Common Fat Loss Myths…Busted!

Some fat loss myths just won’t die.

I’ve been involved in the fitness industry for over 20 years as an athlete, trainer and coach, and for some reason, certain myths persist. On Friday, April 17th I had the opportunity to visit the set of Colorado’s Best show here in Denver to help de-bunk my top 4 fat loss myths once and for all and share my tips for shaping up for summer.

The segment is short, only about 5 minutes, and you may view it by clicking on the photo below:


Let’s take a closer look at each of these myths:

1). The scale is the best judge of progress 

False. The scale merely tells us gravity’s impact on your mass. It is NO reflection of your levels of body fat versus lean muscle mass. In fact, many who begin a resistance training plan will see little to no change in scale weight for several weeks. While this can be maddening to most, it doesn’t necessarily mean things aren’t changing.

MANY factors affect scale weight, including water retention or dehydration, hormones, you name it. If you don’t believe me, weigh yourself first thing in the morning and then again right before you go to bed. Chances are you may see as much as a five pound increase (or more).

What happened? Did you gain five pounds in a day? No. Of course not. You ate, drank, and maybe exercised. The human body is never static and is forever changing and adjusting. Wake up in the morning and POOF!, most likely those “pounds” are gone.

Bust it: Ditch the scale altogether,  or make it a habit to weigh yourself no more than once every two weeks, at the same time of the day, on the same day of the week. Also, use other means of measuring progress such as circumference measurements, body fat tests, and simply how your clothes fit and the changes you see in the mirror.

2). Muscle weighs more than fat 

This one really makes me cringe. For the last time, five pounds of muscle and five pounds of fat both weigh……wait for it…..FIVE POUNDS!!! Just like a pound of feathers and a pound of bricks both weigh a pound. What makes them VERY different? Their density.

Take a look at this photo…….

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 5.29.23 PM

5 lbs fat vs. 5 pounds muscle. Yuck!


BIG difference, right? The muscle is denser and therefore   takes up less space in the body than the disgusting, lumpy fat. Alas, they both weigh five pounds.

Bust it: This illustration is yet another example as to why you should NEVER rely on the scale. Focus on adding lean body mass, follow a balanced diet, and while you may not see the scale shift as much as you like, you WILL get smaller, tighter, and, well, denser.


3). Women shouldn’t lift heavy weights because they will get “bulky” and “look like a man” 

Girl, please!  The average woman’s hand bag weighs 5.2 pounds, and the average one year old weighs 20 pounds.

I’ve seen you shlepping child, bag and groceries from the car up the stairs with one hand while talking on your cell phone, and you want to tell me that you can’t lift more than 2 pound dumbbells in the gym?!

Let me explain something to you. Three primary things create big, “bulky” muscle:

1). A caloric surplus (i.e eating more than you burn), 2). A very particular style of training accompanied by said food, and 3). Testosterone.

Women have one tenth the naturally occurring testosterone as men.

Read my lips: that’s what builds the size. Size and STRENGTH are not mutually exclusive. 

You can be strong without getting huge. At best, if you’re lucky (because building muscle is actually a LOT harder than it sounds), you’l LOSE INCHES and look smaller, firmer and tighter with some nice definition here and there.

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 6.57.17 PM

True Story


 Bust It:  The results you crave will come from  CHALLENGING yourself in the gym (and of course by monitoring your nutrition). If sexy definition is what you want, then put down the weight you can lift for 50 repetitions and go find the weight you can lift for no more than 8-15 repetitions. I guarantee you’re a LOT stronger than you think you are.


I also guarantee that you WON’T get bulky, you’ll get awesome (unless you’re still overeating, then you will get bulky because you haven’t lost the fat covering up your pretty muscle).


4). Spot Reduction 

Here’s a scenario I encounter in the studio almost weekly. Client approaches me ( male or female, this phenomenon is not gender specific) and says:

“Jacqui, how do I get rid of THIS?” (said while grabbing onto some part of their body, usually the abdomen, upper arms, or thighs)

My response? Keep doing what you’re doing. We don’t get to choose where fat comes off first, or last.

It just doesn’t work that way. Yes we’re genetically predisposed to store fat in certain areas, which vary widely from person to person and among men and women.

Oh, boy....

Oh, boy….

But a million crunches won’t give you a flat stomach. The Thigh Master won’t give you slim thighs, and the 50’s style body-shaker thingy won’t, uh, shake the fat off of you.

You MUST lose the fat on top. How?

There’s that “N” word again…… nutrition!

Bust It: We have two “True-isms” in the fitness community:

1). “Abs are made in the kitchen”

2). “You can’t out-train a bad diet.”



Without a balanced diet designed to help you shed fat, you will get stronger, your endurance will improve, but you won’t see that coveted definition and lose that stubborn fat from that troublesome spot. 

Train your WHOLE body, not just the trouble areas. You’ll improve posture, balance, and strength by doing so. Begin to see the body as a whole unit and not individual parts.

And last but not least, be patient. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but it’s the truth.

Fat loss takes time. There’s no “quick fix”  (that doesn’t involve surgery or drugs).

Stay the course. Do the work. You’ll be happy you did.


What’s the most common fat loss myth YOU hear, in the gym or otherwise? Post in the comments below!

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