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Myths About Weight Loss
Do you really know what it takes to lose weight? Can you really believe
what those ads tell you? Are you confused by what all those experts are
telling you? Do you know that 95% of people who go on conventional diets,
gain back all the weight they have lost and often end up fatter than when
they began? Do you really know what is fact and what is hype?
Losing weight safely, healthily and permanently is not as complicated as it
may seem. Once you know what works and what doesn’t and then apply this
knowledge properly, you can, finally, lose that ugly fat.
This article highlights 15 of the most common myths associated with weight
loss. Understanding them, will help clear up the confusion and help you to
decide how best to lose that weight forever.
#1 Fad diets work best for permanent weight loss.
Fad diets (South Beach Diet, Atkins Diet, Glycemic Load Diet etc.) are not
the best way to lose weight and keep it off. Fad diets often promise quick
weight loss or tell you to cut certain foods out of your diet. You may lose
weight at first on one of these diets. But diets that strictly limit
calories or food choices are hard to follow. Most people quickly get tired
of them and regain
any lost weight.
Fad diets may be unhealthy because they may not provide all of the nutrients
your body needs. Also, losing weight at a very rapid rate (more than 3
pounds a week after the first couple weeks) may increase your risk for
developing gallstones (clusters of solid material in the gallbladder that
can be painful). Diets that provide less than 800 calories per day also
could result in heart rhythm abnormalities, which can be fatal.
Research suggests that losing ½ to 2 pounds a week by making healthy food
choices, eating moderate portions, and building physical activity into your
daily life is the best way to lose weight and keep it off. By adopting
healthy eating and physical activity habits, you may also lower your risk
for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
#2 Certain types of people cannot lose weight.
We are all born with a genetically pre-determined number of fat cells. Some
people naturally have more fat cells than others and women have more than
men. The number of fat cells increase the older we get.
It was once believed that the number of fat cells could not increase after
adulthood, only the size of the fat cells could increase. We now know that
fat cells can indeed increase both in size and in number and that they are
more likely to increase in number at certain times and under certain
Existing fat cells increase in size when energy intake exceeds energy
expenditure and the excess is stored in the fat cell. An overweight person’s
fat cells can be up to three times larger than a person with ideal body
Fat cells tend to increase in number most readily when excessive weight is
gained due to overeating and or inactivity during the following periods:
1. During late childhood and early puberty 2. During pregnancy 3. During
adulthood when extreme amounts of weight are gained
Normally during adulthood, the number of fat cells stay about the same,
except in the case of obesity. When the existing fat cells are filled to
capacity, new fat cells can continue to be formed in order to provide
additional storage – even in adults.
A typical overweight adult has around 75 billion fat cells. But in the case
of severe obesity, this number can be as high as 250 to 300 billion!
Because of these facts, many people believe, “Well, I have more fat cells
than other people, so what’s the use, I’ll never lose weight”. Some
people argue that obesity is genetic and/or that once you’re obese and your
fat cells have multiplied, it’s an uphill battle you can’t ever win.
It’s easy to search for excuses to explain your failure. It’s easy to
justify current circumstances and low future expectations by seeking out
seemingly logical and scientific facts and explanations.
Here’s the reality.
People who say it can’t be done are just pessimists or they are simply trying
to sell another pill, potion or miracle solution.
As much as some people desperately want to believe in a magic pill or
surgical procedure, getting a lean body always boils back down to nutrition
and exercise. You can’t change the number of fat cells you have (without
surgery), but you can shrink every one of them by changing your lifestyle.
The number of fat cells you possess will certainly influence how difficult
it will be for you to lose body fat. It’s one of the reasons why some people
have a more difficult time losing weight than others and why some people
seem to gain weight more easily than others if they’re not very careful and
diligent with their nutrition and exercise programs.
However, it does not mean that it’s impossible to get lean.
#3 High-protein/low-carbohydrate diets are a healthy way to lose weight.
The long-term health effects of a high-protein/low- carbohydrate diet are
not yet known. Additionally, getting most of your daily calories from high-
protein foods like meat, eggs, and cheese is not a balanced eating plan. You
may be eating too much fat and cholesterol, which can cause heart disease.
You may be eating too few fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which may
lead to constipation due to lack of dietary fiber and cause a lack of
essential vitamins and minerals. Following a high-protein/low- carbohydrate
diet may also make you feel nauseous, tired, and weak.
Eating fewer than 130 grams (520 calories) of carbohydrate a day can cause
your body to produce high levels of uric acid, which is a risk factor for
gout (a painful swelling of the joints) and kidney stones. High-protein/low-
carbohydrate diets are often low in calories because food choices are
strictly limited, so they may cause short-term weight loss. But a reduced-
calorie eating plan that includes recommended amounts of carbohydrate,
protein, and fat will also allow you to lose weight. By following a balanced
eating plan, you will not have to stop eating whole classes of foods, such as
whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and miss the key nutrients they
contain. You may also find it easier to stick with a diet or eating plan
that includes a greater variety of foods.
