17 Weight Loss Myths You Still Believe

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Losing weight can be pretty straight forward. But, when searching for the best ways to lose weight, you’ll run into some myths and bad advice. These myths make losing weight harder than it has to be and might even throw off your progress.

Myth 1: Eating Small, Frequent Meals Boosts Metabolism

And the first myth is the idea that eating small but frequent meals will boost your metabolism.

This is a widespread belief, so it’s okay if you’ve been under the impression that it’s true. There are even some doctors still pushing this false information.


But the research shows a different story.

In fact, a large meta-analysis found that—regardless of whether you’re eating all your daily calories at once or splitting them up and nibbling throughout the day—as long as calories are matched, there should be no difference in your metabolic rate [1].

So focus more on setting up your diet in a way that you can be consistent with rather than worrying so much about your meal frequency. You don’t need to eat 5 to 6 meals a day to get lean and look great.

Myth 2: Eating at Night Makes You Fat

Next, we have the belief that eating late at night makes you fatter than eating earlier in the day. This has proven to be completely untrue.

Many studies have shown that merely eating later at night doesn’t make you fat.


In one of these studies, researchers found that eating carbs at night didn’t impair fat loss even after 6 months [2].

And it might surprise you to learn that researchers observed more favorable weight loss and hormonal changes in the group that ate most of their carbs for dinner [3].

So it’s totally okay to eat some food later on at night. Just don’t make the mistake of staying up too late and mindlessly eating junk food instead of getting to sleep.

Myth 3: Dietary Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat

Another myth that has become a lot more popular lately is that dietary fat won’t make you fat. For a long time, people believed that fat was the primary macronutrient that leads to weight gain.


As a society, we went on this low fat craze, where a ton of processed foods had the fats replaced with sugar, and it turned out, people got even fatter. But nowadays, for many, the pendulum has swung in the other direction.

So instead of being fearful of fats, there’s now this belief that since dietary fat can’t raise your insulin levels, it’s unlikely that you’ll gain body fat by eating more dietary fat.


However, the truth is that your body can still store calories very well, even without the presence of insulin [4].

While it can be very beneficial to straighten out your hormones and manage your insulin levels with a proper diet… It doesn’t change the fact that a calorie from dietary fat can be just as “fattening” as a calorie coming from carbohydrates.


Myth 4: Dieting Causes Permanent Metabolic Damage

Next, there’s the belief that dieting and especially fasting causes permanent metabolic damage by putting you into a starvation mode.


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Well, according to a review study by Menno Henselmans, starvation modes and metabolic damage don’t exist. Menno Henselmans is a physique competitor and a very reliable scientific author in sports science. In his study, he and other researchers confirmed that the theory of permanent, diet-induced metabolic slowing isn’t supported by any current scientific evidence [5].

Myth 5: Overweight People Have Slow Metabolisms

Moving on, we have a common myth that serves more so as an excuse than anything else. This idea that overweight people must have very slow metabolisms.

On the contrary, it might surprise you to learn that it’s actually the other way around.

The heavier you are, the higher your resting metabolic rate tends to be [6]. In other words, overweight individuals typically have a faster metabolism than people that maintain a healthy weight.


Now, of course, someone that’s overweight can also have a thyroid issue that drastically slows down their metabolism. However, being overweight alone is not in itself proof or even a sign of a slow metabolism.

Myth 6: Intermittent Fasting is the Best Way to Lose Weight

Next, we have the false belief that the best way to lose fat is with intermittent fasting. And let me just say right away that my favorite way to burn fat is with intermittent fasting.

Still, just like there’s no rule requiring you to eat 5 or 6 meals throughout the day, there’s also no rule requiring you to fast throughout the day.

As long as you consume the same number of calories, it doesn’t matter when you consume them. And that’s regardless of whether you consume the calories by spreading them evenly throughout the day or packing them together into a short feeding window that’s then followed by a fast.


