The Ten Biggest Fat Loss Lies – EXPOSED!

If you’ve ever walked into a health food store and asked for information about supplements…
If you’ve ever read any one of the many popular bodybuilding or fitness magazines…
If you’ve ever read the latest best-selling diet book…If you’ve ever watched late night TV and listened to a diet or fitness guru preach about an amazing new diet, exercise machine or supplement…If you’ve ever surfed the web for information about diet, nutrition or training…
If you’ve ever done ANY of these things, then chances are…


Are you shocked? Surprised? Outraged? If so, then join the club – you’re not alone. Honest information about nutrition and fat loss is harder to come by than ever before, and nearly everyone has been mislead at one time or another.

To successfully navigate through this bog of misinformation, you’re going to have to become a very shrewd and discriminating consumer. The purpose of this article is to help you do just that.

There are three reasons why it’s so hard to find truthful information these days:

1) Money (Greed). Weight loss is a 30 billion-dollar a year industry. With this kind of money at stake, unscrupulous marketers will tell you anything – even outright lies – to get you to buy their products and to further their financial interests.

2) Information overload. Now that we’re in the information age, lack of information is not a problem anymore. The problem these days is too much information. Fitness and diet “guru’s” preach about their “latest breakthroughs” on TV infomercials 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Hundreds, even thousands of diet and exercise books fill bookstore shelves. Dozens of magazines clutter the newsstands every month. And to top it all off, the explosion of the Internet is adding to this “info-quagmire” at an exponential rate.

3) Conflicting advice. Even industry professionals such as registered dieticians, research scientists, MD’s, Phd’s, and certified trainers, give a tremendous amount of contradictory advice. There are a lot of opinions out there and everyone seems to tell us something different.

This has left a lot of people frustrated, disillusioned, and thoroughly confused. It’s hard to know whom or what to believe anymore.

I want to do something about that. I want to do something that almost no one else has the guts to do: That is, to tell the complete, unadulterated truth.

So, without further ado, here they are; the top 10 biggest fat loss lies – exposed!

Fat Loss Lie #1: You need supplements to lose fat.

Supplements are not necessary to lose body fat. Exercise and nutrition are the only things you need to lose fat permanently. Some supplements can help speed up the process a little, but not nearly as much as you may have been lead to believe.

Supplements are only responsible for a small fraction of the results you achieve. Based on 19 years of experience, I believe that 95-97% of your results will come from good training and good nutrition. If most of your results come from diet and training, doesn’t it make more sense to maximize the 95-97% first?


Believe it or not, advanced trainees, competitive bodybuilders or athletes will probably benefit more from using supplements than beginners. High level athletes are more likely to have “maxed” out their training and diet programs.

Once you’ve reached a high level of development from intelligent, intense, methodical training and quality nutrition, then progress always comes more slowly. At this point, every little bit extra counts – that’s when supplements are most useful.

In world class athletics, competitions can be won or lost by hundredths of a second, a tenth of a point, a fraction of a pound, or a single judge’s opinion. The extra 3-5% that supplements may provide could be the difference between winning and losing.

Now let’s look at the average beginner or intermediate who hasn’t perfected their diet and training yet: They’re still eating junk foods and skipping meals. They’re not even working out, or at least not consistently. And what do they do FIRST? You guessed it; they immediately run out searching for a “shortcut!”

It’s a shame that so many people are looking for easy ways instead of making the effort to learn how to eat and train better. Achievement expert Brian Tracy once said, “Superior people never wish it were easier, they wish they were better!”

It makes no sense to “dive” into supplements first in hopes of finding an easier way. Get your nutrition and training in order first; maximize the 95%. Once you reach that level, then by all means, take advantage of every legal and ethical edge possible to help you fulfill 100% of your potential.

If anyone tries to convince you that you can’t do it without supplements, beware; they are probably just trying to sell you something.

Fat Loss Lie #2: The only way to get really lean is to “starve” yourself.

Most commercial diet programs are very low in calories. Many border on starvation: 1200 calories, 1000 calories, even 800 calories or less!

BE WARNED! Starving the fat off doesn’t work (at least not permanently).