#4 A Low Fat Diet is Best
Certain amount of fats are essential, as some fatty acids cannot be made by
the body and must come from the diet. ( Fatty acids are simply one of the
main constituent parts of fat along with cholesterol) Some essential
vitamins (A D E K ) are only soluble in fat and the fatty acids act as a
carrier for them.
Certain fatty acids are also essential in the formation of cell membranes,
particularly in nerve tissue. It has been shown that patients on a fat free
diet develop scaly skin, infertility and run a greater risk of infection.
A further source of confusion is the different types of fat. In particular,
we have heard of saturated fat, unsaturated fat, mono-unsaturated fat and
poly-unsaturated fat. Without getting into the chemical differences between
each of these fats, suffice it to say that there are good fats and bad fats.
Saturated fats are the bad fats. Generally speaking, they are the ones
which are solid at room temperature and tend to be derived from animal
sources. i.e. butter comes from milk. Too much saturated fat is believed to
cause heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancers.
Unsaturated fats (both mono and poly ) are the good fats and tend to be
liquid at room temperature and are derived from vegetable sources. So when
we are looking at fats, keep an eye on the types of fat in the foods we are
eating and stay away from those which are high in saturated fat.
Now that we know what fat is, how much should we be eating? It is generally
accepted that about 30% of our calories should come from fat and no more
than 11% of this should be from saturated fat So, if we take a typical male
who is on 2500 calories, his fat target is no more than 750 calories (or
84g) from fat. Remember these are the maximum amounts allowed. It is much
better to err on the low side of this figure but DO NOT go below 20% of
calories from fat. (500 calories for our male example). Remember, we need
fat in our diet.
#5 Weight gain is genetic. You inherit it from your parents
Certainly, there may be what we call tendencies, but there is no such thing
as a fat gene that is passed down from generation to generation. What is
inherited are attitudes towards food and living in general. If parents are
overweight, it is likely that their food choices are unhealthy and it is
likely that their lifestyle is unhealthy. So, from a very early age, their
children are being subjected to that same unhealthy lifestyle. They have
little chance of remaining at a”normal” weight. They have learned to be
unhealthy by following what their parents have done and will carry this
learned behaviour with them throughout their lives.
Being overweight is not genetic but is another convenient excuse not to try
to lose weight. Each of us has within us the power to achieve our weight
#6 The “set point” theory determines what we all should weigh.
The set-point theory holds that we all have an internal weight regulator,
like a thermostat, that adjusts our metabolic rate up or down whenever we
gain or shed pounds in order to return our body to its predetermined weight.
Undoubtedly, some controls do exist or we would all be obese,
or,alternately, wasting away. Studies show that when we lose weight, our
metabolism actually shifts to a normal rate for that new weight, independent
of individual differences. It is important ,however, that the weight loss is
gradual, 1/2 to 2lbs per week is ideal. The body does not like rapid change
as it tends to have emergency responses to something that it doesn’t like.
For instance, by losing weight rapidly, through diet, our bodies will go
into “starvation mode” where it will slow our metabolism to preserve our fat
reserves and thus make it very difficult to lose weight. It will also tend
to make weight gain much more likely when the diet ends because our
metabolism has been slowed down so much.
People nevertheless embrace the theory to blame their bodies, rather than
their own behaviour, for their weight-loss failure. It offers comfort to
those who refuse to accept the fact that weight control requires a
commitment to a physically active and calorie-conscious lifestyle.
#7 Carbohydrates make you fat.
Carbohydrates do not make you fat. Calories make you fat. Often it’s the
sugar and fat contained in carbohydrates that make you fat. Also a lot of
carbohydrates are processed, so you don’t get the advantage of feeling full
from fiber found in unprocessed carbs. For example, whole grain pasta is
more filling and makes you feel satisfied longer than white pasta, the same
with white bread and brown bread though, both have the same amount of
calories. What will change the number of calories is the amount of sauce and
butter you put on your pasta. What you want to do is eat carbs in
#8 Counting calories is not important.
You definitely need to count calories in one way or other in order to lose
weight. Most people tend to overestimate their physical activity and
underestimate their calories. Don’t guess or try to estimate your caloric
intake. You cannot be accurate enough. There are many good computer
programs out there that do most of the work for you. If weight gain is
caused by your caloric intake (food) being greater than your caloric output
(living and exercise), how can you possibly know where you are and what
needs to be done?
#9 The best way to lose weight is to miss meals.
Studies show that people who skip breakfast and eat fewer times during the
day tend to be heavier than people who eat a healthy breakfast and eat five
or six times a day. This may be because people who skip meals tend to feel
hungrier later on and eat more than they normally would. Also, it is now
generally accepted that people who eat smaller meals, 5 or 6 times a day,
tend to be less likely to be overweight. The process of eating in itself
tends to raise your metabolic rate and by eating more often, tends to keep
your metabolism more active for longer. Remember, to keep within your
#10 The best way to lose weight is by starving yourself.
