Over my time in the health and wellness world between school, working part time as a personal trainer, working in a gym, and now working for a corporate wellness obesity management company, I have noticed that there are a few myths that many people who are working towards living a healthier lifestyle are under the impression are true. I want to debunk some of the most common misunderstandings when it comes to losing weight and I hope that you leave with a better understanding of how to get to your goals the healthy way.
1. If the number on the scale goes down, that’s good
To some extent this is true. If the scale number has gone down, it means you’ve lost weight. But a scale doesn’t tell you where that weight loss has come from within your body. In most cases when someone is looking to lose weight, they really want to lose the weight from the fat within their body. When the number on the scale goes down, that weight loss could be from the loss of fat, or lean tissue, or it could even just be because of your fluid fluctuation that day.
2. You have to cut your calories in order to lose weight
Sometimes cutting calories can actually cause you to gain weight and not lose any. When we cut calories without taking into consideration how many calories you expend on a typical day, then you can unknowingly put your body in a situation where it is not getting enough calories to function on a daily basis. When this happens your body thinks that it is being starved and will then begin to lower your metabolism and store more energy for future use. This storage of energy can cause an increase of fatty tissue under the right conditions.
3. You have to cut out carbs in order to lose weight
Cutting out carbohydrates certainly helps some people lose weight. But it’s hard for them to keep that weight off once they reintroduce carbs to their diet. Carbs are your brain’s fuel source and your muscles preferred form of energy. You have to eat them. Feel free to limit the simple carbohydrates in your diet, things like white bread or other refined flour products, sugary cereals, and candies. But be sure to eat some complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain breads, brown rice and lots of vegetables!
4. You have to cut fat in order to lose weight
This one makes sense at first. If you want to lose the fat in your body, why would you continue to eat any of it? One issue is that fat helps your body metabolize many important nutrients and vitamins. Another problem is that all of those manufactured low-fat and fat-free foods have something else in them that hinders weight loss for most people, sugar. Food companies found that when they removed the fat from their products it removed the flavor. Their foods now tasted awful and they knew they wouldn’t be able to sell them as they were. In order to make their foods taste good again and to keep people purchasing their products, they added in sugar. But when the body is met by an onslaught of sugar several things happen that hinder weight loss and can actually cause weight gain.
5. Low calorie/artificial sweeteners are going to help you lose weight
This point really piggy backs off of the last one. Some people think that if they switch to low calorie or artificial sweeteners they will be able to stop some of the effects that real sugar has on their body. But some studies have shown that the artificial sweeteners effect the body in a similar way, but more intensely. This means that blood sugar levels often get even higher and the crash afterwards is even lower. These more extreme reactions are actually worse for the body in terms of blood sugar regulation and insulin resistance.
When it comes to losing weight, many people are misled by quick fixes and one step methods. The most important thing is to examine your daily life and look at sustainable ways you can make healthier choices in your diet and daily activity. These choices will lead to a true lifestyle change that will then lead to success on your health journey.