Updated: Apr 23
Everyone’s heard the saying; “You are what you eat!”. But how many times have you searched on Google for “fat loss foods” or “the best foods to lose body fat” or “nutrition tips for fat loss” etc., trawled through numerous articles and ended up more confused than before you started? Probably many many times, right!?
A lot of the time the information overload can leave you feeling overwhelmed and uninspired.
In this article I’m going to squash some popular nutritional myths, so you can feel more empowered when it comes to nutrition in relation to losing body fat.
If you’re confused about nutrition and fat loss then keep reading (or watch the video below)! This article will cover 5 common “Fat Loss Myths” and empower you with the knowledge to make the right decisions moving forward.
Fat Loss vs Weight Loss
Before we dive into the 5 myths, let me quickly explain the difference between fat loss and weight loss.
Ultimately, losing body fat will make you look and feel better. You can lose weight but still have excess body fat. You can also stay the same weight, lose body fat, and look visually very different.
For example, if you were 70kg and lost 10kg of body fat but put on 10kg of muscle, you’d still weigh 70kg, but would look and feel completely different. However, the two tend to go hand in hand. Most people who are on a weight loss journey, lose body fat and vice versa.
Now that’s cleared up, let’s get stuck into these 5 common fat loss myths.
Myth 1 - Certain Foods Are: “Fat Loss Foods”
Without doubt, one of the most common questions I get asked is; “What are the best foods for fat loss?”
Well the answer is: There are no “best” foods for fat loss!
This is a huge myth!
Sorry to disappoint you, but there’s not one specific food, or group of foods, that help you to lose body fat.
Body fat reduction has so many variables and when I hear people saying comments like: “Oh, you should eat blueberries, they’re a fat loss food” I want to smash my head against the wall!
It takes balance, awareness, knowledge of particular foods, portion control, how to cook foods etc. etc. to lose body fat. You can’t just eat broccoli and expect to lose body fat, it’s not how it works!
Myth 2 - A Calorie Deficit is the Only Way to Lose Body Fat
This simply isn’t true! Remember we are talking about fat loss here, so please re-read the Fat Loss v Weight Loss Section above if you’re unsure of the differences.
Before I continue let me express that I have nothing against calorie deficit diets, being in a calorie deficit and tracking calorie intake. However, as mentioned above, fat loss has so many variables.
Let me share an example with you from a client of mine, to highlight the fact that fat loss is not just about being in a calorie deficit.
Let’s just call her Lisa.
When Lisa reached out for my help she couldn’t understand why she wasn’t losing body fat.
On the surface everything looked great. She was exercising 4 times per week, using a mix of weight training and cardio, she was in a calorie deficit and her food diary looked great, but she told me she’d been the same body fat % for ages and her weight wasn’t budging. She also wanted to drop a couple of dress sizes, she was stuck at a size 14.
After an initial coaching call and digging into her lifestyle a bit more, I discovered that she was only sleeping 4 hours a night!
On top of that, Lisa told me that she was going for a promotion at work and she was highly stressed about it.
To put it simply; she was tired and stressed (the worst combination for successful fat loss).
TRYING TO LOSE BODY FAT + STRESS + FATIGUE = NO RESULTS
As soon as we sorted out her sleep and we improved her mindset around work, the body fat started melting away. We literally kept everything else the same.
Losing body fat isn’t as simple as just being in a calorie deficit. If it were, then there wouldn’t be countless stories just like Lisa’s.
You can’t just rely on a calorie deficit if you want to lose body fat. You need to work on high quality sleep, hydration and reducing stress. All of these will improve your energy, metabolism and overall health which will aid your fat loss success.
Myth 3 - Carbs Make You Fat!
You’ve probably heard this one a lot. Ever since the rise of the Atkins Diet in the 90’s (I’m showing my age now), carbs have received a bad rep.
This has been intensified by the Paleo diet of the mid 00’s and the Keto diet, which has had a meteoric rise in the mid 10’s leading into this decade.
