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Debunked: 8 Products and Activities That DON’T Aid Fat Loss 

Who wouldn't want an "easy, instant" way to lose weight? There are unfortunately countless companies willing to tap into our desire and offer empty promises in the way of bogus products and activities. Our genuine, long-term fat loss, however, relies on optimally nourishing and moving our bodies, not on "tricking" them. The road to effective fat loss can be simple when we base our journeys on the tried-and-true principles of the healthy way of living - principles that run counter to the "miracle" mindset of these 8 bogus weight loss ideas.

Spot Reduction Exercise

Many people focus on exercises for their specific “trouble areas” where they store fat – a concept called spot reduction that inevitably ends with disappointment. I teach clients that where you store fat can offer revealing clues about what may be happening in your body and why you may be storing fat more readily in general. For example, if you gain weight in the belly or midsection, it could be a result of your body releasing too much insulin in response to a high carbohydrate diet. Instead of focusing on "toning" certain areas of your body, instead focus on full body exercises and root out the “why” behind your fat storage patterns through metabolic or lab testing.

Eating Less to Lose More

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you know that our nutrition philosophy encourages everyone to consume real food as the best source for the ample nutrients that support optimum metabolic functioning. Our philosopy runs contrary to the old messages about eating less to lose weight. Using this "traditional" recommendation, you might end up eating less of the foods that encourage your body to store fat, such as sugar and other high carbohydrate and highly processed foods, because you're striving to eat less overall. However, there's a better way. Instead of focusing on eating less (or starving your body of nutrients), focus on eating ample protein at every meal, ample healthy fats and plenty of non-starchy vegetables as often as possible when you're hungry.

Too Much Cardio Training

Some people still believe "the more cardio, the better" for fat loss because cardiovascular exercise, in general, burns more calories. We often see this idea marketed on infomercials for exercise equipment with big headlines screaming “Burn XXX calories in 10 minutes!”. If your goal is fat loss, strength training is key along with smart, heart rate focused, cardio training. Instead of doing hours of pure cardio each day, focus on moving your body all day and occasionally picking up heavy things. When you do structure cardio exercise, make sure you know at which intensities you burn fat most efficiently. You can learn this by completing an active metabolic assessment.

Gluten-Free Diet

While eliminating gluten can reduce inflammation in the body, which can lead to weight loss, there are still many gluten-free foods that will hinder your weight loss program. Going gluten-free has become popular recently; however, most people will simply switch out their cookies, breads and noodles for the gluten-free counterparts. If you're trying to lose fat, eliminate processed starches as much as possible – whether gluten-free or not. Follow a naturally gluten-free diet of non-starchy vegetables, high quality proteins and healthy fats as much as possible.

Weight Loss Supplements

Every week there seems to be some new single ingredient supplement touting the power of “take this to lose weight.” Although certain core supplements should be the foundation of everyone’s plan to promote optimal metabolism, most of the highly marketed weight loss supplements out there won’t promote long term fat loss or even help support your metabolism. Instead, focus on building a foundation of core supplements that feed your metabolism and provide you with the nutrients lacking in your diet, such as a high quality multivitamin, Omega 3’s, protein and vitamin D. Likewise, diversify your diet to maximize food-based nutrition.

Eating 6 Small Meals a Day

Many health and fitness professionals recommend this method with the idea that the more frequently you eat, the more energy your body has to give off to burn the nutrients (thermic effect of food), thus increasing your metabolic rate and supporting weight loss. While the concept is well known, research has never proven the frequent eating method to be more effective than eating larger, less frequent meals each day. Instead, focus on foods that provide ample nutrition and satiety, drink plenty of water, and decide how many meals fit your lifestyle and hunger level. For some, eating 3 meals per day is plenty, while others do better with snacks in between those meals as well. Smaller, frequent meals do give the opportunity for more variety in the diet, but I don’t recommend it for people struggling with meal planning or even overeating in general. Discuss your needs and questions around meal frequency with a dietitian, who can help you make choices based on your individual situation and relevant lab testing. 

Weight Loss "Fashion"

Sweat suits, belly bands, etc. There are a multitude of clothing and accessories marketed to help you sweat more while working out, allegedly leading to more fat loss (they say). Although these items will make you sweat more, most often they simply encourage fluid loss rather than fat loss. Don’t waste your money on these items. Instead, focus on exercise and dry sauna sessions for sweating to detoxify versus for accelerating “weight” loss.

High Intensity Workouts

Many infomercial weight loss methods glorify some sort of high intensity workout program. The problem with most of these is they are not sustainable for most individuals and can lead to injury and overtraining. These "latest and greatest" types of programs also create the idea that we just need to work out harder in order to lose fat. If you enjoy a higher intensity workout, make sure you compliment these with recovery based workouts and appropriate strength training. Harder does not mean better for fat loss.

Thanks for reading, everyone. What bogus tools and approaches have you tried that didn't live up to their hype? 

Written by Anika Christ, Senior Program Manager of Life Time Weight Loss

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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