For example, a systematic review concluded that intermittent fasting produces very similar effects to continuous energy restriction when the goal is to reduce body weight and body fat [7].

They also note that intermittent fasting doesn’t create any specific biological conditions that enhance weight loss [8].


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However, with that said, intermittent fasting can inadvertently lead to fewer calories consumed throughout the day, which therefore, benefits weight loss. It can be harmful to other people, where intermittent fasting leads to more calories being consumed due to uncontrollable hunger.

So I always say to set up your diet to fit your preferences and be consistent with it.

Myth 7: Diet Soda Blocks Fat Loss

Our next myth is that diet soda will inhibit or block fat loss.

Now, diet soda has its fair share of problems. It’s not exactly the healthiest beverage for you because it’s usually full of aspartame.


However, this doesn’t mean that it negatively impacts fat loss. In fact, research shows that if used to replace high-calorie beverages, diet soda may benefit weight loss [9].

So if you’re struggling with giving up soda, drinking diet soda can be a beneficial way to control your calories. However, do your best to drink less diet soda and more water over time.

Myth 8: Fat Can Be Converted to Muscle

Another widespread false belief is that you can turn fat into muscle.

To make it crystal clear, it’s physiologically impossible to turn body fat into muscle.

It’s like trying to turn a pear into a watermelon – it just won’t work. But what you can do is burn fat and build new muscle tissue at the same time.


This happens most often when beginner lifters first start to exercise and lose weight.

Since they’re very out of shape before getting started, they can lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously. This coincidentally makes them believe that they turned the fat into muscle.

Myth 9: Ab Exercises Spot-Reduce Belly Fat

Well, the science shows that you actually can’t, regardless of how many crunches you do or how much belly fat you have [10].

We’ve known this for a long time, but somehow, this myth continues to exist at a widespread level. Studies dating back to 2011 prove that you can’t target body fat with specific exercises [11].


To prove this, scientists had participants do four hours of ab training every week for six weeks.

But even with all that effort, the ab exercises lead to no belly fat reduction or fat loss in general.

In fact, the researchers stated that there was no significant change in “body weight, body fat percentage, abdominal circumference, or abdominal skinfold measurements.” [12]


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In other words, if you want to get a slim and shredded midsection, doing endless amounts of crunches and sit-ups isn’t the answer.

Myth 10: Alcohol Hinders Weight Loss

Next is the idea that you can’t drink alcohol if you want to lose weight.

The truth is that you can lose weight even if you drink alcohol as long as you’re in a calorie deficit [13]. So, it’s not true that you have to give up all alcoholic beverages entirely if you want to drop pounds off the scale.


With that said, alcohol does contain a decent number of calories. Seven calories per gram of alcohol, to be exact. It can also impair fat burning while you process the alcohol.

People often consume high-calorie junk foods when their willpower fades away after having a couple of drinks. So for these reasons, it’s still wise to limit your drinking, but you don’t have to completely stop just to lose some weight.

Myth 11: Dairy is Uniquely Fattening

Another mistake is believing that dairy is uniquely fattening. And I thought this for a while too. After all, most dairy products come from cow’s milk.

And cow’s milk is produced by cows basically to helps their calves grow into full-grown cows.


However, the truth is that dairy itself won’t make you fatter than other sources containing the same amount of calories.

Randomized controlled trials show us that increased dairy consumption doesn’t necessarily increase body fat levels [14].

With that said, there are a couple things to keep in mind.

First, it’s typically easier to consume more liquid calories than solid calories. So if you’re randomly drinking glasses of milk throughout the day, you’ll most likely struggle to lose any weight.

And the second thing is that about 65 percent of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose.


If your body can’t digest lactose well, consuming dairy can lead to bloating, which some people misattribute as fat gain. But bloating and fat gain are not the same thing.

Myth 12: Cheat Days Boost Metabolism

The next flawed weight loss myth is that you need cheat days to boost your metabolism and lose fat.

