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Obesity

Your one stop shop for everything you need to know about obesity. Discover the health risks of obesity, how it can be caused by genetic factors, and put common obesity myths to rest, once and for all.

7 Biggest Myths About Excess Body Fat

When it comes to the concept of “fat,” there are numerous misconceptions and myths. From justifying fitness levels based on body fat to trying to reduce it with a restrictive diet, get in the know and learn the truth about body fat.

7 Biggest Myths About Excess Body Fat


Myth #1: The lower the body fat, the better.

The Truth: One of the most common misconceptions people have about body fat is the lower the body fat, the better. While too much can be harmful to health, body fat is absolutely essential for overall health for both males and females, including acting as a cushion to protect essential organs, regulating body temperature, and storing fat-soluble vitamins.

If body fat is too low, not only can these functions become compromised, but can cause serious risks to the heart, impair workout performance and muscle recovery, imbalance hormones, increase susceptibility to illness, and the list goes on…

The American Council on Exercise’s ideal body composition percentage chart can be found here.

Myth #2: Body fat determines fitness levels.

The Truth: A person carrying excess body does not automatically classify them as “unfit,” nor does someone with a low body fat become automated as “fit.” A person can consume a nutritious diet, exercise on a regular basis, sustain healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels and still carry excess body fat, while someone living a sedentary lifestyle can remain thin.

So when it comes down to it, people come in all different shapes and sizes and someone with a larger frame can be just as healthy, if not healthier, than someone who comparable in size or smaller.

The bottom line: Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, as there are many other factors that contribute to overall vigor and health beyond body fat content.

Myth #3: The body can turn excess body fat into muscle.

The Truth: Fat and muscle are separate: You burn off fat and build muscle through different physiological processes.

These processes can, however, run concurringly with the pairing of aerobic activity with strength and resistance training. Diet, sleep, and stress also are lifestyle factors that influence fat loss and muscle gain.

Myth #4: Body fat is caused by consuming dietary fat.

The Truth: Unlike popular believe, eating fat does not necessarily lead to excess body fat. In fact, dietary fat, particularly unsaturated fat, lends some remarkable benefits, including heart, skin, and mental health.

What can increase body fat percentage, though, is an excess of calorically-dense foods and a sedentary lifestyle amongst other factors.

Myth #5: Excess body fat is always carried around the belly.

The Truth: Although the abdomen is a common carrier of excess weight, and tends to be the easiest to spot, it is not the only area that can store body fat.

So just because someone is not retaining excess body fat around their mid-section, does not mean excess body fat is not stored in the buttocks, thighs, arms, and other areas. Furthermore, some people can have a thinner frame, but still have more body fat than they should and highlights the importance of taking total body fat percentage into consideration.

Ultimately, where fat decides to store itself is influenced by number of factors, including genetics, sex, and hormones.

Myth #6: You can target specific areas of body fat.

The Truth: Although you might be actively trying to spot reduce your waistline, there is no type or amount of ab exercises that can singly do so.

While you can tone specific parts of the body, the only way to reduce body fat in any area of the body is through overall weight loss, particularly with a consistent workout regimen and nutritious diet.

Myth #7: The best way to lose excess body fat is with a restrictive diet.

The Truth: Yes, restricting foods and calories might lead to quick weight loss. However, restrictive diets can tarnish health goals in the long run.

So if wondering how to lose excess body fat for long-term results, first dismiss the temptation of shortcuts. Sustainable weight loss requires consistently consuming nutrient-dense foods, including both cardiovascular and strength training exercises, managing stress, and sleeping the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

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