Weight Loss Myths
Avoid Disappointment - Learn the Facts
Weight loss myths have been floating around for a long, long time. It seems every week a new miracle diet is touted as revolutionary and amazing and before long a new myth can be added to an ever-increasing list.
Following are some of the more common 'myths' which are still passed on to those trying to lose weight.
- The less you eat, the more you lose. This myth appears to be losing ground a little as people become more aware and more educated in what constitutes a healthy diet. In a bid to limit consumption, some people skip whole meals or maybe go on a detox program involving a drastic reduction in energy intake. All this does is fool the body into thinking it is being subjected to a starvation diet. So it begins to conserve energy. The body is superbly built for this purpose. Metabolism will slow right down to ensure the vital processes can continue operating.
While you may lose some weight, most of it will be water. Next muscle tone suffers as the body clings to its fat reserves. Once you start to eat again, as you inevitably will, the body rapidly rebuilds its fat reserves at the expense of muscle. Muscle burns more energy than fat so metabolism slows and there is weight gain. So, while it's fine to reduce the amount of kilojoules you consume in a day, stay away from fad diets that are drastic in nature. And don't skip meals.
- Some foods require more energy to digest than they supply. This is simply not true. Foods vary in the amount of energy required in their digestion and absorption but none take more energy to consume than they supply and differences are minimal. There are no magic potions, foods or drinks that cause metabolic changes resulting in weight loss. In a similar vein, there are no foods that stop fat from being absorbed. Sometimes lemon juice and/or grapefruit are touted as being marvellous foods that will inhibit the absorption of fat.
- Carbohydrates are fattening and fat is bad. Carbohydrates are the body's preferred source of energy and the only source for the brain. Too many may cause weight gain and highly refined carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour should be replaced with fruit, vegetables and wholegrain cereals. Low GI foods are good providing they aren't high in fat and/or sugar. Sometimes articles appear on not combining protein and carbohydrates but there is absolutely no basis for such beliefs.
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As far as fat goes, too much will result in weight gain. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are better for you than saturated and trans fats. Essential fatty acids found in nuts, seeds and fish are a necessary part of the diet because the body can't produce them. Choosing low- or reduced fat foods is not always helpful. To counteract the blandness often associated wth low-fat foods, the sugar element may be increased. Always read the nutrition labels to assess exactly what nutrients are present. Low-fat unsweetened dairy products are often good choices as they usually contain good amounts of protein and calcium with less saturated fats and thus fewer kilojoules. So try to cut down on saturated and trans fats but include small amounts of good fats.
- Another myth is that aerobic exercise is better than resistance training for weight loss. If you want to burn energy but maintain your muscle tone, a combination of both is best. Aerobic exercise increases the body's ability to oxygen efficiently while resistance training results in greater muscle mass . A combination of both is best.
- Eating a big meal at night is not a good idea if you're trying to lose weight. Similar myths include 'don't eat carbohydrates after 3pm' and 'don't eat at all after 6pm'. While these sound like great ideas, there is no evidence to suggest these are anything but myths. However, what you eat and when may have a bearing on the kilojoule intake. Sitting in from of TV eating snack foods can result in the ingestion of many kilojoules. Skipping breakfast may result in eating high-sugar or high-fat snacks mid morning. Meals and snacks later in the day tend to contain more fat than other meals. Weight gain is related to the ingestion of excessive kilojoules not to the time of day.
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- Eating more but smaller meals is preferable to eating three large meals. There is no evidence to support such a statement. If you consume more energy than you expend you will gain weight. It is as simple as that. Eat non-stop all day if you wish to but don't consume more than you can expend during your normal activities.
- Cut out all treats. In generally, doing this will result in 'break-outs' or 'binge eating' when going without all your little treats will become too much to continue. Cut down on all the treats you can but have a small amount of your favourites from time to time. Eat it slowly and with concentration so that you actually gain as much pleasure as possible from the experience.
- If you eat healthy foods and nothing else, you'll lose weight. This is obviously a myth as if you eat more kilojoules than you burn during a day, you will gain weight.
- You don't have to cut down on food - just take more exercise. This doesn't work. To burn even 2500kJ a day, you'd need to walk 7 to 9km at a brisk pace or jog 6 to 8km. This is difficult for most people. The best way to lose weight is to restrict the intake of kilojoules and increase activity. Thus you maintain muscle tone and burn energy.
Don't be taken in by dieting plans which promise quick weight loss. Remeber the old adage. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!