Sunday, September 11, 2016

Weight Loss Myths

I have been in the health and fitness business for over 20 years and I have seen many products and fads come and go.  Some have stuck around but most have faded just as quickly as they popped up.  Here are some of the popular myths about weight loss.  In the end its about how much and what type of food you put in your body along with what physical activity you do to burn calories.

Myth Number 1:  If I only exercise I will lose weight.  While initially you might lose a few pounds but if you don't adjust your diet you will most likely not succeed in your endeavors to lose weight and become healthy.  When people begin an exercise program sometimes they don't lose weight because their appetite increases. If this happens and you are eating the wrong foods you will most likely not lose weight because you may be eating more of the wrong foods.  To succeed you need a balanced diet along with exercise which includes cardiovascular and strength training.  

Myth Number 2:  If I do a detox I will lose weight.  Once again doing a detox you may initially lose a few pounds but at what cost to your body?  If you are fasting then you will probably lose muscle and water weight.  Once you begin eating you will likely regain the weight and probably increase your body fat levels.  The body is an amazing machine and there is no reason you need to detox, your body is made to detox itself.  Some people feel they need a detox to start their health journey as a kickstart.  Instead of doing this lay out a solid plan that incorporates lifestyle changes that include eating healthy with regular exercise.  

Myth Number 3:  Lifting weights will make me gain weight.  Yes its true that muscle weighs more than fat but muscle is a fat burning machine so if you have more muscle then you will likely have less fat.  It is so hard to gain muscle so by beginning a weight training program you will not suddenly become bulky.  It is true that each person is different and some people gain muscle easier than others.  Women in particular have a harder time gaining muscle especially if they are over 40 years old.  It is highly unlikely you will suddenly gain weight from strength training.  Follow the proper diet and you will add muscle and lose fat which will improve your health and overall appearance.  

Myth Number 4:  Carbohydrates are bad for you.  Over the years many diets have claimed that you should eat a low carb diet to lose weight.  There is no question if you eliminated carbohydrates from your diet you will lose weight.  This approach unfortunately is temporary and many people gain weight back because they can't sustain a no/low carbohydrates diet forever.  Processed and sugar filled carbohydrates are bad for you without question.  Good carbohydrates can provide you with lots of vitamins, fiber and are very nutritious for you.  Its important to eat everything in moderation even too much of a good thing can be bad for you.  Some good carbohydrates include:  oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, beans, yams, some fruit in moderation. 

Myth Number 5:  Reducing calories and skipping meals will help me lose weight.  Yes if you eat less than 1200 calories you will likely lose weight.  The problem with losing weight by reducing calories to an extreme is that you lower your metabolism.  Once you increase your calories you will start to gain weight even more quickly than before because your metabolism is so much slower.  You can eat calories based on your activity level and as long as you are eating good calories broken into small and frequent meals throughout the day you will lose weight.  

Myth Number 6:  Natural supplements will help me lose weight.  There are many supplements that claim to help you lose weight.  I worked in the supplement industry for 15 years and I am telling you that there is no miracle pill that will help you lose weight.  Some of the supplements that contain stimulants may help suppress your appetite and give you energy but they don't come without side effects.  Some of the side effects include rapid heart beat, headache,  and dizziness.  It is important to do your research before taking any supplement.  Other supplements that claim to help you lose weight are l-carnatine, CLA, citrus aurantium (bitter orange peel),  garcinia, gymnema, green tea, guarana, cayenne, and black pepper.  Some of these may suppress your appetite but thats about it.  I don't think its such a good idea to suppress your appetite because as long as your eating the right foods its not a bad thing to have a healthy appetite.  That means that your metabolism is working, having no appetite means your metabolism is slow.  

Myth Number 7:  Eating too much fat will make you fat.  There is no question that bad fats are not good for you and eating too much bad fat from processed food will likely lead to weight gain.  Fat is definitely more calorie dense containing 9 calories per gram compared to carbohydrates and protein which contain 4 calories per gram.  As with anything just be aware of the quantity and quality of the fat you are eating.  Look at serving sizes because it is very easy to eat 3-4 servings at one time of nuts which are mostly fat.  One serving of almonds is not bad for you but 3-4 servings may be too much depending on your activity level.  Good fats are in foods such as avocados, nuts, olive oil, and salmon.  

Myth Number 8:  I have to eat a lot of protein.  People think that to lose weight you have to eat loads of protein.  While protein is an important macronutrient its not true that you need loads of it to lose weight.  The RDA for protein for the average person is .8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight.  For a female weighing 150 lbs that would equal 53 grams a day.  There is some evidence that an active person may need a little more than that, about 1 gram per kilogram of bodyweight.  

Myth Number 9:  I need only protein after my workout.  You do need protein but you also need healthy carbohydrates to replace glycogen levels.  So don't just go for the protein shake think about adding some healthy carbohydrates into your post workout meal.  

If you want to lose weight then forget about the shortcuts.  Change your lifestyle and make eating healthy and daily exercise something you do on a regular basis not something you do because you suddenly find yourself overweight.  Make it a lifestyle and start by making small changes.  If you make drastic changes then they are likely to not stick and will be temporary.  Some small changes you can do that are likely to stick are:

1.  Make it a part of your weekend to prepare healthy meals for the week.  Make enough to use as lunch or dinner so you don't resort to fast, unhealthy choices.  
2.  Incorporate more vegetables into your meals.  Vegetables are full of fiber, vitamins and they make you fill full while containing minimal calories.  
3.  Drink more water each day.  Drinking more water will keep you hydrated and that will make you feel better and less hungry.  You will be less likely to overeat and it also helps your digestive system.  
4.  Reduce the amount of processed food that you eat.  Read ingredients and try to stick with foods that contain 5 or less ingredients.  
5. Limit or eliminate dairy products such as milk, cheese, and butter.  Use alternatives such as soy milk, coconut milk or almond milk.  Most dairy contains unhealthy fats, hormones and too much sodium.  
6.  Track you foods on one of the many apps available on your phone.  If you log everything for a few weeks you can really see where you are missing the boat.  You can look at your totals and see what you are getting too much of or not enough of.  What I typically see is people get too much sugar, not enough fiber and too much sodium.  
7.  Time your meals appropriately.  It is important for recovery to eat a balance of healthy carbohydrates and protein after a workout.  Your post-workout meal and breakfast are your two most important meals (they may be the same meal if you workout in the morning).
8.  Park a little further away from the entrance of a building when you are running errands and take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Lastly walk the dogs everyday even if its only for 20 minutes its good for you and good for them!

Good Luck!
Coach Cyndee
Train Hard.  Have Fun.  Recover Well.