Womp, womp. Contrary to what you’ve seen on the interwebs, you can’t focus your fat-loss efforts on certain areas of your bod. When we lose fat, we lose it all over, says Holly F. Lofton, M.D., director of the medical weight management program at New York University Langone Medical Center. So all of that time you spend doing butt clenches and crunches? These little bitty isolation moves won’t target the fat in your booty and abs, and they don’t burn much fat in general, either.A better way to torch fat is to perform big, compound moves like squats, lunges, and bench presses. By tapping way more muscle fibers, these exercises burn calories in and out of the gym (thanks to the after-burn effect). And by increasing your body’s lean muscle, they crank up your metabolism for 24/7 fat burning.
2. You Can Eat All of the Healthy Fat You Want
There’s no mistaking the weight-loss bennies of omega-3s (found in foods like salmon, walnuts, and olive oil), but don’t assume that you can’t overdo it, says Lofton. We’re looking at you, nut butter lovers!
Remember, a gram of fat—no matter how good for you it is—contains nine calories. That means that a two-tablespoon serving of almond butterpacks about 200 calories, while that avocado has about 320. Don’t get us wrong; these are totally healthy foods that should be a part of your weight-loss plan. But measuring out your portions will help you stay on track with your weight-loss goals.
3. Exercising in the “Fat-Burning Zone” Burns the Most Fat
By lowering your workout intensity to stay in the fat-burning zone, as indicated by most cardio machines, you’re kinda just wasting your time, says Michael W. Smith, M.D., medical director and chief medical editor for WebMD. “When you exercise with less intensity, you burn a higher proportion of calories from fat than carbs,” he says, “However, you’re still only burning three to five calories a minute,” he says. By working a little harder, you start to burn more calories from carbs than fat, but you’re also burning 10 to 12 calories a minute or more. “That means you’re still burning more fat than you would by working out in the fat-burning zone,” says Smith.
Lofton recommends working out hard enough that you can’t easily carry on a conversation. While you shouldn’t ever feel like you’re going to keel over, it’s important to get your heart rate up and get your body working, she says.
4. Reduced-Fat Foods Are Better for Weight Loss
The vast majority of low-fat and non-fat processed foods actually contain more sugar and carbs than their full-fat counterparts, says Lofton. “When food manufacturers take out one macronutrient, they have to replace it with something else in order to make the food’s taste and texture more appealing,” she says. And typically, that means insulin-spiking, quick-to-digest sugar.
That might be one reason why people who eat low-fat foods wind up eating about 28 percent more calories than people who opt for the real, full-fat deal, according to research from the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab. The next time you’re at the supermarket debating which ice cream or snack food to buy, take a quick look at the ingredients to see how the full- and no-fat options stack up, says Smith.
5. Eggs Are Full of Bad-for-You Fat
Let’s get two things straight: Eating eggs doesn’t hike up your cholesterol or hurt your heart health. And eggs don’t contain that much saturated fatto begin with, either. In fact, more than half of the fat contained in eggs isunsaturated, says Lofton.
Plus, all fat aside, eggs are the number-one source of bioavailable protein—meaning that your body can absorb and use its protein to slash hunger, build muscle, and burn fat more easily than any other food, she says. Pretty snazzy, right?