Today we’re discussing the 7 myths of weight loss because almost everyone has a thing or two to say about the best way to lose weight.
Social media has partly helped create a mess in the fitness industry. Everyone has access to information about weight loss, correct or otherwise.
People are pretty much free to spread myths about weight loss and healthy eating on their social platforms.
While we can partly blame social media for its role in spreading misconceptions about weight loss, we can also use it positively to share science-backed facts about weight loss, which is what this post will try to achieve today.
Even though the weight loss journey is unique, and what might work for you may not necessarily work for the next person, there are truths about weight loss that often get twisted.
In my years of experience, I have found that weight loss facts from experts get disregarded for two main reasons.
One is that people want to cut corners and lose unrealistic weight within a short period (like 20 pounds in 2 weeks).
Second, people have heard too many misconceptions about losing weight that they take it as gospel truth without realizing just how wrong or damaging the information is.
If you were to spend 30 minutes on social media going through health and fitness content, chances are that you will land on at least one post about some detox smoothie or tea that claims to work.
And the only evidence to prove that the detox drink works will be that someone said that they heard Jane say that Tom heard that Mary said that it helped her lose 10 pounds in 3 days.
The misinformation about weight loss is wild and, if you are new to the scene and want to start living a healthy lifestyle, it will almost feel like weight loss is a complicated business.
Weight loss myths and facts
One of the most significant weight loss and nutrition myths holding back people from reaching their weight loss goals is the misconception that severely restricting calories will help you lose weight faster.
The truth is that restricting calories will help you shed pounds in the short term but will also cause a host of problems for you in the long run.
Let’s dive deeper into this and look at the 7 myths about weight loss.
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7 Myths of Weight Loss and Facts
Myth 1: Doing ab exercises alone will magically melt away belly fat
Two questions that have been asked by almost every person that wants to lose weight are: how can I lose my belly fat fast, and which exercise burns the most belly fat?
The answers on social media especially are wild and lead people to believe that doing ab exercises every day while eating junk food will help get rid of the stubborn belly fat. This is wrong and here is why!
The spot reduction myth
Spot reduction refers to the belief that targeting a specific area of the body with exercises will result in fat loss in that particular area.
In the case of belly fat, many people believe that endless sets of crunches or sit-ups will magically melt away the excess fat around their midsection.
Unfortunately, spot reduction is nothing more than a fitness myth that has been debunked by scientific research.
The University of Connecticut led a supervised resistance training study in 2007 in which 59 women and 45 women participated. The non-dominant arm was exercised in the study, while the dominant one was not .
Findings after 12 weeks revealed that fat loss was generalized to the entire body and did not occur only in the non-dominant arm that was exercised.
Targeting a specific area during exercise will not reduce the amount of fat in that place because your body is by no means wired to listen to you give instructions that this week or month it must lose fat on the tummy, then next week lose arm fat, and so on.
The body decides where to burn fat first, and you will have to lose overall body fat before you can start seeing specific changes.
The only thing targeted exercises such as 30 ab challenges do is strengthen the muscle group beneath the fat layer. When you have less overall body fat, your abs will pop without even doing extra ab workouts.
There are lots of things that work together to deliver a flat tummy. To get washboard abs, keep your stress levels low, and drink plenty of water. In addition, you have to eat foods that burn belly fat and do full-body workouts.
Diet myths debunked
The drastic changes and temporary nature of these diets make it difficult to maintain them over time. Instead of falling for any of these 7 myths of weight loss, shift your focus towards balanced nutrition.
Myth 2: Severely restricting calories will help you lose weight faster
Healthy weight loss is simple but not easy because it requires discipline and consistency. Many people embarking on a weight loss journey lack the discipline to break their bad eating habits and the ability to be patient and trust the process.
As a result, they look for faster ways to lose weight which usually involves extreme diets that drastically cut calories or food groups.
Weight loss requires a calorie deficit, which is, eating fewer calories than your body needs to maintain your current weight.
However, crash diets require you to follow extreme and restrictive eating plans. Of course, you will lose impressive amounts of weight while cutting lots of calories, but the results will be short-lived.
Restrictive diets fail because they are overly unsustainable. Drastically cutting calories will wreak havoc on your metabolism, make it even harder to lose weight next time, and you may develop eating disorders.
Once you go back to eating normally, the chances that you will regain all the weight, plus some more, are very high.
Instead of jumping on going on calorie-restrictive diets, opt for a healthy balanced diet and make lifestyle changes that will easily fit into your everyday life.
Consistently eat healthy and track calories. Calculate how many calories your body needs to lose weight and eat lots of vegetables and fruits (also include lean proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats).
Weight loss myth 3: You need to detox to lose weight
In recent years, hearing the words detox diet and weight loss in the same sentence is no longer strange. Very few people now question the science behind detox cleanses and how they help to burn fat.
