Have you ever Googled the words “how to lose weight”? Try it. You’ll get 120 million results with a 90% chance of BS.
The nutrition and fitness industries are booming ones, which is why it’s so easy to find false information related to staying fit and healthy.
Hopefully this article will help debunk some of those fables. Scroll down to read some of the common myths about weight-loss. You’ll be on your way to getting beach-bod ready.
1. Fat is the ultimate enemy
“Fat will make you fat”. This one is my favorite.
I mean, fine. It makes sense that, because adipose tissue is stored fat, consuming fat will lead to more fat storage. Potaytoe, potahtoe.
Here is the problem: there is nothing wrong with fat itself, it’s just that most calorie-dense food is high in fat. It’s also challenging because fat has a higher calorie-to-gram ratio (9:1) than compared to carbs and protein (4:1 each). However, you can consume a diet high in good fat (olive oil, coconut, avocado, nuts, etc.); as long as your energy expenditure is larger than your energy intake – mathematically – weight-loss is in your favor.
2. If fat is Bonnie, then carb is Clyde
In conjunction with the previous myth, there’s a common misconception that a high-carb diet is one to be frowned upon. I bet you can guess where I’m going with this..
Eat all the carbs you desire! Just kidding, don’t do that. At least not if your intention is be washer-board ab ready.
Ok, sure, low-carb diets have been proven to aid in weight-loss (feast your mind here and here and here). However, it’s the type of carbs that make all the difference. Replacing refined carbohydrates (like sodas and processed grains) with whole-grains, oats, and starchy veggies can make the biggest difference in the size of your waistline.
3. Time to go gluten-free
“Is this by choice or necessity?” You’ve probably heard this question arise at your local pizza joint, typically in response to a gluten-free crust request.
It’s been a recent weight-loss trend over the past few years to eliminate gluten from one’s diet. Here’s the shocker: the weight that people claim to lose from becoming gluten-free is most likely attributed to cutting out excess calories from pasta, bagels, beer and other refined carbs (see myth above). This trend has definitely given rise in awareness to diseases such as celiac (in which sufferers are ACTUALLY allergic to gluten – go figure). But ironically, even some celiac sufferers gain weight after going gluten-free since their bodies are finally able to absorb more calories.
But if you’re going gluten-free, even aside from “weight-loss” reasons, you may want to reconsider. A recent study showed that eating more grains is not only beneficial to disease prevention, but can literally add more years to your life.
Looks like BRAN is your new four-letter friend.
4. Track those macros
This one is not so much a myth, but more an abused strategy. Though it’s not required for ultimate shreds, tracking macros is extremely helpful in setting goals and being more mindful of what you’re consuming. It has also been shown to help with weight-loss.
So what’s the fuss? For starters, tracking macros is a relative process. For some folks, it may be an excuse to eat nutrient-poor foods with the bragging rights of consuming six double-doubles. Hashtag IIFYM.
If you are interested in learning more about tracking macros, the USDA Body Weight Planner is a good place to start. It gives you an idea of how many calories you need to consume based on your current age, body weight, and activity level, in order to maintain, gain, or lose body weight.
5. Supplements are a must
We are bombarded with so many supplement ads, how do you know which one(s) to take?
Well, sadly, they all probably suck. Consumers who buy these supplements are typically already health conscious to an extent, or on their way to being more conscious of what they consume. This explains the placebo effect associated with supplement intake. Most of the supplements you see that claim drastic weight-loss effects are actually not very effective when studied (such as here, here, and here).
In studies focusing on supplement intake, the most effective (and least health-risky) ones in helping with MODEST weight-loss are naturally occurring, such as green tree extract and some caffeine sources. Keep in mind, this may only be a pound or two per month.
Rule of thumb: There is no magic pill. If the product claims it will drastically help you lose weight, then the only weight-loss you’ll experience is from your wallet.
6. Just eat less and exercise more
Body fat is basically stored energy, aka those things we call “calories”. If you consume less than you expend, fat-loss occurs. This is factual. We can all agree here, right?
Due to this, it makes sense that “eating less and exercising more” is simple logic to go by since it targets both sides of the equation. Well, not necessarily.
For people who are constantly struggling to lose weight, starvation through underconsumption and strenuous training is the worst piece of advice to go by. Losing body fat, or more specifically changing your body composition, is a product of physiological, behavioral, and environmental factors. This gets more complicated if one suffers from biological issues such as hypothyroidism or sleep apnea.
The best way to reduce chances of weight regain is to implement long-term interventions that target all three factors. Sure, cutting out the dozen of Krispy Kreme donuts every week will help shed some pounds, but getting enough sleep, surrounding yourself with like-minded people, and meditating are just as necessary.