In fact, very low calorie diets can actually make you fatter!

It’s is the ultimate paradox:

When you eat less, your body burns less. When you eat more, your body burns more.

Very low calorie diets slow down your metabolism and cause you to lose muscle. Eventually they shut down your metabolism completely. When this happens, the weight loss stops and any increase in calories that follows will cause immediate fat gain. This rebound effect is inevitable, because no one can stay on low calories forever.

Carefully scrutinize the calorie recommendations of any diet program before you start it. You’ll probably discover that 95% of them have you slash your calories to starvation levels. That’s why they work in the beginning – because you are starving. But they never work for long.

Your body is smart. As soon as you are in danger of starving, your body will quickly adjust your metabolic rate downward like a thermostat, so you burn fewer calories.

The only way to lose fat and keep it off permanently is to reduce your calories slightly and increase your activity greatly.

The Moral: It is better to burn the fat than to starve the fat.

Fat Loss Lie #3: You can believe everything you read in the magazines.

Most magazine publishers own supplement companies and use their magazines as a means for promoting their products. Certain well-known magazines have been doing this for decades. One day, it dawned on the rest of them that more money could be made selling supplements than selling advertising or subscriptions. Soon, everyone jumped on the bandwagon and started supplement companies.

You see, magazines have credibility. After all, they can’t print a lie right there on paper, can they? Editorials are much more believable than advertising. Most people will believe anything that is printed in a “reputable” medium. That’s why magazines are the perfect vehicles for promoting supplements.

Did you ever notice how many magazine articles are about the latest “breakthrough” in supplements? These “articles” aren’t really articles at all; they are nothing more than advertisements in disguise! (with an 800 number for easy ordering at the end!)

Even if a magazine doesn’t have a vested interest in a line of supplements, you still can’t count on them to reveal the whole truth to you because they don’t want to offend the deep-pocketed companies that are spending big money to advertise.

A full-page ad in a high circulation national magazine can cost tens of thousands of dollars. With this kind of money at stake, do you think any magazine will print an article saying supplements don’t work and on the very next page run an ad for the same supplements they are knocking? Not very likely is it?

This is the same reason you often get better investing advice from the smaller, lesser-known financial newsletters than you do from the major financial magazines and newspapers; because the major publishers don’t want to write editorials that will upset the advertisers.

The bottom line? Don’t believe everything you read. Question everything. Use your head. Use common sense and your own good judgement. Beware of hidden motives. Just because it’s right there in black and white doesn’t mean it’s true.

Fat Loss Lie #4: Meal replacement products and diet shakes help you “burn” fat.

Supplement companies would like you to believe that meal replacement products (MRP’s) have some sort of “magical” fat reducing properties. The truth is that MRP’s are nothing more than “powdered food” (or “liquid food”).

Listen: The primary benefit of MRP’s is convenience.

It’s difficult to eat frequently, so MRP’s are great when you’re in a hurry and you don’t have time to eat whole foods, but they are not better than food, no matter what any supplement “guru” says.

Owners of supplement companies will say that MRP’s are the greatest thing since sliced bread or electricity. That shouldn’t come as any surprise; sales of these products run in the tens of millions of dollars each year.

Whenever you have a choice, and whenever time permits, you should always choose whole foods over MRP’s.

Eating real food is better than drinking meal replacement products (MRP’s). The human gastrointestinal system has evolved to efficiently digest whole food, not powders or pills. The process of digesting solid food every three hours actually increases your metabolic rate. This is known as the “thermic effect of food.” Powders fail to take advantage of this metabolic boost.

John Parillo is a trainer, nutritionist and author of several excellent books on bodybuilding. Even though Parillo sells his own line of supplements (and he does push them quite heavily at times), listen to what he wrote about MRP’s:

“Food is the cornerstone of nutrition. If you do not eat the proper foods – lean proteins, starchy carbohydrates, and fibrous carbohydrates – nothing else matters. No supplement can ever provide you with all the benefits that food supplies. We were built to process foods – proteins, carbohydrates and fats – not powdered or liquid supplements alone. If you want to make the best possible progress with your physique, I suggest that you forget the hype surrounding all supplement diets or meal replacement programs and get back to basics. And that means food.”