Although cheat days can help some people manage their cravings better and stick to their diet, they can also completely backfire for those who turn their cheat meals into a binge eating session. So you definitely shouldn’t feel obligated to throw in cheat days because you’re worried about your metabolism slowing down.


We can see proof of this in a study that evaluated the metabolic effects of eating at 140 percent of calorie maintenance for three days on a high-carb diet [15]. And despite that huge calorie surplus, total daily energy expenditure increased by only 7 percent, leaving them in a 33 percent net calorie surplus.

So bottom line, going all out on your cheat meals won’t increase your metabolism enough to make up for all those extra calories.

Myth 13: Fad Diets are Best

Many people believe Keto and other low-carb diets are superior for fat loss. Well turns out this isn’t true.

Many studies show that the ratio of carbs to fat in a diet doesn’t affect weight and fat loss when given the same caloric intake [16].

In other words, keto and low-carb diets are not superior for fat loss.


We have studies and systematic reviews that clearly show that diets low in carbs and fat work equally as well, as long as the person dieting sticks to their diet plan.

So if you’re on a very low carb diet and you happen to love carbs, chances are very high that your diet is not going to work because you won’t be sticking to that plan for very long.

Myth 14: Weighing Yourself Daily is Bad

Another myth that I used to believe is that you should never weigh yourself daily if you want to lose fat.

Many other trainers and I used to think that it was terrible for your mental health to check your weight more than once a week. We believed doing so would create an obsession with the number on the scale.


But really, the best advice is to not only rely on the number on the scale to measure your progress. That’s because whether you’re a man or woman, adding muscle makes it look like you gained weight on the scale.

That’s why you should also base your results on what you’re seeing in the mirror, not just the scale alone.

But there’s nothing really wrong with weighing yourself more often.


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In fact, weighing yourself daily can actually optimize fat loss for some people, according to a 2015 systematic review [17]. The researchers in this study concluded that “regular self-weighing can assist with weight loss and is not directly associated with negative psychological outcomes.” [18]

Meanwhile, another earlier systematic review found that weighing yourself regularly can make you less likely to regain pounds lost [19].

I do have to say that this is one thing that does depend on the person. If weighing yourself every day is a source of stress, then simply do it less often.

Myth 15: Fasted Workouts Burn More Fat

Next is the myth that fasted workouts burn more fat.

In a small weight loss study, researchers split twenty participants into two groups [20]. Both groups maintained a daily calorie deficit of 500 calories. And the only difference between the groups was that one did three hours of fasted cardio per week while the other did the same amount of cardio in a fed state.


After four weeks, both groups lost a significant amount of fat, but there was no difference in fat loss.

Ultimately, the results show it doesn’t matter whether you workout fasted or fed as long as you consume the same number of calories throughout the day. This is because doing this produces similar fat loss results [21, 22, 23, 24]

Myth 16: Cardio is Necessary for Weight Loss

Now we’re down to our last two, and the next is the very prevalent idea that you must do cardio to lose weight.

However, a meta-analysis of 14 studies involving 1,847 overweight and obese people found that “isolated aerobic exercise is not a very effective weight loss therapy for overweight and obese people” [25].


Meanwhile, another meta-analysis, mostly examining cardio, also found that adding aerobic exercise to a diet plan didn’t promote weight loss more than merely sticking to the diet plan without adding in cardio [26].

In this study, the only difference between the group that was dieting and doing cardio versus the group that was just dieting without doing any cardio, was 11 kilograms of weight loss versus 10.7 kilograms of weight loss [27].

Myth 17: Sleep Doesn’t Effect Weight Loss

Finally, our last myth is that sleep isn’t that important for weight loss.

We have a large meta-analysis that disproves this. It involved over 600,000 adults. And researchers found that poor sleepers are 55% more likely to become obese [28].


This is because low-quality sleep increases hunger by suppressing satiating hormones like leptin while raising your hunger hormone ghrelin levels [29]. As a result, you’ll feel hungrier, and that could cause you to eat more calories.

