Struggling to lose weight? Five myths about fat loss

Fat loss expert and London-based personal trainer Nicholas Polo clues us in on what the biggest fat loss myths are. Photo / Getty.
Fat loss expert and London-based personal trainer Nicholas Polo clues us in on what the biggest fat loss myths are. Photo / Getty.

Are you struggling to shed those extra kilos but are unable to pinpoint why?

It could well be because you've been sucked in by myths and have been listening to the wrong advice.

Fat loss expert and London-based personal trainer Nicholas Polo reveals the biggest fat loss myths in a piece for Healthista - a website promoting a healthy lifestyle where he explains what advice is best ignored and the best ways to stay in shape.

He says when new gym members are asked to spell out their goals the two most common answers are "lose weight" and "body toning" but what so many of us are actually trying to say is "lose fat".

Fat loss and weight loss are not the same thing and although he presses the importance of keeping an eye on our weight Polo believes for a lot of people dropping a few pounds may actually be sensible.

He says if the real goal is to drop body fat percentage rather than weight it is important to follow a lifestyle that will better reflect results in a mirror rather than a scale.

Polo gives an example of two people who are both female, are the same age, stand at 5'5 and weigh 57 kilograms.

He says: "Now let's say one is retired Olympic Sprinter Jessica Ennis and the other is my friend Mary, an average gym goer who joined the gym to 'lose weight'.

"There is a good possibility that if you told Mary that in 12 months she would look like Jess, chances are she wouldn't care to ask how much Jess weighs.

"Why? Because based on looks alone, the more 'toned' we start to look, the less concerned we become about the number on the scale.

"That toned look means lower body fat percentage. Same weight, more muscle, less fat."

He says knowing the difference is important and that, for many, fat loss is actually the destination to happiness - but that isn't always so straightforward. Here's the facts about
those weight loss tips you may have been conned into believing.

1. Cardio is the best way to lose fat

For years people associated cardio with burning calories and weight training with muscle gain. Photo / Getty Images.
For years people associated cardio with burning calories and weight training with muscle gain. Photo / Getty Images.

Polo says cardio is one way to lose fat but compared to weight training it is not the most effective or efficient way to ditch the extra calories.

For years, people associated cardio with burning calories and weight training with muscle gain however these days it is recognized weight training builds muscle more efficently than cardio.

As well as this, weight training promotes a boost in metabolism that carries on after a workout is copleted.

If endless hours on the treadmill aren't working it doesn't mean you need to do increase the hours instead push and pull some weights or even use your own body weight and get that fat burning furnance lit.

2. Training sessions must be an hour long

Some 10 minute training sessions are just as good as hour-long versions. It's all about quality not quantity, says Polo. Photo / Getty.
Some 10 minute training sessions are just as good as hour-long versions. It's all about quality not quantity, says Polo. Photo / Getty.

Polo says here it is important to think about quality versus quantity.

The reality, he says, is that if your personal trainer wrapped up a session before the full hour was over you'd probably feel short-changed. But in his own experience he has had clients who achieved the same body fat percentage just by doing a 10 minute training session. How? Drop sets.

Drop setting is a means of weight training for fat loss and a technique where you can perform an exercise at the maximum possible resistance before dropping the weight immediately without a break.

By eliminating the rest time between sets and exercises you can save all the time you would otherwise use for chatting, mirror staring or liking posts on Instagram.

Polo says to apply drop sets on a leg day and you could finish your leg presses, curls and extensions in just 10 minutes - which is all you need for fat loss.

3. Lifting weights will bulk you up

Bulking up is a concern for a lot of female gym goers when they think about lifting weights. Photo / Getty.
Bulking up is a concern for a lot of female gym goers when they think about lifting weights. Photo / Getty.

Not too worry, you won't become Arnold! That takes a lot of testosterone, a specific type of weight training and a supplement of two better left unmentioned.

Bulking up is a concern for many female gym goers when they think about lifting weights.

Polo says putting aside the methods of weight training that would bulk someone up, it is better to focus on what would make you fit and toned instead.

He says: "Applying the idea of drop sets again on your exercises, perform three to four sets and limit the reps of each set to six to ensure body definition and strength increase rather than bulkiness.

"That means that the weight you start on your first set should be heavy enough so that you will not be able to do more than six reps without reducing the weight.

"Once you finish one exercise quickly proceed to the next one.

"When reps are limited to six you are more likely to increase your strength, see muscle definition, increase your heart rate and burn fat in a way that lasts all the way to your couch and then more."

4. Eating low fat is best

All good diets are based on whole foods. Photo / Getty.
All good diets are based on whole foods. Photo / Getty.

According to Polo, eating fat does not make you fat.

He says according to a recent study which looked at the top ten healthiest diets around the world that included the Greek, Italian, French, Icelandic and Korean it was concluded that all performed great regardless of their different splits between carbs, proteins and fats.

It was found the Icelandic diet is rich in protein from meat and fish but it includes very little fruit and vegetables.

The Korean diet has a lot of rice but it's believed its combination with pickled veggies on the side helps its absorption.

The French diet is heavy in fat (not to mention red wine) but this doesn't mean it translates to fat gain.

The Greek and Italian diets are not short in carbs but when it comes to dressings they are usually pure vinegar and olive oil.

So what's the common theme through all these diets that keep them healthy?

They are all based on whole foods and there's no food or sugar that come with it.

These diets did not include cereal, sodas, canned food, fast food fries, prepackaged dressing or added sugar.

5. Supplements don't work

Supplements are not to replace our food but they are there for extra support so that we feel stronger, healthier and more energetic. Photo / Getty.
Supplements are not to replace our food but they are there for extra support so that we feel stronger, healthier and more energetic. Photo / Getty.

It is definitely better to get your vitamins and minerals from whole foods, says Polo. A balanced diet is a good start, however it is not likely to cover all your body's nutritional needs, especially when training a little more intensively.

Age, stress, limited sleep, health and intense training can change our nutrient requirements.

Supplements are not intended to replace food but instead offer extra support so we feel stronger, healthier and more energetic.

Polo says: "Although not all supplements are of equal quality - sometimes it is better to spend an extra penny to get your money's worth, the benefits of taking some supplements are not to be dismissed and this goes from protein powder to fibre.

"Nutritionist Amy Leung said that everyone is biochemically unique so it is worth working with a qualified nutritional therapist to identify your own personal needs.

"When choosing a multi-vitamin, I would go for one that is made for women and it is geared towards females' needs to avoid missing out on vitamins and nutrients that matter to women more than men."

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