In our weight-obsessed society, fat generally gets a bad rap. Yet we all need fat in order for our bodies to function properly. Below are some common misconceptions about fat—and the real truth behind them.

Myth: I should avoid eating fat in order to stay slim.
Fact: Certain types of fat actually are beneficial to your health and, in moderate amounts, may enable you to reach your goal weight. Your aim should be to eat monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, both of which may improve cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of diseases. Focus on foods such as walnuts, avocados, and cold-water fatty fish (such as salmon). Avoid trans and saturated fats such as those found in baked foods and animal products.

Myth: Keeping my heart rate in a specific range will help me burn fat while exercising.
Fact: While it's true that fat accounts for most of your energy expenditure if you're exercising at a lower intensity, your body turns to carbohydrates as its fuel source the harder you work out. Both fat and carbs make up the calories you burn. And since the way to shed pounds is to burn more calories than you take in, amp up your workouts without eating more and you should see the scale go down. Interval training, in which you alternate between high intensity and lower intensity for the duration of your exercise session, is particularly effective at burning off fat.

Myth: I should always choose lowfat or nonfat versions of foods.
Fact: Some lowfat or nonfat food substitutes are loaded with excess sugar or artificial ingredients to compensate for the lack of fat. These foods may be less satisfying than full-fat foods, and you consequently may end up eating more of them. Smart lower-fat food swaps include skim milk and lowfat cheeses as well as lean, trimmed meats.

Myth: If I carry excess fat, I'm automatically less healthy than my slim friends.
Fact: Some people may appear slender but are in fact "skinny fat," a relatively new term coined to describe folks who carry their fat internally. This fat is often clustered around visceral organs, a major health risk. You may weigh significantly more than someone who is skinny fat, but if your extra pounds gather around your hips and thighs and are not hidden away in your abdomen, you may very well be healthier.




IDEA Health & Fitness Association. "Burning Fat: Myths And Facts." Web

Mayo Clinic. "Dietary Fats: Know Which Types to Choose." Web

National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. "Low-Calorie, Lower Fat Alternative Foods." Web

American Council on Exercise. "Are You Skinny Fat?" Web.