Fat Burning Myth-Busters: Beth Oliver

Fitness expert, Beth Oliver, has been leading group fitness classes, training fitness instructors and leading fitness workshops all over the world for almost 30 years.  She joined us today to dispell some common myths about our a body's ability to burn fat.

Today she started something new with Helen and Dave and any viewer who'd like to join in:  A Health and Fitness Strategy for the month of April .  The strategies are simple things you can do to improve your fitness level and overall health.


  • Eat Five Servings of Friuts and Vegetables Everyday
  • Add either Five Minutes or Five Blocks to your Cardio (If you walk outside, add five more blocks to your normal route)
  • Add Five Repititions to your weight-training (If you currently do 10 bicep curls, for the month of April, do 15!)


Beth Oliver’s Fat Burning Myth-Busters

Myth #1: If I just work my (insert body part here) enough, I will lose the fat in that spot.

  • Sorry folks, but there is no such thing as spot reducing. If you lose weight, you will lose it from all over your body; you cannot lose it in just one location, even if you use exercises or machines intended to target that spot.
  • So, what can you do? Go ahead and diet and work out. Losing weight across the board will help those problem areas. In addition, it does not hurt to exercise your problem spots as part of your whole body exercise routine. Tone muscles make you look leaner, regardless of whether you lose the fat. Combined with overall fat loss, toned muscles will help you look fit and firm.

Myth #2: Weight training will make me bulky so I shouldn't do it.

  • Weight training is actually one of the best things you can do for your body if you are trying to lose fat. Basic weight training does not make muscles bulky. Instead, weight training makes muscles more tone and fit. In turn, these fit muscles help you to burn more fat. In addition, toned muscles look much better than fat and take up less space. So, by adding muscle and losing fat, you will be able to wear a smaller size.
  • You can actually see the difference when you look at a 5-pound slab of fat versus a 5-pound mass of muscle. (Beth brought them as visuals.)

Myth #3: I've heard that after 20 minutes of exercise your body starts to burn fat instead of carbs. So does that mean I should do lower intensity workouts so that I can do them longer and  burn more fat?

  • On the myth of the fat burning zone --- Your body is always burning both carbs and fat, and the ratio does change.  But there is no magic marker when that happens. To really find that out, you'd need to get into an exercise physiology lab and monitor gases…not what the average person wants to do!  At the end of the day, it's calories in and calories out. You need to spend an excess of 3500 calories in order to lose 1 pound. And higher intensity exercise burns more calories. So the concept of the fat burning zone is a bit over-rated. I'd say that the logical thing to do is to burn as much as you can in the shortest time possible.
  • To give you an idea of how the calories-in-calories-out idea works imagine that you consume 150 calories a day more than you expend. After a month you would have gained a pound. No big deal! Bit after a year, you would have gained 12 pounds, and that's how it starts to creep up on us.
  • So the key is consistency. Eat a healthy and nutritious diet and to keep as active as possible.


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