There are a lot of factors which directly impact our daily decisions about what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat and how much physical activity is actually needed for a healthy lifestyle. The numerous choices which is available all over the internet, makes it very hard to decide what to do and which information to trust.
Here, we have debunked certain common weight loss myths to help you make better choices in your daily eating and physical activity habits in order to improve your well-being and maintain a healthy weight.
Common Weight Loss Myths about Food
- Weight Loss is a Linear Process
Contrary to popular opinion, losing weight is usually not a linear process. It is easier to lose weight within some days and weeks, while during others, weight gain seems a little bit more likely.
This is nothing to be concerned about. It’s normal for body weight to go up or down by a few pounds. This effect is even more significant in women, as water weight fluctuates significantly during the menstrual cycle. It proves critical to keep in mind that as long as your weight is gradually going downwards, no matter how much it fluctuates, you will still succeed in losing weight over the long term.
- Eating Less and Exercising More
Most of us harbor the belief in our minds that eating less helps reduce our weight. We need to understand that the fat stored in our bodies is simply stored energy. In order to lose weight, just a simple exchange is required, the need to burn more calories than our regular intake.
Therefore, eating less and working out more seems logical towards losing weight. Although this notion might seem to work in theory, it proves to be a bad recommendation for those with a serious weight problem. Majority of people who follow this advice end up regaining any lost weight due to physiological and biochemical factors.
- All Calories are Equal
It’s common knowledge that all calories have the same energy content. However, it is also a fact that different ‘calorie sources’ have different effects on your weight. Different types of food go through separate metabolic pathways, and cause greatly different effects on hunger and the hormones that keep your body weight in check. For example, calories from whole foods like fruit tend to be much more filling than calories from refined foods, such as candy.
Replacing carbohydrates and fats with proteins will help boost your metabolism and reduce untimely appetite and cravings, while enhancing the effects of weight-regulating hormones.
- Eating Breakfast is Necessary to Lose Weight
Numerous studies have shown that people who skip breakfast tend to weigh more than those who eat breakfast. This effect is observed probably because people regularly eating breakfast are more likely to have other healthy lifestyle habits. However, more detailed studies involving controlled environments have reported that breakfast habits have no effect on weight whether the participants ate or skipped breakfast. The notion that breakfast boosts metabolism and that you can burn more calories throughout the day by eating multiple small meals, is actually a myth. Therefore, the best practice would be to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full.
- Biology Does Not Affect Weight Loss
Generally, people say that losing weight is all about willpower, which is so not the case. Obesity is a very complex disorder with a long list of contributing factors. Among these, a lot of genetic variables are associated with obesity, along with various medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism, PCOS, and depression, that can increase your risk of weight gain. Your body also has numerous hormones and biological pathways that are supposed to regulate body weight. These tend to be dysfunctional in people with obesity, making it much harder to lose weight. For example, resistance to the hormone ‘leptin’ is a major cause of obesity. Leptin signals your brain upon reaching optimum fat storage. Still, if you’re resistant to leptin, your brain thinks that you’re starving. Exerting your willpower and consciously eating less while suffering from leptin-driven starvation signal will prove to be incredibly difficult. This doesn’t mean that people should give up just because of their genetics. It’s still possible to lose weight — it might just be much harder for some people.
Common Weight Loss Myths about Exercise
- Exercise Counts only for Prolonged Durations
Contrary to popular belief, there is no need to exercise for long periods to get the amount of regular physical activity which is recommended. An example of moderate-intensity activity is brisk walking. These sessions of activity can easily be spread out over the week and done in short, 10-minute sets, 3 times a day, throughout the week.
You need to find ways to incorporate short bursts of physical activity into your day. While at work, you can take a 10-minute walking break, or have a ‘walking’ or ‘standing’ meeting, rather than a “sitting” meeting. Practice using stairs instead of an elevator or escalator. Get off the bus before one stop, and walk to the next. Invite friends for walks, instead of meals.
- No Pain No Gain
The fitness of heart and circulatory system is very important for maintaining a stronger heart, and a leaner body. Still, feeling that ‘burn’, or pain in your muscles while exercising, isn’t necessarily an indicator of becoming more cardio-fit. In fact, you might ‘burn’ your muscles all you want and still experience only a small change in your actual heart rate.
For a healthier cardiovascular system and body, the main focus is to exercise at or above your target heart rate zone. Most people don’t stop while exercising to check the pulse – what you can do is keep track of your workout, not by the amount of muscle burn you’re feeling, but by rating your overall intensity of effort according to your training heart rate zone.
- Lifting Weights Makes You Bulk-Up
Lifting weights or doing other similar activities which helps you build strong muscles, such as doing push-ups and some forms of yoga 2-3 times a week, will not bulk you up. In order to really bulk up, intense strength training, along with certain genes, is required. Similar to other kinds of physical activity, muscle-strengthening activities help improve your health and also help you control your weight by increasing the amount of muscles that burn energy. Using large rubber bands, or resistance bands, or doing sit-ups or house chores that make you push or pull, helps you build strong muscles.
In your journey towards losing weight, you might have heard a lot of the same myths as discussed above. You might have believed some of them as well, as they are hard to avoid. What you need to keep in mind is that most of these myths are false.
Your focus should instead be on the relationship between food, your body, and your weight – which is very complex. Make a habit of being interested in weight loss, and learn about evidence-based changes to make your diet and lifestyle better.