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Fitness myths Part 1. Eating FAT makes you FAT

In my line of work, I have the displeasure of personally witnessing countless failed attempts and dashed hopes, largely as a result of misinformation and misplaced trust.

The average person does not have the means (time, energy, interest etc) to gather all the information required to successfully effect a meaningful improvement in their physical appearance or health in general.

There is a great demand for the concise and accurate delivery of this information, through nutrition programs, strength and conditioning regimes, and lifestyle modification guides. This is why the “health and fitness” industry exists, and why it is a multi-billion dollar one.

The issue is that as much as we would all like to believe that the people who are in positions of authority; so-called experts, gurus, and specialists, are only interested in helping us achieve our goals, the reality is not so altruistic.

You are definitely being lied to, and quite frequently.

While there are a lot of people in the industry who have a genuine interest in helping people above all else, they are almost always less famous and less wealthy, which is a shame because both those things limit the amount of people they can reach and help.

There are many reasons that people may mislead, most of them will be trying to push a product or service, but more commonly people simply don’t know and are unintentionally perpetuating myths and fallacies.

So without further ado here are a bunch of things that a lot of people still believe are facts, but are, in-fact, nonsense.

The lie: If you EAT fat, you will GET fat.

I’ll start with this one because it is easily the most common fallacy I encounter, and the most readily perpetuated by the general public. It is a relatively new myth; ‘fat-phobia’ that came into existence around the 1980’s which had many products marketing themselves as ‘low-fat’ or ‘fat free’ as if that were a good thing.

The reason this is so easily accepted, is because for those outside the industry, it just makes sense. If ‘fat’ goes in, it should stand to reason that it might get stuck in there somewhere along its digestive journey and become part of the furniture, right?

Well it doesn’t really work like that but if you never really looked into digestive processes (and why would you) you would have no real reason to disagree. And thusly this conversation takes place all over the world about 10 million times every day:

“Hey do you want to have eggs for breakfast?”

“Oh yes please, but no yolks I’m trying to lose weight”

I have heard this, or variations of this conversation so many times that I now see a therapist.

The Why: It is common to reduce fat intake as a quick way to reduce total calories consumed, however in doing so you will also reduce satiety (feeling of satisfaction after a meal) which can often lead to poor food choices later in the day.

You will also be reducing or completely missing out on other benefits of fats, such as:

- Longer-lasting and steadier release of energy than you get from a high carbohydrate meal.

- Without fats you have no way of absorbing the essential fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

- Maintenance of structures such as skin, brain tissue, cell membranes and nerves

- Formation of sex hormones, and other products vital for wellbeing

- Anti-inflammatory properties of certain fatty acids (Omega 3)

The Truth: All foods are broken down in the digestive tract to their most basic building blocks by various substances secreted by the body; they are then used depending on the needs of the body. Fats, protein and carbs all have a calorie value.

A very simple explanation is that proteins are used primarily to repair various structures in the body, and fats and carbohydrates are primarily used for energy to fuel the functions of the body.

Fat does have a higher calorie value per gram than protein and carbohydrate, (9 vs 4 and 4 respectively) however too many calories will cause the body to store the extra energy as fat, regardless of where it comes from, if you eat nothing but protein but you consume more calories than you expend, you will still store the extra energy as fat.

Bottom line, fat doesn’t make you fat, eating more calories than you burn does.

Until next time

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