At some point in your life, you’ve been on one. I’ve been on one. In fact, most of us have, or will eventually, be on one.
Of course I’m talking about being on a stringent, sacrifice everything in your life weight loss program. You’ve struggled to find the perfect routine, lost some weight, put back on some weight and, in the end, ended up back where you started. Sound familiar?
The likely culprit for your lack of long term success could be attributed to your personal belief systems.
What you believe directly impacts your behaviour, and weight loss is no exception.
Today, weight loss myths are as rampant as ever. Some are old, some new and many more are surely on the way. When you believe in things that are based on unsound, unscientific ideas and theories, you give up your control in your pursuit of losing weight. Let’s examine 8 of the biggest diet myths going around today. . .
1. “Overweight people have a slower metabolism than thin people”
Many people believe this statement to be true. But, not only is it false, the opposite is actually true. A person’s metabolism or resting metabolic rate (RMR) is linked to their total body mass (TBM) and their lean body mass (LBM). Large individuals have far more TBM and LBM. A tremendous amount of energy is required to move their large frames around. Don’t think so? Try hiking or climbing stairs with a weight vest or backpack on. Do you think you’d burn more calories? Of course. Large people burn far more energy while performing the same tasks as a thin person.
2. “Eat as much as you want and still lose weight”
Keep dreaming. Unfortunately, this is still a popular headline for unscrupulous marketers of various “miracle” weight loss products. They are outright lying to you. Many people are still duped by this myth because they don’t understand the energy balance equation on an intellectual level. It is the most basic fundamental of losing weight – calories consumed must be less than calories burned. If a weight loss product makes these kinds of claims, forget about it, it’s a scam.
3. “Some people are just “diet resistant”
It’s true that certain thyroid disorders can make weight loss very difficult for a few. However, these are rare genetic anomalies and chances are that you’ve never even met someone who actually has one. For those who believe that they have such a condition, they need to be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional. Once this is ruled out, it’s mostly a level playing field. You may have been convinced everything is against you:
- Slow metabolism
- Medical problems
- Bad genes
These factors certainly make things more challenging but it tends to be an all to common cop-out for many people. I’ve worked with countless clients over the years who lost weight (to the tune of 2lbs/week) despite having many of these limitations. If you’re not losing weight, the problem likely stems from believing many of the myths on this list or your mindset needs to change. It’s also possible that you are simply underestimating how much food you are actually eating. In fact, most of us are pretty bad at estimating our own caloric intake – especially women for some reason.
4. “Eating healthy will make you lose weight”
To illustrate this point I’ll rewind to 3 years ago. I ballooned to 230 lbs. Sure I was strong and muscular but I had more than my share of body fat too. What went wrong? I ate all the right foods at the right times and spent top dollar on nutritional supplements. So why did I become fat? I ate too much, that’s why.
This is the health/body fat paradox at work here. You can eat healthy and still gain weight like I did. You can also lose weight if you don’t eat healthy, although this approach will compromise your wellness. You need to strike a balance. Eat for your health but keep the portions low enough to actually lose the weight.
5. “You just have bad genetics”
Maybe. But that’s not why your struggling to lose weight. Being predisposed to weight gain from a genetic perspective is extremely rare. If you consider that the obesity epidemic in our country only began about 50 years ago, genetics can hardly be blamed for that. Your social and physical environment, behavior and biology play a much larger role.
Even if your genes are less than ideal in the body fat department, you still have plenty of influence over how your genes express themselves. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family, exercise, keep stresses low, practice positive behaviors and even those with the worst genes can be successful on a weight loss program.
6. “Eating fat makes you fat”
Even in today’s carb- fearing society, dietary fat still makes most people cringe. If I eat fat, surely I’ll get fat right? This is absolutely false. What makes fat an issue when dieting is the caloric density. At 9 calories/gram, a little too much fat can wreck a diet in a hurry. Of course moderation and proper selection is the key. Also note that just because something is low in fat doesn’t make it healthy or even lower in calories. Extra sugar is usually added as flavor compensation to the product which in turn increases the total calories.
7. “Carbs make you fat”
In the past we tried to restrict fat from our diets (because conventional medical wisdom told us so; and still does to some degree today) and guess what happened? We got fatter and sicker. In recent years the pendulum has swung the other way and carbs were restricted from our diets. You guessed it, we are now the fattest we’ve ever been as a culture.
Preoccupation with singling out one nutrient as the sole reason you’re overweight is lunacy. It’s not the carbs, the fat or the protein or any ratio thereof that is thereason why the weight just won’t come off. Read myth # 4 again for the real reason. Any proposed diet solution that tries to manipulate your carbohydrate intake is missing the point and can only promise short term results at best.
8. “Insulin resistance causes obesity”
Insulin is in part, a fat regulating hormone and being resistant to insulin can cause all sorts of metabolic problems. This does not equate to obesity though. That is, unless you construct a lifestyle that exacerbates that weakness. Like every other function in your body, insulin production needs to be regulated. Having chronic high levels in your blood can result in:
- high blood pressure
- high trigricerides
- low HDL (good cholesterol)
- high fasting blood sugar
- excess abdominal body fat
These are usually characteristics of an obese person but by eating for your body type and exercising you can help keep this hormone in check and enjoy weight loss success just like anyone else.
I’m sure that you are an intelligent, logical thinker who’s out there looking for real world solutions to your weight loss goals. This however, doesn’t exempt you from falling victim to any of the 8 weight loss myths I’ve presented here today. Learn the fundamentals of healthy, long term weight loss and apply it. Forget about what everyone else is doing and do it right.
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