Detox diets promise rapid weight loss and elimination of toxins from the body, but little evidence shows support for detoxing.
There is an extensive selection of detox products such as teas, pills, smoothies, and diet plans like the popular Master Cleanse diet, which claims to help people lose 20 pounds in 2 weeks.
These diets often involve severe calorie restriction, consuming only liquids or specific foods for a set period, and using various detox supplements or cleanse.
While these products claim to lead to significant weight loss, scientific evidence has shown that detox diets only work to improve liver health to some extent .
Firstly, the body has organs that eliminate toxins – remember you have kidneys, liver, skin, immune system, etc., designed for that job.
If your body had the number of toxins that would warrant a detox, you probably would be rushing to the emergency room and not making smoothies in your kitchen.
Secondly, all that weight that the scale tells you that you have lost is, in fact, just water weight and not fat.
Detox diets often lead to a rapid drop in weight, but it is crucial to differentiate between water weight loss and fat loss.
Most detox programs primarily cause water weight loss due to restricted calorie intake and increased bowel movement, and diarrhea .
The lost water weight quickly returns when you return to your regular eating habits.
According to nutritionist and wellness expert Desi Horsman, juice fasts and other crash diets do not provide enough nutrients, even though they appear to have health benefits.
‘’Detox cleanses often release toxins from tissues such as fat cells and deposit them into other parts of the body, including the brain, ultimately causing more damage. This means that the 10 or 20 pounds you end up losing at the end of the program is, in fact, muscle and not fat as intended,’’ Horsman says.
Myth 4: Carbs are bad for weight loss
Do you know what most people do when they are trying to lose weight? They ditch carbs because they believe that carbs are bad for weight loss.
If you ask why people feel carbs are the enemy 90% of the time, their answers make no sense. People who go on diets that cut out food groups like carbs believe that carbs turn into sugar, and sugar makes you fat.
There is more to carbs, and they are a big part of your weight loss journey.
The truth about carbs
Carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet. They are a source of energy and the proper functioning of the brain and muscles.
Carbs are one of the three macronutrients, alongside proteins and fats, and come in various forms, including sugars, starches, and dietary fiber.
It’s important to note that not all carbs are created equal, and the type and quality of carbs you consume matter when it comes to weight loss and overall health.
Sugars are simple carbs that cause a spike in blood sugar levels. These types of carbs are bad for you and must be avoided.
The effect of sugar on the body is that it will give you a rush of energy shortly after eating and a crash afterward.
You will feel sluggish and hungry after the sugar rush, and probably crave more sugar. If your diet consists mainly of simple carbs, you will be caught up in a cycle and gain weight.
You must avoid processed foods including most breakfast cereals, white bread, canned fruits, baked goods, fruit juices, soda, and candy.
Starches are a good source of carbs because, unlike sugar, they are complex and digested much slower. Starchy carbs do not cause massive spikes in blood sugar levels. Some of the sources of starch include rice, pasta, potatoes, beans, peas, and lentils.
Fiber is a complex carbohydrate that is not broken down into sugar by the body. A fiber-rich diet will help you stay full longer because your body cannot digest fiber.
While plant-based foods are the best sources of fiber, whole-wheat breakfast cereals and bread are also good. You can get fiber from beans, chickpeas, steel-cut oats, brown rice, quinoa, and whole-wheat pasta.
Cutting out carbs means potentially missing out on these vital nutrients that support overall health and well-being.
Instead of demonizing all carbs, focus on choosing whole, unprocessed sources that provide a wide range of nutrients while supporting your weight loss efforts.
So how much carbs should you include in your diet?
When you include the right amount and type of carbs in your diet, you can optimize your energy levels, support physical activity, and enhance overall performance.
A lack of carbs can lead to fatigue, decreased exercise intensity, and difficulty sustaining long-term weight loss efforts.
A healthy diet should include at least 45% carbohydrates, which equates to about 200g of carbs per day, and at least 30g should be fiber .
A study conducted over 25 years found that people who typically ate low-carb meals had a higher mortality rate than those who consumed moderate amounts of carbohydrates .
Fitness myth 5: Lifting weights makes women bulky
This one has to be the worst weight myth.
This fitness misconception is quite personal because, as a woman who loves to pick up a few dumbbells, I get tired of so many people telling me that I will start looking like a man if I continue lifting weights. Argh!
It drives me crazy whenever I hear this because I cannot say loud enough that women do not have testosterone to build that kind of muscle.
Well, now that I have this platform to clearly explain that lifting weights does not make women look like Schwarzenegger in his prime, allow me to get started!
Facts about weight loss and weight lifting
Lifting weights does not bulk up women. Building muscle requires testosterone, a hormone that women naturally have much lower than men.
Testosterone plays a huge role in muscle hypertrophy (aka muscle growth). Since ladies have significantly less of it, the chances of developing massive, bodybuilder-like muscles are about as likely as finding a unicorn at the gym.