Not only does not sleeping enough make it harder to burn fat, but it also leads to muscle loss, which pushes you even further away from your fitness goals. [30, 31].

So those are the 17 common weight loss myths that many of you might have believed in before reading this. I hope I’ve helped provide you with some clarity.


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[1] “Studies using whole-body calorimetry and doubly-labelled water to assess total 24 h energy expenditure find no difference between nibbling and gorging.”


[2] Researchers found that eating carbs at night didn’t impair fat loss.


[3] “Greater weight loss and hormonal changes after 6 months diet with carbohydrates eaten mostly at dinner.”


[4] Your body can store calories very well even without the presence of insulin, which is why a calorie from dietary fat is just as “fattening” as a calorie from carb or protein.



[5] “Our findings indicate that the theory of permanent, diet-induced metabolic slowing in non-obese individuals is not supported by the current literature.”


[6] The heavier you are, the higher your resting metabolic rate tends to be.



[7] “Intermittent fasting appears to produce similar effects to continuous energy restriction to reduce body weight, fat mass, fat-free mass.”


[8] “It does not appear to attenuate other adaptive responses to energy restrictive or improve weight loss efficiency.”


[9] Research indicates that diet sodas may even benefit weight loss if you use them to replace other caloric beverages like regular soda.



[10] The academic literature shows you cannot get rid of belly fat by doing ab exercises.



[11] Here’s an example of a great study disproving targeted fat loss around the midsection from crunches. It’s 2011 study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.


[12] “There was no significant effect of abdominal exercises on body weight, body fat percentage. . . abdominal circumference, abdominal skinfold and suprailiac skinfold measurements.”


[13] You can lose weight even if you drink alcohol as long as you’re in a calorie deficit.



[14] In randomized controlled trials, increased dairy intakes did not increase body fat levels.


[15] Fat’s can still make you fat:


[16] Many studies show that the ratio of carbs to fat in a diet doesn’t affect weight and fat loss given the same caloric intake.






[17] If you want to optimize fat loss, it doesn’t hurt, and may even help to weigh yourself daily, as indicated by a 2015 systematic literature review.


[18] “Regular self-weighing has been associated with weight loss and not with negative psychological outcomes.”


[19] A 2008 systematic literature review found that stepping on the scale regularly makes you less likely to regain pounds lost.


[20] Weight-loss study by Brad Schoenfeld and his colleagues in which they found no difference between fasted vs fed cardio.


[21] “Body composition changes associated with aerobic exercise in conjunction with a hypocaloric diet are similar regardless whether or not an individual is fasted prior to training.”


[22] What’s more, another systematic review and meta-analysis found similar results.


[23] “Fasted compared to fed exercise does not increase the amount of weight and fat mass loss.”


[24] “Weight loss and fat loss from exercise is more likely to be enhanced through creating a meaningful caloric deficit over a period of time, rather than exercising in fasted or fed states.”


[25] A meta-analysis of 14 studies involving 1,847 overweight and obese subjects evaluated if cardio benefits weight loss. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21787904/

[26] A meta-analysis, one that mostly examined cardio, also found that adding aerobic exercise to a diet plan did not promote weight loss more than a regimen excluding it.


[27] The only difference between the group that was dieting and doing cardio versus the group that was just dieting without doing any cardio was 11 kilograms of weight loss versus 10.7 kilograms of weight loss.

**See table 2


[28] One meta-analysis involving 604,509 adults found that poor sleepers are 55% more likely to become obese.


[29] Low-quality sleep increases hunger by suppressing satiating hormones like leptin while raising the levels of your hunger hormone ghrelin.

**See Figure 3A and 3B


[30] One weight loss study found that sleeping 40 fewer minutes per day from Monday to Friday shifted the ratio of lean to fat mass loss from 20% to 80%,


[31] Another study revealed that sleeping 5.5 instead of 7.5 hours a day increased fat-free mass loss by 60% while raising the fraction of weight lost as fat by 55%