To compound the poor old carbs misery, the media, plus many doctors, nutritionists and personal trainers, have absolutely destroyed the reputation of white carbs and any form of sugar in particular.
Well I’m here to tell you that carbs and sugar don’t make you fat!
In a similar way to what I mentioned above about there not being any “fat loss foods”, there aren’t foods that will make you fat!
Don’t get me wrong, if all you eat is pizza, chocolate, and a big mac and fries, then it’s probably not going to work out too well for you. Nevertheless, to say that carbs make you fat is a crazy statement!
You can actually survive and operate well without carbs, but for most people this simply isn’t the case. A healthy level of carbs helps the vast majority of people, especially those looking to lose body fat.
I’ve coached many clients who have eaten a “high carb” diet and still lost loads of body fat. What’s more important when it comes to carbs is type and timing, but I’ll save that for another blog.
Myth 4 - Low Fat Products Will Help You Lose Fat
Before I go into this one, let me explain the role Fat plays in your diet and how it’s essential for optimal health.
Fat is a macronutrient (nutrients that we need in our diet in large quantities) and it’s essential for health and survival. Fat is used by the body in 3 main ways:
Protection of vital organs
Many people think that dietary fat and the fat on your love handles, or bingo wings, are one and the same.
Dietary fats; essential. The excess fat that inhabits your body; not essential.
The most important thing about the fat that you eat is the type and the ratio of those types. For example, you need a good balance of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and saturated fats - and you should steer clear of any trans fats and hydrogenated fats.
I often hear people say; “but if I eat fat, won’t that make me fat?” (you won’t by the way) then they proceed to ask me about low fat products
“Are low fat products better for fat loss?”
Err… It’s a no from me!
When it comes to nutrition and fat loss, we are all individual and require different approaches. A low fat diet might help Jenny lose body fat, but it might help Gemma put on body fat!
I don’t have any issues with low fat diets. In fact, I follow a low fat diet myself.
What I do have a problem with is off the shelf low fat products. You’ve seen them, low fat, fat free and 0% fat plastered all over the labels.
Yogurts are the worst for this. 9/10 low fat products are high in sugar. Sugar is not the enemy, far from it. However, in these low fat products, the amount of sugar massively exceeds what the average person needs in a single product.
My advice is avoid these low and no fat products like the plague.
In fact, stay away from most foods that are in packets. Go with more natural, low fat foods instead. Some great examples are: lean meats, white fish, fruit and vegetables.
Myth 5 - Eating Late At Night Will Make You Fat
There’s a widely accepted fat loss myth that late night eating encourages weight gain and increases fat storage.
There is absolutely no science to show this, yet I regularly hear; “late night eating will make you fat!”.
What’s more important than refraining from eating late at night, is the quality and quantity of your food intake throughout the day. If you’re eating a healthy, balanced diet, then eating after 8pm, for example, isn’t going to cause you to put on pounds of fat over night.
However, leaving a 2 hour window before you go to sleep, where you don’t eat, can help to improve your sleep quality, which in turn can help you to reduce body fat.
In my career as a health coach, I've coached and trained many doctors and nurses who perform shift work.
These particular clients would eat at all sorts of random times and still manage to lose body fat and get in great shape.
It can actually be very beneficial to your fat loss, to mix up the timing of your meals. This is because varying the times when you eat encourages metabolic flexibility (having a flexible metabolism).
By varying your meal times you're actually training your body to become better at metabolising food, which in turn will aid your fat loss.
Eating late at night won’t make you fat, but it could be detrimental to your sleep, so always bear that in mind when reaching for food later in the day.
So to recap, remember:
There are no “Fat Loss Foods”.
Being in a calorie deficit isn’t the only way to lose body fat.
Carbs, certainly don’t make you fat!
Low fat products won’t help you to lose fat.
Eating late at night won’t make you fat.
I trust that this blog will have educated, inspired and empowered you to make better decisions when it comes to your nutritional choices in the future. Always remember you have a choice, and now you are armed with the ability to make those choices better.
To your health and success,