There are so many misconceptions when it comes to fat. Can you get rid of it? And does it come back? Is being leaner always better? Or is a little extra padding good for you? We asked Dr. Jennifer Levine, a New York City plastic surgeon, to separate fat from fiction. So without further ado, let's debunk these fat myths.
7 Body Fat Myths That Aren't True
Because they're big fat lies
1. Myth: Eating Fat Makes You Fat
Nope. In fact, everyone is born with a set number of fat cells that expand or shrink as they gain or lose weight. And in fact, eating fat—particularly the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated kind—helps you feel full faster and longer. So eating it in moderation could actually help you lose weight.
2. Myth: Muscle Weighs More Than Fat
A pound is a pound. The difference between fat and muscle is that a single pound of fat takes up more volume than a pound of muscle—which explains why you can look smaller (and your clothes can fit better) even if the number on the scale has stayed the same or gone up.
3. Myth: With Proper Exercise You Can Turn Fat into Muscle
Fat and muscle are two separate things. To get trim, you want to combine cardiovascular exercise (like running or cycling) with weight lifting to burn fat and build muscle, respectively.
4. Myth: Muscle Turns into Fat
The good news is that your hard-earned muscles won’t just turn to flab if you take a break from working out. Instead, if you go too long without using your muscles, they’ll start to atrophy, which also slows down your metabolism. Aim to do at least 30 minutes of strength training twice a week (either using weights or your own body weight with planks and pushups) to keep muscles strong and healthy.
5. Myth: You Can’t Be Fit and Fat
A person can eat well, exercise and have normal blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels and still carry excess body fat. And that person is actually better off than someone who appears to be thin but really carries a high percentage of body fat for their size (aka “skinny fat”). You know what they say about not judging a book by its cover.
6. Myth: You Can Target Specific Areas of Fat
The only way to reduce body fat in any part of your body is to reduce it everywhere throughweight loss. To lose the excess pounds, you need to use more calories than you take in—and the only good way to do that is through a combination of diet and exercise. Groundbreaking, we know.
7. Myth: A Lower Body Fat Percentage Is Better
Not necessarily. Our bodies need a certain amount of fat to function properly (20 to 25 percent for women; 10 to 15 percent for men). Any leaner than that and you risk disrupting your cardiovascular, endocrine and central nervous systems—which is another reason you shouldn’t get so fixated on the numbers.