6 Myths About Body Fat

Posted October 25, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 4 min read

What's one of the things about body fat that most people believe is true? How about this one: Muscle burns more calories than fat. While yes, our skeletal muscle does burn more calories every day than our body fat does, it's not as notable as you may think. It's really a surprisingly negligible difference when you're talking about how many calories are consumed for energy while you're just sitting around.

Myth 1: Eating Fat Makes You Fat


  • While it’s true that some fats are worse for us than others we’re looking at you, LDL cholesterol-raising, man-made trans fats it’s not true that eating dietary fat makes us fat.

  • Calories are what make us fat.

  • You gain weight when you eat more calories than you burn, whether those calories come from fat, carbohydrates or protein.

  • Regardless of whether a fat is saturated or unsaturated, healthy or unhealthy, all dietary fats contain about the same amount of calories.

  • Fats give you the most energy when you eat them because they’re more calorically dense than protein and carbohydrates, ounce per ounce.

  • While there are about 112 calories in one ounce of protein or carbohydrates, one ounce of fat contains about 252 calories

Myth 2: Turn Fat Into Muscle, Muscle Into Fat


  • You’ve probably heard that if you don’t exercise or work out, your muscle will turn to fat.

  • If that was a concern, stop worrying about it; it’s not possible.

  • Nor can fat turn into muscle.

  • Fat and muscle are different types of body tissues fat is adipose tissue, and muscle is protein and you can’t change one type of tissue into another.

  • While it may appear that you’re turning fat into muscle or muscle into fat when you get slack or get serious about exercise, that appearance is only because fat is less dense than muscle, which means an ounce of fat takes up more space inside the body than an ounce of muscle does

Myth 3: Fat Cells Only Store Fat


  • Body fat has two primary functions.

  • It will come as little surprise that our fat cells store lipids for future energy needs, but did you know that body fat, which is adipose tissue, is considered an endocrine organ?

  • Fat cells are biologically active, and they produce hormones such as leptin, which influences our appetite, and adiponectin, which controls how well the body regulates glucose and breaks down fats.

  • There’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg scenario when it comes to our body fat, though, as we know that an excess or lack of certain hormones can cause us to gain or lose weight, but our weight also directly affects the amounts of these hormones in the body.

  • If the wrong messages are sent throughout the body, there’s a risk of insulin resistance, elevated levels of lipids in our blood (hyperlipidemia) and vascular inflammation.

Myth 4: As You Age, Fat Gain Is Inevitable


  • Age-related weight gain is typically centered around our mid-section, it’s abdominal fat (called visceral fat), and it begins to settle in around the time you turn 40.

  • It’s true that as people age, metabolism slows down and the amount of fat in the body increases, but gaining weight because of those changes isn’t inevitable.

  • You do need to kick things up a notch to stave it off, though.

  • Aside from a sensible diet, adding weight training to a cardio-centric exercise routine will help combat age-related loss of muscle mass, called sarcopenia.

  • Combining weight training with cardiovascular exercise also increases bone density, balance and flexibility.

  • And weight training has been found to be better at burning stubborn abdominal fat than aerobic exercise, especially as you age.

  • Plus, the more muscle mass you maintain as the years go by, the lower your chances of dying prematurely

Myth 5: Spot Reducing Can Happen


  • Unlike building muscle by targeting different muscle groups, such as abs or glutes, when you lose fat you lose it systemically that means you lose it all over, not just in one place.

  • Crunches may tighten the abdominal muscles, but those crunches won’t specifically reduce your abdominal fat.

  • Fat cells store triglycerides.

  • But when your body calls upon its energy reserves to be used as fuel, those triglycerides need to be converted into a fuel that your muscles are able to use glycerol and fatty acids and those can enter the bloodstream from anywhere fat is stored in the body, mid-section or otherwise

Myth 6: Cardio Is the Only Way to Lose Fat


  • Doing cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise such as walking, biking or everyone’s favorite the Stairmaster is good for you.

  • It reduces heart disease risk by keeping the heart and lungs in shape, helps meet weight loss goals and keeps your whole body healthier.

  • But if your focus is to burn the most fat, it’s not actually the best choice.

  • You may think of weight training (also called strength or resistance training) as the way to build muscle mass, which it is, but weight-bearing exercises have also been found to be better at burning abdominal fat than cardio exercise alone.

  • Two 15- to 20-minute resistance training sessions every week have positive effects on everything from your resting metabolic rate to your blood pressure and how well your body handles insulin and it’s been found to be better at keeping the waistline from expanding than cardio alone.

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