5 weight loss myths debunked for you
I’m sat on my sofa with a glass of ginger and cherry infused kefir water (my latest experiment which I’ll share with you in the next couple of weeks, results pending), and it is POURING with rain outside. We’ve had more rain in 12 hours than we usually get in the whole of November, following a tornado which rippled through the island earlier this week – it’s been a crazy week on the weather front.
Today I’m sharing my hopefully very honesty, straight-talking approach to the below question which comes up a lot with my nutrition and personal training clients…
‘How can I get the willpower to change habits’, e.g. eating more healthily, exercising regularly?
A quick one from me today and since everyone seems to have fat/ weight loss on their minds as our weather is hotting up, I’d like to debunk some common myths, in the hope that it helps you along your way if weight loss is a goal of yours or someone you know.
There are so many confusing health messages out there and it’s a confusing area if you are relying on the internet to do your research, so let me help you out. Once you understand how our metabolism works, you’ll crack fat burning.
Here are a few of my favourite myths about weight loss and what you can do about them:
1. IF YOU EAT FEWER CALORIES THAN YOU BURN, YOU’LL LOSE WEIGHT
We are more complex than a machine, and weight loss is so much more than calories.
An extreme calorie deficit diet for too long is not sustainable and since our body regulates energy expenditure, when we reduce our calories in, the body will conserve energy and down-regulate, in an attempt to preserve energy in this ‘famine’ you’re putting it through, so our metabolism goes down a gear. Uhoh.
When you go back to eating normally again or enjoying more calories, which is inevitable since calorie restriction is tough work, you then increase the likelihood of re-bound weight gain and a lifetime of yo-yo dieting. Being mindful and aware of that is key as it’s a trap my clients get themselves into and they play the “how low can you go?” game which is not a fun or rewarding game to play!
The human body is so complex that if you eat whole foods, you’ll get more nutrients and you’ll be more likely to feel full for longer.
Focusing on the quality of foods will enhance the effectiveness of your metabolism. When we put the wrong quality of food into our body, it becomes hormonally clogged and the level of fat in our body rises.
So to summarise, if you have less calories coming in versus out, yes you will create a negative energy balance, and weight loss will occur, but it has hormonal and psychological consequences and long-term weight loss will be compromised. Most importantly though, life’s too short to eat miniscule amounts!
2). ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS HELP YOU TO LOSE WEIGHT
Diet fizzy drinks, sugar-free gum, Splenda, NutraSweet, Sweet-n-Low, and most energy drinks – this is what we are referring to here.
Fake sugars are both toxic and addictive, and among the worst things for our health in my opinion along with too much sugar and processed food. Your body gets confused and reacts in two detrimental ways:
(1) Your body will continue to crave sweet things, but your satiety hormones (your “I’m full” hormones) are suppressed. Your appetite and your I’m full hormones become scrambled and you are more likely to drink or eat more than you ordinarily would as you don’t recognise when you are full.
(2) Your body experiences insulin spikes due to the sweeteners and that leads to a whole host of issues, from weight gain, mood and metabolic disorders, through to long-term dysregulation of appetite.
Sweeteners ultimately cause toxic build up (they are chemicals!), and hormonal imbalance. Any toxins introduced to the body have to be metabolised by the liver and the liver is an organ we want on our side if our goal is weight loss since it helps us to fat burn and build vital proteins in our body, which is key to fat loss.
Instead of using sweeteners, sweeten foods and drinks naturally using natural sugars if at all, and at the same time, up the bitter foods in your diet (i.e. green leavy vegetables) so that your taste buds adapt and in time, you will preferentially choose less sweet foods.
3). YOU CAN OUT-TRAIN A BAD DIET
I used to exercise twice a day, or train at 100% every day without rest days and I wasn’t in nearly as good shape (or health) as I am now, training 3-4 times a week. When you over-train your body and under-rest it, you’ll end up running yourself into a state of exhaustion, you’ll probably make poorer food choices due to your appetite and stress hormones being all over the place and it’ll be mentally tougher to stay on track.
More exercise doesn’t mean better results.
A tired and exhausted can experience all kinds of hormonal havoc.
The trick is to exercise less often but smarter.
Doing high intensity interval training and deep muscle resistance exercises can change your body’s hormones and burn off fat in a short amount of time.
4). EATING FAT WILL MAKE YOU FAT
Fat free foods are usually packed full of sugar! (They have to replace the good tasting fat with something don’t they?) The way that your body handles simple sugars, and any extra sugar that the body can’t use is it stores it as fat!
A lot of clients I meet are terrified of fat. They fret over every almond consumed or every piece of avocado in a salad and I understand why as fat has been so demonised in the past. Panic not!
Don’t be afraid of fat. Your body needs the good fats! Some of my favourite fat-filled foods are avocado, flaxseed, olive oil, cocount oil, nuts and seeds and oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna.
Good fats are essential for every reaction in your body to take place since every cell in our body is lined with fats! They also help protect your organs (your heart!) and help your body absorb nutrients like vitamins A, D, E and K and they produce important hormones. If you’re looking to get healthier looking skin, hair and nails, then fat is something you need in your life!
Good fats also keep you fuller longer and promote blood sugar stabilisation. I notice that when I increase the amount of healthy fats in my clients diet, cravings subside, particularly mid-afternoon and post dinner cravings. Essential fatty acids such as Omega 3’s are needed to curb all kinds of conditions such as heart disease, cancers, immune system deficiencies, arthritis, skin complaints, PMS and menopausal symptoms – the proof is out there and it’s all backed up in scientific literature, so let’s ditch any fat insecurities, and include more of these amazing foods into our life.
When you start to eat the good fats, your skin will likely increase it’s glow factor and any excess weight you are carrying will be easier to burn. You might notice your mood lifting, your bowel movements might become more regular and your cravings will subside. So so powerful.
There are so many reasons to justify the inclusion of healthy fats. Avoid the ugly trans fats, and remember to eat everything in moderation.
5). SNACKING IS BAD
For some people, three meals a day and not snacking works, but for the majority of people, eating every three to four hours to keep our blood sugar levels stable works much better for a number of reasons.
Sstable blood sugar is the key to good weight and rational food choices. When energy and sugar levels are on an even keel with protein, fibre and healthy fat containing foods, this helps curb cravings, speeds up the metabolism, and it helps to control your mood, which is key to making great food choices! When we don’t eat for long periods of time, your body thinks it’s being starved and then goes into survival mode. Your body is so clever and what it wants most for you is to survive this famine! So what will it do to survive? Hold onto something, anything…. what does it hold onto? Fat! If you were efficient at fat burning during a famine, you wouldn’t see the end of the famine.
Does that clear a few things up? I hope so.
Wishing you an awesome week!