I suggest you heed Mr. Parillo’s advice.

Fat Loss Lie #5: Thermogenic “fat burners” that contain ephedrine and caffeine are the “end all – be all” of weight loss products.

Xenadrine, Hydroxycut, Metabolife, Thermadrol, Diet Fuel, Stacker and Ripped Fuel. Ever heard of any of these? If not, you must have been living in a cave somewhere for the past few years because “thermogenic” fat burning pills have become the hottest weight loss craze in the history of the industry.

Millions of dollars are spent on these products every year and there’s no end in sight to this fat burning pill feeding frenzy. But are these products all they’re made out to be? Let me set the record straight once and for all.

Open up any bodybuilding or fitness magazine these days and you’ll see multi-page advertisements boasting of amazing results, with dramatic photos of physiques allegedly transformed by using these products.

One headline says “Proven to increase fat loss 1700%.” Another says “Burn up to 613% more fat!” Still another says, “34 times more fat lost than control group.”

Frankly, the hype surrounding these products is starting to get out of hand.

Where did these numbers come from?

1700% or 613% or 34 times greater THAN WHAT?

It’s all too easy for supplement companies to cleverly take statistics out of context – just one of many sneaky tricks they have up their advertising sleeves. (Sounds to me like they’ve been studying the infamous book, “How to Lie With Statistics.”)

If any supplement really did burn 1700% more body fat, there wouldn’t be any fat people left! But there are: There are more overweight people in the United States than ever before!

Don’t believe the hype! Thermogenic fat burners help you perhaps 3-5%. These products work, but they don’t work miracles.

Most of your results will come from hard training and a good diet. There are no magic bullets. Why is it that people just don’t seem to get this? It’s human nature, I suppose. We all want instant gratification, so it’s awfully easy to be swayed by the glossy four page magazine spreads with those mind blowing (doctored?) before and after photos.

Supplement companies are very shrewd marketers. Testimonials, endorsements, scientific studies and before and after photos are incredibly persuasive. Even the names of the products were carefully chosen: Do you think it’s a coincidence that the herbal supplement “Xenadrine” sounds a lot like the prescription drug Xenical? Not a week goes by that someone doesn’t e-mail me asking me about the “DRUG” Xenadrine.

My friend, listen carefully: If you want to lose body fat, get your diet and training program in order FIRST. Once you’re eating nutritiously, restricting your caloric intake, doing cardio and working out with weights, then and only then – and only if you have a clean bill of health – should you try a thermogenic herbal product if you need an extra boost.

I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again, there are no shortcuts. The “secret” to permanently losing body fat is not supplements or drugs, it is the combination of good nutrition and a solid training program.

Fat Loss Lie #6: Losing fat can be accomplished quickly and easily.

Losing fat is simple, but for most people it is NOT easy. There’s a big difference between simple and easy:

“Simple” means there is nothing complicated about the process – it’s like an algebra formula; just plug in the numbers where the X’s and Y’s are and the formula always produces the correct result.

“Easy” implies that something can be done with little or no effort. Anyone who tells you they’ve discovered an “easy” way to lose fat is lying.

Getting a lean and muscular body requires two things:

1) You must be willing to work hard
2) You must be patient

The problem with many people is that they shy away from anything that appears to be hard work. They are always looking for short cuts. As soon as they see something that promises results “quickly,” “easily,” “effortlessly,” “while they sleep,” “without exercise,” and so on, they whip out their wallets and fall for it hook, line and sinker.

Shortcuts always fail! Take a shortcut and you’re bound to get lost – or smack into a brick wall!

Everything worth having in life has a price attached to it – EVERYTHING! If you want to have a lean and muscular body, you must be willing to pay the price for a lean and muscular body. STOP looking for easy ways. Just pay the price and it’s yours.

It’s an absolutely unbreakable law of the universe: You can’t get something for nothing. Your results will come in direct proportion to the amount of effort you put in. You can only reap what you sow.

Make no mistake; people who have great bodies, especially bodybuilders and fitness models, have worked very hard for a very long time to get where they are. The best natural bodybuilders in the world (Skip Lacour, for example) are in their mid to late 30’s and they have been training for 10 to 15 years.

