The 10 Lies of Fat Loss

Some of the most common beliefs might be holding you back!

Jamie Staley, CPT, Pn1

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on

There’s a lot of information about fat loss out there. Some of it’s correct and most of it is totally false.

But how can you tell if something is true or not?

Chances are if you are looking up information on how to lose fat, you are likely frustrated with trying thing after thing after thing and feeling like nothing is working and you will be this way forever.

Let’s talk for a few minutes and set some things straight so you can move forward with confidence!

Lie #1: Fat loss is quick.

When I am at the checkout line in the grocery store, I need to keep my eyes straight ahead because if I see one more magazine with headlines like “Soup off 16 pounds every week!” or “Automatic Weight Loss!” or “Diet Just 5 days to Drop 25 pounds!”, I am going to scream.

These are ACTUAL headlines by the way. I am not making these up.

The Truth: fat loss takes time. A sustainable amount of fat loss is one to two pounds per week. PER WEEK.

Lie #2: Fat loss is easy.

This is a cousin of lie #1, but different in her own right. Fat loss is not simple. Pounds do not melt away. If they did, we would not have an obesity crisis in this country.

You know the saying “if it were easy, everyone would do it”? That applies here.

The Truth: fat loss is possible, but it is not easy. It requires effort.

Lie #3: Fat loss progress is linear.

In the beginning of a fat loss phase, most people are super motivated because they will drop a few pounds relatively easily. This is due to many things, but mainly a drop in carbs (which means a drop in water weight), dropping calories severely, or a combination of both.

Once weight loss (which does not equal fat loss) evens out to a normal speed, people freak out. Or if they don’t lose any weight one week or even gain a pound or two.

The Truth: you will not lose weight every week and some weeks you might even gain slightly. This is normal. Keep going.

Lie #4: Certain foods burn fat.

Food does not burn fat. Celery juice does not have magical powers that decreases your body fat percentage.

Some foods have a higher nutrient density and some have lower calories, but they do not burn fat.

The Truth: fat loss occurs in a calorie deficit which is best achieved with decreased calories and increased movement.

Lie #5: Body fat percentage is the only measure of health.

The BMI chart is a favorite of some people across all spectrums of healthcare, but it is not the only measure of health.

I am not advocating for an unhealthy BMI, because that can certainly exist.

BMI does not take many things into account including: gender, age, activity level, lean body mass, etc.

The Truth: body fat percentage is ONE marker of health. It is not the only marker of health. Becoming overly fixated on it can cause you to neglect other things.

Lie #6: Fat loss will happen with exercise only and no changes to eating habits.

If you want to lose fat, you will have to address nutrition at some point. So many beginners come to me as a trainer and want me to magically make them 20 pounds lighter with two, 60-minute workouts per week.

It is very difficult to put yourself in a calorie deficit with exercise alone. Most people believe they can lose weight with just exercise because they believe when their Apple Watch tells them they just burned 700 calories in a workout.

Calorie expenditure within tracking devices is not accurate. The saying “you can’t outwork a bad diet” is completely true.

If you know you need to improve exercise and nutrition, it is perfectly fine to focus on one first and then add the other one. And you may even notice a slight change at first with exercise alone, but it will not last long term.

The Truth: fat loss requires attention to nutrition. Exercise alone will not do the trick (in most circumstances).

Lie #7: Starting and stopping random fat loss protocols isn’t harmful.

Most people attempt a few different fat loss methods before finding one that works for them or giving up all together.

While this can seem harmless, there is a danger in hopping from “the next new thing” to the next and each time ending in failure. It’s mostly psychological.

When I work with a client that has tried multiple ways to lose fat, they are extremely defeated and think their body is broken and they can’t lose fat. Which is totally understandable, but it can make people resort to drastic measures because that’s what they think they need. They will start blaming things like their genetics, metabolism, thyroid, or hormones when those things MAY be absolutely fine.

The Truth: try a fat-loss protocol that is gradual and that you can do long-term with a high level of consistency. Think it through to the end before you even start.

Lie #8: Fat loss will solve all of your body image issues.

Most people believe that once they lose fat and finally get to their “goal weight,” life will be nothing but rainbows and butterflies.

This is not true.

Fat loss can and will solve many problems. MANY. However, if done incorrectly, it can also cause many problems.

If there are things you don’t like about yourself and you constantly engage in negative self-talk about your body, hitting a goal weight probably won’t change your internal dialogue.

The Truth: dealing with body image issues is often a separate endeavor than fat loss and can even increase these issues in some cases.

Lie #9: Making a mistake when trying to lose fat means you have failed and should give up.

“Well I was tracking calories, but then I went out of town for the weekend so I messed up.”

“I was doing really good with my food portions until I got a head cold and didn’t track for a week so I stopped.”

“I was doing so well with not eating out at restaurants until my parents came into town and so I screwed up.”

Here’s the thing. If you are using a fat-loss protocol that is sustainable for the long-term, you will not be perfect all the time. Life will still happen and you will get sick, go on vacation, experience the death of loved ones, move homes, change jobs, and deal with a thousand other small interruptions that will throw you for a loop.

When it makes sense, start again.

The timeframe will vary. Coming back from a head cold versus the death of a loved one will be different. Give yourself grace for the big things, but kick yourself in the pants for the small things and get moving again.

The Truth: you are never a failure, but this only stops working when you do.

Lie #10: Fat loss isn’t worth it.

I’m going to get some push back for this one. I can feel it already.

Please keep in mind that I understand what it is like to be obese, completely sedentary, de-conditioned, confused, frustrated, and limited in your own body.

Fat loss is not just looking a different way or seeing a different number on the scale.

Being at a healthy body weight (not skinny or “shredded”) impacts your health on a thousand different levels and it is worth it every single day of the week.

Yes, there are sacrifices and hard days, but feeling confident, able, strong, and healthy in your body is a feeling that absolutely cannot be beat.

The Truth: a healthy bodyweight looks different on each person, but achieving that is worth it.

Are you struggling to find a sustainable way to lose body fat that works? Let me help!

If tackling changes to your exercise regime or nutrition on your own feels too intimidating and confusing, I can help!

I am a Certified Personal Trainer and a Certified Nutrition Coach! I have experience with a wide array of clients and would love to help you on your journey.

I will coach you through an individualized plan to meet your goals and help you gain strength and confidence, while cutting through the confusion. I’ll give you the accountability, real information, motivation, and guidance to make lasting change.

In-person or online coaching available! Send me an email at and let’s chat about your goals!

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