Busting Weight Loss Myths
When it comes to weight loss there’s a lot of conflicting information flying about. There really is no quick fix if you want to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way. Here we bust some of the most common weight loss myths.
Myth: All calories are equal
Focusing solely on calories ignores the metabolic effects of each calorie, although all calories have the same energy content, different foods go through different metabolic pathways, which means they have different effects on hunger. A protein calorie is not the same as a carb calorie. The way in which you digest calories and retrieve energy from them depends on their source. For example, carbohydrates have been separated into two categories, simple and complex. An apple is classed as a simple carbohydrate as it is digested quickly by the body, however, chips are also classed as simple carbohydrates, yet they do not have the same health benefits. A better measure is to look at the glycaemic index of food. A low glycaemic index raises blood sugar levels slowly, which is beneficial as too many insulin spikes result in insulin resistance.
Rather than focusing on the number of calories you consume and burn each day, it is better to focus on eating whole foods and avoiding highly processed foods.
Myth: Weight loss is a linear process
Your weight will fluctuate on a daily basis, depending on your water and sodium intake. Just because the scale has gone up by a pound doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve gained a pound of fat. It’s better to track weight loss over the long term, as an overall downward trend means you’re making progress.
Myth: Foods labelled ‘low fat’ are a healthier option
To produce low fat foods, food manufacturers began replacing the animal fat in their products with unsaturated vegetable oils. Some of these changes involved altering the structure of vegetable oil so it could be used to replace solid fats. However, to do so requires undergoing a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogenated fats increase levels of dangerous trans-fats which are bad for the heart and cholesterol. Manufacturers also had to increase the amount of sugar in these ‘low fat’ products so that they remain tasty. Therefore, the typical low-fat product is usually high in carbs. Our bodies tend to digest foods high in carbs more quickly, which can lead to blood sugar dips and cravings.
Myth: Carbs cause fat gain
It’s a myth that carbohydrates are more easily stored as fat than other macronutrients. Weight gain is the result of consuming more than you burn, not the result of eating carbs. It is often thought that carbohydrates drive obesity because they raise hormone insulin and insulin is said to block the release of fat, however this does not fit with historical evidence. Indigenous groups like the Kitavans and Massas thrived on high carb diets. The Kitavans had very low insulin levels and few overweight people, despite surviving on a diet made up of 70% carbohydrates.
Myth: Skipping meals helps with weight loss
Skipping meals can be detrimental to your health. Your blood sugar levels drop when you skip meals consistently, which can have a negative effect on your mood. It can also lead to increased hunger which may cause you to overeat at your next meal, cancelling out any reduction in consumption you might have hoped for. Restriction usually ramps up cravings and the desire to binge, which often results in yo-yo dieting. If your body does not know when its next meal is coming it will start conserving energy, meaning it won’t burn fat as efficiently and may cause your metabolism to slow down.
You should always seek professional advice on any weight loss programme, and most importantly try and make it fun! Whether that be by teaming up with a friend or trying out some new recipes.
Next up, read about the best exercises for toning here.