You wouldn’t expect to step out on a golf course for the very first time and hit the ball like Tiger Woods would you? Of course not! In fact, you’d probably have a hard time keeping the ball on the course. Then how could you possibly expect to start a nutrition program or walk into the gym for the first time and get results overnight? You can’t…

Mastery of anything takes time and effort.

Fat Loss Lie #7: Some people will never be able to lose weight and they should just give up and accept their genetics for what they are.

It’s true; your heredity will, to a large degree, dictate your athletic ability and the ease with which you will be able to lose fat or gain muscle. However, it’s a lie to say that some people can’t lose weight because they’ve inherited a “slow metabolism.”

Let’s be honest; not everyone is going to become an Olympic Gold medallist or a Mr. Universe or a Ms Fitness America. However, you should never just “accept your genetics” and give up. Everybody can lose fat. It just takes a little longer for some than for others.

Some people have inherited a metabolism and body type that tends to favor fat storage. These people are called “endomorphs.” Endomorphs may have a slower metabolism, they are often carbohydrate sensitive, they gain fat quickly when they eat poorly, they gain fat quickly if they don’t exercise, and they may hold onto stored fat, even on a clean, low fat diet.

Weight loss is easier for some than for others and that doesn’t seem fair. But that’s the way life is. Life isn’t fair. This simply means you’re going to have to adjust your diet and training to fit your body type and metabolism.

You may have to work harder than other people. You may have to be more persistent than other people. You might need a stricter diet than other people. You might need to train harder than other people. You might have less margin for error (fewer cheat days).

The only question is: Are you willing to do what it takes for you?

I write and speak about the role of genetics in fitness a lot and the reason is because I’m sick and tired of hearing people using their “bad genetics” as an excuse for why they can’t get in shape. As Richard Bach wrote, “Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they’re yours.”

It’s amazing what a human being can achieve when they have a crystal clear goal and they are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. Genetic limitations seem to evaporate.

Need proof?

Marla Runyan is a world champion middle distance runner. At the 2000 Olympic trials in Sacramento, Runyan captured third in the 1500 meters, finishing in 4:06.44; a time good enough to gain her a berth on the 2000 US Olympic team.

At the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Merah-Benida of Algeria won the 1500 meters in 4 minutes, 05.10 seconds. Violeta Szekely of Romania won the silver and Gabriela Szabo of Romania won the bronze. Runyan was eighth crossing the finish line in 4:08.30.

Disappointing? Not when you consider that Runyan has been legally blind since her 9th birthday. Marla suffers from a genetically inherited disease of the retina, called Stargardt’s. She is considered legally blind because her condition cannot be corrected. Her vision is limited to the peripheral – she can only see shapes in front of her, and can’t even make out the face of her coach ten feet away. Despite this so-called handicap, Marla Runyan is the eighth best runner in the world in the 1500 meters.

The first U.S. paralympian to reach the Olympics, Runyan says she doesn’t even look at her lack of sight as an obstacle; “I think my vision is just a circumstance that happened and I don’t look at it as a barrier. I never said I want to be the first legally blind runner to make the Olympics. I just wanted to be an Olympian.”

“I have been legally blind for 20 years. I am very used to my eyes and how the world appears to me. In fact, I am so used to it that I often forget I see things differently from everyone else. The track looks the same to me as it did 15 years ago. Therefore, I do not consider my vision impairment a “handicap” when it comes to running. It is not a factor or an excuse for a bad race.”

And then there’s Carl Joseph. Carl Joseph was captain of his football team. He could dunk a basketball. He high jumped 5 feet 10 inches. He threw shot and discus. He was also born with only one leg.

Like Runyan, the difference between Carl and others with genetically inherited disabilities is nothing more than his attitude. Carl Joseph didn’t make excuses:

“A lot of people go through life wishing they could change this or that. God gave me one leg, and I’m just as happy and thankful to be healthy and to have done as much as I have. Ever since I was a kid I could do anything I wanted to. One leg or two, it didn’t make any difference to me. It’s all in the mind. My mind always told me I could do things, so I just went out and did them.”

