruits and vegetables.

By removing breads, starches, and all processed, refined food (and sugar drinks) you’ll go a long way towards reducing insulin resistance and programming your hormone levels for fat loss. Individuals with higher energy demands or a faster metabolism will benefit from eating more starch carbohydrate. Once again you have to find what works best for your body.

Myth #7: A regimen of cardiovascular exercise alone will burn the most fat


This cardio myth ranks right up there at the top of misconceptions people have with fat loss. I see people all the time in health clubs running on treadmills for 5 days a week at 60 minutes a crack without ever looking any different. How is it that they don’t lose a bunch of fat from all that running? The answer lies in simple exercise physiology. Let me explain…

In order to burn fat a few factors have to be right with your body. Number one you must have a caloric deficit of some degree, either through diet restriction, exercise, or a combination of both.

Unfortunately most of these cardio “die-hards” have cut calories too far for too long in addition to doing excessive exercise with long-duration cardio workouts. Their burning up a ton of calories but they don’t have enough energy coming in to meet demand. Over time the metabolism down-regulates, cortisol levels rise, and the body starts breaking down lean muscle.

Number two you must have metabolically active lean muscle. This is where resistance training comes into play. You need resistance training to build and maintain lean muscle. Many people skip this type of training because they don’t want to get big-bulky muscles. This is a mistake.

You must work your muscles with resistance training if you want to become efficient at using fat for fuel over the long-haul.

It’s a good idea to follow a natural progression with your cardio workouts if you want to be efficient at burning fat over time. Your body uses fat for fuel when you’re in what’s called an “aerobic state,” which simply means your meeting momentary oxygen demand.

It is very important that you develop what’s called an “aerobic base” by completing low intensity cardio workouts at approximately 50-75% of your maximum heart rate.

Most people jump right over this stage because they think the harder the workout and the longer they go, the more effective it will be. It simply doesn’t work that way.

High intensity cardio workouts (intervals) are an effective strategy for fat loss but ONLY if you’ve first developed an aerobic base. Walking is very effective at helping people lose weight because it works your body in the aerobic energy system, thus allowing your body to use fat for fuel.

The skinny on this matter (no pun intended) is you should start off with low intensity aerobic exercise before progressing to higher intensity interval training. There is no one “magic bullet” with cardio either. Both types of cardio training are beneficial and maximum results are seen when you combine both routines into your exercise regiment.

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston fitness trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts. With a staff of over 10 certified fitness professionals, Shaping Concepts provides Charleston personal fitness programs with a specialty on weight loss and body transformation. You can receive a FREE, no-obligations trial and consultation to experience the difference for yourself.

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