Weight loss advice is so common (and contentious) now. I always thought when I started training in this field that it would be black and white – do this, don’t do that…. unfortunately, that isn’t the case. There are competing opinions everywhere. Should you eat fat? Should you eat meat and diary? How do you really lose weight – eat less, exercise more, cut certain food groups and so on…. it’s a minefield.
I say, forget about “who’s right” and let’s focus on “what’s right.” Because what actually gets results is what I’m focusing on in this post.
I respect you too much to make empty promises and try to sell you on something that doesn’t work. I’m fed up of seeing weight loss and health professionals do that as I see the end result with unhappy, overweight women who just don’t know where to turn and want to give up!
There are too many weight loss myths out there. I’m going to tackle the top ones I come across in my practice.
Myth: Calories cause weight gain and fewer calories are the path to weight loss
Calories are important for weight loss. If you eat and absorb loads more than you use, then your body will certainly store some for energy later. Calories matter.
But, they are not the “be-all and end-all” of weight loss; they’re important, but they’re the symptom, not the cause. Let’s think about the reasons people eat more calories. Let’s focus on the causes.
People eat too many calories, not because they’re hungry, but for many other reasons and that tends to be more so in Women. If you think of your children as babies they had this innate ability to tell you when they were hungry and to stop when they were full. People have over-ridden this ability as adults and no longer listen to what their bodies need. If they did they wouldn’t eat too many calories and would just consume what they need.
Instead they eat because they are sad, lonely, or bored. Or maybe because they’re tired or stressed. Or maybe even because they’re happy and celebrating. And all these feelings interact with our gastrointestinal, nervous and hormonal systems; all of which influence our calorie intake. That’s when we end up putting on weight from eating too many calories.
Myth: “Eat less move more” is good advice
People have been giving this piece of advice for years – eat less and move more. Clearly this doesn’t work or the problem would have been solved easily decades ago!!
The premise of this is based on the above myth that calories in minus calories out equals your weight. So in theory if you eat fewer calories and burn off more calories it should be a simple equation…..
Even if people can happily and sustainably follow this advice (which they can’t!), it completely negates other factors that contribute to weight problems. We are not all the same! They think about 70% of our weight is influenced by genetic factors plus of course have have the emotional factors I alreadyt mentioned. Our genetics effect how our body reacts to everything around us so everyone will be completely different and what works for one won’t work for another – if only it was that easy!!
Myth: A calorie is a calorie
It’s about time we really got to the bottom of this one.
Science has confirmed several caloric components of food differ from others. For example, the “thermic effect of food” (TEF) is that some nutrients require calories to be metabolised. They can slightly increase your metabolism, just by eating them.
For example, when you metabolise protein you burn more calories than when you metabolise carbohydrates. Proteins and carbohydrates both have 4 calories/gram; but, the TEF of protein = 15–30%; and the TEF for carbohydrates = 5–10%.
Here’s another example of a calorie not being a calorie. Different fats are metabolised differently. Medium chain triglycerides (fats) (MCTs) have the same 9 calories/gram that other fats do; but, they’re metabolised by the liver before getting into the bloodstream and therefore aren’t utilized or stored the same way as other fats. The best example of this is coconut oil.
Myth: Fats Make You Fat
This is one of the most hotly debated topics in the health world and I could write about this all day long but the basis for which this claim was made several decades ago have since been proven to be highly biased. A study was done across something like 22 countries to look at heart disease and it’s links to eating fat but they only ever used the 7 countries that gave favourable results for the published data!!
Now this doesn’t mean everyone can just go wild on burgers and deep fried mars bars, trans ftas or hydrogenated fats are still VERY bad for your health. But there are ‘good’ fats too and these have a crucial role in heping our bodies run smoothly including our brains which are made of 60% fat.
Aim to have 1-3 tbps of healthy fats in every meal and include foods such as nuts and seeds, avocado, olive oil and oily fish. This is especially important if you are following a low carb diet as the fats help keep you fuller for longer.
Myth: Buy this supplement/tea/food/magic potion to lose weight
There is no magic pill for weight loss. No supplement, tea, food, or other potion will do the trick.
There are products that make these claims, and they’re just rubbish (or shall I say “marketing gold?”). The only thing you will lose is your money (and possibly your hope). So, please don’t believe this myth. There is a reason most people who lose weight can’t keep it off. The real magic is in adopting a sustainable holistic and healthy approach to living your life. What you need is a long-term lifestyle makeover, not a product.
Weight loss is hard! There are too many people out there trying to make it sound like they have the simple solution (or the latest and greatest!).
Don’t fall for the myths that say:
- Calories alone cause weight gain and fewer calories are the path to weight loss.
- “Eat less move more” is the only way.
- A calorie is a calorie.
- Eating fat makes you fat.
- Buy this supplement/tea/food/magic potion to lose weight.