When I first wrote about these two athletes as an example of what a genetically disadvantaged person can achieve, I received an e-mail from an angry reader. He wrote; “Those are terrible examples. – Will a positive attitude restore Marla’s sight? Will positive thinking re-grow Carl’s leg? Etc., etc…”

I feel sorry for this fellow because he entirely missed the point, and because of his own “vision problem” he has limited his own development. The answer to his questions of course, are no; The chances of any amount of positive mental attitude growing back a leg or restoring one’s sight are mighty slim. But that doesn’t matter; the difference between people like Marla and Carl and the man who wrote to me is that Marla and Carl didn’t use their disability as an excuse for not even trying.

Marla and Carl did the best they could with whatever they had. It was much harder for them; and even with all the effort, they still couldn’t reach the level of those without such disabilities. But being better than others was not the goal. What they did was to become the best they could be. So you don’t get a gold medal; is 8th best in the world so bad?

Fat loss lie #8: Zero carbohydrate or very low carbohydrate diets are the best way to lose body fat permanently.

No diet issue has created more confusion and controversy than the low carbohydrate vs. high carbohydrate debate.

Contrary to what certain diet “guru’s” tell you, carbohydrates are not fattening.

It is a flat out LIE to say “carbohydrates are fattening.” What’s fattening is eating more calories than your body can utilize at one time.

However, it’s true that some people lose weight more quickly on a low carbohydrate diet (that’s not the same thing as saying carbohydrates are fattening.) It’s also true that almost every bodybuilder or fitness competitor uses some variation of the low carb diet to prepare for competitions.

But very low carb diets are not the ultimate answer to permanent weight loss. At worst they are unhealthy. At best they are a temporary tool that should only be used for short periods to achieve specific fat loss goals (preparing for bodybuilding competition, for example).

Even for people who respond well to less carbs and more protein, there are many drawbacks:

1) Very low carb diets are difficult to stick to. If you remove carbohydrates from your diet for a long period of time, you are setting yourself up for cravings and bingeing. The more you cut back the carbs, bigger the rebound will be when you put carbs back in. That’s why 95% of people gain back all the weight they lose on a very low carb diet.

2) Very low carb diets are unbalanced and missing many nutrients. It’s never healthy to remove entire food groups from your diet for a prolonged period of time. A healthy diet is one that has balance between protein, carbs and fats and includes a wide variety of foods, not an overemphasis on one food or food group.

3) Very low carb diets may be unhealthy. Many low carb diets like the anabolic diet or the Atkins diet, suggest eating large amounts of saturated fat. (no pancakes allowed, but bacon, sausage and whole eggs for breakfast are just fine). In the absence of carbohydrates you can eat fat with protein and still lose weight, but it’s never smart to eat large amounts of saturated fat. If heart disease or health problems run in your family, you’re asking for serious trouble.

4) Very low carb diets cause your energy levels to plummet. Not only will you feel tired and irritable without carbs, but it will also affect your training: Low carbs = low energy. Low energy = poor workouts. Poor workouts = poor results.

5) The weight loss on a very low carb diet can be deceiving. You will definitely lose weight if you don’t eat carbs, but much of the weight will be muscle and water. Suppose you lose 5 lbs in one week on a low carb diet: That sounds impressive, but if one pound is fat, two pounds are water and two pounds are muscle, what good is that? Your goal should never be weight loss. Your goal should be to lose 1-2 pounds of fat per week while maintaining your lean body mass.

Most people will lose fat simply by adding a regular exercise routine to their schedule and by “cleaning up” their diets. By “cleaning up” your diet, I mean that you have mastered all the nutritional basics like eating small frequent meals, controlling portion sizes, cutting down on saturated fats, avoiding sugar and junk foods, etc.

What I’m saying is that a low carb diet should be considered a “last resort.” If you’ve already tried the conventional approach to dieting (which works for most people) then you might want to consider low carb diets as an alternative.

