Common Weight Loss Myths Busted (Part 4 of our Series on Weight, Metabolism, & Stress)
Weight loss myths and advice are so common (and contentious) now. There are competing opinions everywhere. Everyone is 100% sure they are right.
I say, forget about “who’s right” and let’s focus on “what’s right.” Because what 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.
There are too many weight loss myths out there. I’m going to tackle the top ones I come across in my practice.
This is the biggest myth of them all. There is a billion dollar industry built around this myth. People pour their hopes and money into believing this weight loss myth.
Now, I’m not saying that people can’t lose weight with a diet. They can and do. But diets don’t work. They don’t help people lose weight and keep it off. In fact, about 95% of people who lose weight by dieting will regain it in 1-5 years. Most of them end up gaining more than they lost.
Hop over to Facebook and catch this interview I did with my husband. He did the diet. He regained the weight (and then some.) And then he changed his lifestyle. He is so much healthier and lighter than he was; he has more energy. And, best of all, this is his new normal. He doesn’t daily look forward to when he’s done with the diet.
Diets don’t work because they are a temporary change. As soon as the person goes back to “normal,” the unhealthy habits resurface–the same ones that brought on the weight in the first place. No, diets don’t work. What does work is a change in lifestyle.
Myth: Calories cause weight gain, and fewer calories are the path to weight loss
Calories impact both weight loss and weight gain. It is true that if you eat and absorb a ton more than you use, then your body will store some for later. Calories matter.
But, they are not the “be-all and end-all” of weight loss. They are 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 because they feel 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.
Myth: Eating fat will make me fat
This weight loss myth is based on the fear of the word “fat” and not grounded in reality at all. In fact, there are types of fat that actually make you lose weight! Truly!
Several specific fats help people lose weight. Some stimulate brown fat to burn calories, others reduce the amount of stored fat in the body, while others reduce the number of fat cells. Now, these are specific types of fats. I’m not saying go have a peanut butter cup candy and expect your weight to drop. These “skinny fats” are from things like grass-fed dairy (only grass fed), fatty fish, as well as some flowers and seeds.
Eating a diet rich in the healthy fats found in seeds, nuts, fruits, and fish will not make you fat; it could make you thinner.
Myth: “Eat less move more” is good advice
Well, then we’re all in tip-top shape, right? Because people have been doling out this advice (myth) for years.
The premise of this is based on the above myth that calories in minus calories out equals your weight. So, eat fewer calories, and burn off more calories (because human physiology is a simple math equation, right?).
Even if people can happily and sustainably follow this advice (which they can’t!); it completely negates other factors that contribute to weight problems. Things like the causes of overeating I mentioned above. Not to mention our genetics, health conditions we’re dealing with or our exposure to compounds that are “obesogenic.”
Myth: A calorie is a calorie
Can we please put this one to bed already?
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 metabolized. They can slightly increase your metabolism, just by eating them.
For example, when you metabolize protein you burn more calories than when you metabolize carbohydrates. Proteins and carbohydrates both have 4 calories/gram; but, the TEF of protein is 10-20% higher than the TEF for carbohydrates! [For more about this, check out part two in this series on weight, metabolism, and stress.]
Here’s another example of a calorie not being a calorie. Different fats are metabolized differently. Medium chain triglycerides (fats) (MCTs) have the same 9 calories/gram that other fats do; but, they’re metabolized by the liver before getting into the bloodstream and therefore aren’t utilized or stored the same way as other fats.
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 full of garbage (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. You may find it helpful to have a coach helping you discover the most effective way for you to lose weight. If so, schedule a free 20-minute consult with me.
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 weight loss myths that say:
- Calories cause weight gain, and fewer calories are the path to weight loss.
- Avoid fat to lose weight.
- “Eat less move more” is good advice.
- A calorie is a calorie.
- Buy this supplement/tea/food/magic potion to lose weight.
Now check out my magical “weight loss salad” recipe below (just kidding!)
Recipe: Filling and Nutritious Kale Cucumber Salad
4 cups kale, divided
1 cup cooked beans of your choice (white beans, chickpeas, etc.)
1 cup cooked quinoa, divided
1 cucumber, sliced and divided
Cucumber Dill Dressing
½ cup tahini
½ lemon, juiced
½ cup cucumber, chopped
1 green onion, chopped
½ tsp maple syrup
2 dashes salt
2 dashes black pepper
¼ tsp garlic, minced
Divide salad ingredients into two bowls.
Add all dressing ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until creamy. You may need to add water to thin. Add it slowly, a tbsp at a time until desired thickness is reached.
Add dressing to salads and gently toss.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Extra dressing can be stored in the fridge for a few days