Should you cut back on fat and exercise for at least 30 minutes to lose weight - or is there a better way? We reveal five fat loss myths you need to know...
Myth #1 Long cardio sessions are best for fat loss
Think you have to do cardio for 30 minutes or more to burn fat? Think again. Research has now shown that high intensity interval training (HIIT) – where you spend a few minutes exercising at maximum effort followed by a shorter period of recovery – is just as effective. Short bouts of HITT (sprint for 20 seconds, rest for 10 and repeat eight times for example) performed two or three times a week can be enough to improve your fitness
While low intensity exercise (for example jogging for 30 minutes or more) is good for improving overall aerobic capacity, experts believe it can increase our stress hormone, cortisol, and slow down fat loss if performed too frequently.
Myth #2 Fat is making you fat
We were once told to cut back on fat found in things like oil, butter and cheese to lose weight. Science has now shown that eating too much carbohydrate (which turns to sugar if not burnt by the body for energy) is the real culprit.
Myth #3 Light weights and lots of reps are best
Doing lots of reps of light weights is like doing long sessions of cardio at low intensity – nowhere near as effective as high intensity training. Lifting heavier weights and doing fewer reps is the best way to get stronger. And the more lean muscle tissue you have, the more calories you burn, even when you're not exercising. For maximum results, opt for big movements, such as squats, lunges and overhead presses. Choose a heavy weight (but one that you can lift without sacrificing technique) and start by performing four sets of eight repetitions.
Myth #4 Extreme diets are the only way to lose weight
Lots of people turn to extreme diets, many of which involve living off meal replacement shakes, to lose weight – but how many of them keep it off? Crash dieting does more harm than good. The weight lost is mostly water and lean muscle tissue – bad news, as the more muscle tissue you have, the better the body is at burning fat.
Studies show that the vast majority of people regain the weight they lost and some extra besides. Instead of crash dieting and skipping meals, find a healthy way of eating you can stick to. As long as the total number of calories you consume are less than those you expend, you will lose weight. It takes time – but then you didn't put the weight on overnight either.
Myth #5 You can always take a fat-burning pill
There are all kinds of diet pills and fat burning potions on the market. At best these are a waste of money, at worst, you could be damaging your health. Instead of a quick fix, focus on adding lots more vegetables (especially leafy green ones) to your diet. Cut out processed meals and takeaways too and you should soon start to feel healthier and lose weight.
Have you successfully lost weight and kept it off the healthy way? Share your tips below...