The conventional fat reducing diet looks something like this:

50-55% carbohydrates
30% protein
15-20% fat

If you choose the low carb approach to dieting, the best method is to decrease your carbohydrates moderately. Never cut your carbs out completely! It’s not necessary, it’s not healthy, it’s hard to stick to and it’s no fun! It’s usually not wise to go to extremes in anything and this is as true for nutrition as with anything else in life: moderation is the key.

The “modified” low carb diet might look something like this:

40% carbohydrates
40% protein
20% fat

Competitive bodybuilders might decrease the carbohydrates to 25-30% of total daily calories, but only for short periods right before competitions. They may also zig-zag their carbohydrate intake so that they don’t stay on low carbs all the time. Every few days or so, they have a high carb day.

My advice to you is forget about those diets that suggest you must go into ketosis or require you to limit your carbs to miniscule amounts, such as the common recommendation of 30 – 40 grams a day. Carb cutting, when taken to the extreme, will do more harm than good.

Fat Loss Lie #9: If you eat the right diet, you can lose fat permanently without exercise.

A full-page ad in a recent issue of the National Enquirer featured this headline:

“Lose up to 2 pounds daily… Without Exercise.”Yeah right! And you’ll make a million dollars a day too…without working! That’s a whopper of a lie if I’ve ever heard one.

Trying to lose fat without exercising is like trying to sit on a chair without four legs. If one leg is missing, your chair is going to fall over. An effective fat burning program must have four crucial components:

1. Aerobic exercise
2. A nutritious diet with a mild calorie deficit
3. Weight training
4. Goal setting and motivation

It is extremely difficult (if not impossible) to lose fat permanently without exercise. If anyone ever tries to sell you a program for losing fat without exercise, hold on to your wallet and run for cover.

Even if it was possible to get lean without exercise, you should be working out for your health anyway, not just for cosmetic reasons.

Fat Loss Lie #10: You can lose 30 pounds of fat in 30 days.

******LOSE 10 POUNDS THIS WEEKEND!!!*******

You see ads like these all the time, and they sure are enticing, aren’t they? But is it really possible? Can you really lose weight that quickly?

The answer is YES. It’s quite possible to lose 30 pounds in 30 days or 10 pounds over the weekend.But that’s the wrong question; the question YOU should ask is how can I lose 30 pounds of FAT healthfully and permanently?

Don’t confuse WEIGHT loss with FAT loss!

Your body is 70% water, so it’s easy to lose weight quickly. Any diet that dehydrates you will create quick, dramatic weight loss. Wanna lose 10 pounds over the weekend? THAT’S EASY! Just stop drinking water! Of course that would be pretty stupid and pretty dangerous too, but that’s exactly what you’re doing when you lose weight that fast – you’re simply dehydrating yourself. (or even worse – you’re losing muscle too!)

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the largest and most respected health, medical and exercise organization in the world, has established guidelines for healthy weight loss. In their position statement on “Proper and improper weight loss programs” they recommend losing weight at a rate of no more than two pounds per week.

This two pounds per week guideline has become recognized as the standard rate for safe weight loss. Time after time I see people get impatient and they attempt to violate this rule, only to lose muscle, slow their metabolisms and eventually gain all the fat back…and then some! Weight loss is not something to be rushed – this is not a race.

You can lose 30 pounds of weight in 30 days, but you’ll NEVER lose 30 pounds of fat in 30 days.

There are virtually no limits to what you can achieve in the long run. You can reach any fat loss or fitness goals you are truly committed to. But there are limits to how quickly you can safely achieve them.

Thoreau said, “In the long run, you hit only what you aim at, so aim high.” Don’t be afraid to set big, audacious goals, but always set realistic time frames for achieving them. If you lose one to two pounds of fat per week consistently, you’re doing GREAT!

Well, that’s it – those are the 10 biggest fat loss lies. I hope you’ve found this information to be illuminating.

Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle
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Tom Venuto is a lifetime natural bodybuilder, personal trainer, gym owner, freelance writer and author of Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle (BFFM): Fat Burning Secrets of the World’s Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models. Tom has written over 140 articles and has been featured in IRONMAN magazine, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development, Muscle-Zine, Exercise for Men and Men’s Exercise. Tom is the Fat Loss Expert for and the nutrition editor for and his articles are featured regularly on literally dozens of other websites.