If you have come across women who lift weights and look very muscular, it is because they have specifically trained over the years for that kind of physique.
Building noticeable muscle takes significant effort, time (years), and specific nutrition.
Women don’t want to lift weights but want to be ‘toned’
Most women who are misinformed about lifting weights will usually say that they do not lift heavy weights because they would end up looking like a man.
They go on to say that they just want to look toned, so they start doing endless reps with 2 lbs of those cute pink and purple weights.
What they do not understand, however, is that a toned look is achieved by building lean muscle and decreasing body fat through strength training.
Challenging your muscles with resistance training stimulates muscle growth and boosts metabolism, leading to a more sculpted physique.
Several studies have proven that strength training decreases body and belly fat in women .
As you build lean muscle, you create beautiful lines, contours, and curves that complement your femininity. Plus, having a perfectly sculpted body gives you the confidence to rock that little black dress or strut your stuff on the beach.
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Myth 6: Weight loss pills are a magic solution
If you have a TV or social media account, chances are that at least once a day you come across an enticing advertisement that claims to melt away fat, boost metabolism, and transform your body overnight.
If you are new to the health and fitness world it is easy to get drawn into the idea that a simple pill can be the answer to successful weight loss.
Fact about weight loss pills
Fat burners and appetite suppressants rely on anecdotal evidence, exaggerated claims, and marketing tactics to lure customers. In most cases scientific evidence that these pills work often falls short.
Weight loss pills often work by suppressing appetite, increasing metabolism, or interfering with the absorption of nutrients. While these effects may result in initial weight loss, they are typically short-term.
Once you stop using the pills, your body’s natural processes and hunger cues return to normal, making it easier to regain the lost weight.
Instead of searching for that magic pill to help you lose weight fast, focus on healthy eating and regular exercise.
Myth 7: Healthy eating is expensive
This myth is close to my heart because, for years, I believed the weight loss and nutrition myth that healthy eating is expensive.
Healthy weight loss is not about you eating organic this and that, or gluten-free this, and gluten-free that.
How to eat clean on a budget
One of the best ways to eat clean on a budget is by incorporating seasonal fruits and vegetables into your meals. Seasonal produce tends to be more abundant, making it a more affordable choice.
Instead of buying more expensive protein sources like steak or salmon, opt for cheaper options like tuna, chickpeas, chicken breasts, quinoa, eggs, and beans.
Meal planning and preparation can save you money while helping you eat healthy. By planning your meals, you can make a shopping list based on your needs and avoid unnecessary impulse buying.
Dedicate some time each week to meal prepping, where you cook larger quantities and portion them out for multiple meals.
This way, you will have nutritious, homemade meals ready to go and ultimately avoid the temptation of expensive takeout or convenience foods.
Final Thoughts on 7 Myths of Weight Loss
Weight loss is easy if you follow the simple steps. People only complicate it because they want shortcuts and follow the wrong advice.
Next time your co-worker wants you to join the New Year detox challenge, explain what the kidneys and liver does for them.
Next time someone at the gym tells you not to lift heavy and that you only need a bit of toning, tell them muscles do not tone. Muscles are either strong or weak and do not go from saggy to firm and vice versa.
Gently explain to them that performing a million reps with light weights day in and day out will not get them that toned look that they are looking for, but lifting heavy weights and eating protein-rich meals is where it is at.
Next time you try to talk yourself into spending endless hours on the treadmill or looking for the secret to a flat tummy, you will remember that that is a complete waste of time because you cannot spot-reduce fat.
Next time, you will also remember that you can do all the crunches in the world, but the fat in that area will not budge until you start training all your muscle groups in full and eat fewer calories than you burn.
When you come across one of these 7 myths of weight loss, remember that sustainable weight loss focuses on fat loss, which requires a long-term commitment to healthy eating and regular exercise.
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 Seidelmann, S. B., Claggett, B., Cheng, S., Henglin, M., Shah, A., Steffen, L. M., Folsom, A. R., Rimm, E. B., Willett, W. C., & Solomon, S. D. (2018). Dietary carbohydrate intake and mortality: a prospective cohort study and meta-analysis. The Lancet Public Health, 3(9), e419–e428. https://doi.org/10.1016/s2468-2667(18)30135-x
 Kathryn H Schmitz and others, Strength training and adiposity in premenopausal women: Strong, Healthy, and Empowered study, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 86, Issue 3, September 2007, Pages 566–572, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/86.3.566
Susan Chanda is a professional content writer/journalist with over 20 years’ experience. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing management from University of South Africa and a diploma in Journalism and Public relations.
Susan has been writing evidence based fitness and health articles since 2016 for Fitness Chat, and is a certified fitness trainer, and diet and nutrition coach.
Fitness Chat is one of the several other websites that Susan owns, or co-owns with her children.
You can read more about Susan here.