Losing weight by not eating is an absolute no, no. There are 3 main reasons
for this. Very low calorie dieting or any “quick weight loss” will
significantly decrease our metabolism. Eating increases metabolism due to
the energy required for digestion and absorption of the food. The calories
required to digest, absorb, transport and metabolise the food we eat, can
cause a 10% increase in our caloric expenditure each day. Every time we eat,
our body’s metabolism gets a temporary boost. So one way to help increase
metabolic rate is to eat smaller, more frequent meals and snacks. Skipping
meals causes a decrease in our metabolic rate until we again eat something.
Significantly reducing calories lowers our metabolic rate. Our body treats
any sudden reduction in food intake as an impending starvation situation and
prepares itself by slowing our metabolism to conserve calories. The more
drastically we cut our calories, the more our metabolic rate drops.
Losing weight through dieting alone without exercise, depletes our muscle
tissue stores. Muscle requires many more calories each day to maintain itself.
The faster we lose weight through dieting alone, the more muscle tissue we
lose and the lower our metabolic rate becomes. Exercise prevents muscle
tissue loss and adds muscle bulk and therefore raises our metabolic rate.
#11 We shouldn’t eat late at night as all that food will turn to fat.
The fact is, eating at night does not necessarily make you fat. There are
too many other variables involved to make such a big assumption. The primary
factor in whether you gain or lose fat is not when you eat but rather how
much. Providing we have not consumed too many calories for that day it
doesn’t really matter when we eat.
However, that doesn’t mean meal timing doesn’t matter, it simply means that
it’s entirely possible to eat one of your meals late at night right before
bed and still lose body fat, as long as you’re in a caloric deficit.
It would be more accurate to say that eating large meals late at night
before bed, especially calorie dense high carbohydrate meals, increases the
probability that you will store some of those calories as fat.
It is probably more beneficial if you plan to eat your calories earlier in
the day and slightly fewer calories at night. Experience has shown that this
will accelerate fat loss or make it easier to lose fat and that’s not the
same as saying “eating at night makes you fat.”
#12 Weight loss pills are the best way to lose weight if you have failed in
Would you believe me if I said there was a pill which could make you
smarter, richer or more attractive. No you wouldn’t. You’d probably would
laugh at the thought. It is no more ridiculous to believe that a pill could
make you lose weight. Many of the so called weight loss pills on the market
have not been properly tested and we are not yet sure of the long term
effects of taking them. You will read many reviews praising this pill or
that pill. Ask yourself this. “Is the writer of that review trying to then
sell me something?” There have been no pills yet which have been proven to
help weight loss safely and healthily.
#13 You can lose weight from a specific part of your body.
It is, absolutely, physically impossible to lose weight just from a specific
part of your body. You cannot control where fat is removed from your body.
Any machine or specific exercise which claims to specifically lose belly fat
or thigh fat is lying. Certainly, a specific exercise will improve muscle
tone in that group of muscles being trained, giving the illusion that fat is
Fat will only disappear from your body in a predetermined order.
Unfortunately for men that tends to be the belly area and the thighs and hips
for women. Tom Venuto, author of the internet’s best selling book on fat
loss gives us a very good analogy. “You cannot empty the shallow end of the
swimming pool before you empty the deep end first.”
#14 You don’t need to exercise to lose weight.
You certainly don’t need to exercise to lose weight but it is very, very
difficult if you don’t. Most diets fail because they are too difficult to
maintain. Severely cutting down on calories means we have to deprive
ourselves of too many things we enjoy. This leads to cravings which leads
to cheating which leads to failure. It is also unhealthy.
We can also burn off calories by exercising. By incorporating exercise into
our daily regime, we immediately make weight loss more attainable. Simply
by walking 30 minutes every day at a pace which raises our heart rate enough
can help our weight loss tremendously. However, the more we exercise the
more calories we burn. Additionally, exercise gives us many other health
benefits, like a healthier heart, lower blood pressure, a greater feeling of
well-being etc. The benefits are too many to mention.
#15 Don’t weigh yourself
It’s another misconception that you shouldn’t step on a scale while
attempting to lose weight. It is a good motivational tool to check your
weight on a regular basis, say once a week.It is an obvious way to gauge
your progress and alter your diet accordingly. However, only using scales is
a bad idea. Use your eyes to see body changes. Use a tape measure to keep
track of tummy and thigh inches.
However, what you must keep in mind is that what you are, ultimately, trying
to do is lose fat and not just weight. Measuring fat loss is more difficult
to do but it is a far better indicator of your progress. Body fat analysis
is best done by a professional and can be done at most local gyms or health
clubs. There are also a wide range of devices freely available which can
give you a fairly accurate measurement.
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