Dr Nick Fuller busts four weight loss myths

Dr Nick Fuller
Leading Obesity Expert at the University of Sydney and founder of Interval Weight Loss.

SINCE the 1980s, obesity rates have skyrocketed - largely due to our collective inactivity.

Up to 70% of Australians fail to meet the recommended guidelines for exercise - a measly 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity for 5 days of the week. Each year we set our New Year’s resolutions, with the goal to kick the extra kilos. We incorporate our new exercise routine, only to get disheartened when we don’t see any change on the scales. 

In order to achieve your weight-loss goals, here are four common workout myths that you should stop believing:

1. Exercise doesn’t help with weight loss.

The overwhelming majority of us - a massive 70% - are not meeting the recommended activity level. When we add in some exercise to our routine, this only puts us at the actual recommended level for general ‘heart health’ guidelines - nowhere near the amount required to actually lose weight. 

On a health kick, people often take up virtuous activities they don't actually enjoy, like killing themselves on the rower or running. In frustration, people quit - having wasted money, let themselves down, and wasted time. People return to their old ways because exercising when you hate it is torture. Unfortunately, your weight is unlikely to change unless you were already meeting the daily requirements to keep you healthy.

Tip: Next time you start out on an activity routine, take up something you enjoy - no matter what it is. Just don’t do the same exercise or work at the same intensity every day. And don’t be disheartened if you don’t see the weight changing when you start your exercise routine – it will go down if you do enough, and if you mix up the type of exercise you are doing.

2. Fasting in the morning before exercise will increase how much fat you burn.

This is absolute nonsense. You are not going to burn more of your fat because you are fasting. You will burn exactly the same amount of calories – and the number of calories will depend on the type of exercise, not the food or lack of food you may have had beforehand. So this means that you are no better off exercising in the morning compared to the evening.

Tip: Exercise when it suits you!

3. Doing a lot of crunches or sit-ups will help you lose your tummy.

Brutal truth - there is no such thing as spot-target fat reduction. You will only lose weight off your stomach if you are burning more energy than you are putting into it, and hence you will lose weight off your entire body. Unfortunately for men, the stomach can be the most stubborn area to see a difference, while women tend to retain weight on their hips. Crunches or sit-ups will help muscle tone but only if you are doing enough exercise and burning sufficient calories to burn the fat off.

Tip: Incorporate a range of different exercises and focus on the amount of exercise and intensity of the exercise rather than one particular muscle group.

4. Weight training will make you bulky.

Weight training is not going to stack on the muscles, but will offer variety to your exercise routine - important for not only losing weight but also maintaining the weight loss. Muscle burns more energy than fat and therefore the more muscle to fat you have in your body, the more energy you will burn at rest. 

Tip: Incorporate a body weight exercise circuit in your home or the local park, or find a gym that you feel comfortable going to. Mix up your routine and incorporate new exercises into your circuit every few weeks.

About Dr Nick Fuller

Dr Nick Fuller is the founder of Interval Weight Loss and is a leading obesity expert at the University of Sydney with a Ph.D. in Obesity Treatment. Dr Fuller is also the author of three best-selling books and his work been published in top ranked journals in the medical field, including JAMA, Lancet and American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.