Food Fiction: The Facts Behind Five Weight Loss Myths
By Guest Author Chrissine
In a world so focused on celebrity culture and the latest trends, losing weight can be precarious. On one hand you may be impatient to see instant results. On the other you need to make gradual, sensible changes to your lifestyle that you can stick to in order to gain long term results. Nutritionists agree that different dieting techniques work for different people but there are also some pre-conceptions when it comes to weight loss that are neither helpful nor healthy.
When you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy diet, you can often find that there’s so much conflicting weight loss theories, diet tips and food-related myths out there that it can be hard to distinguish fact from fiction. Although numerous studies agree that regular exercise and a healthy, well balanced diet are the key elements in weight loss and a healthy lifestyle, there are several other aspects that are less clear. Being drawn in to fad diets will not see you achieve long term success and may even have a detrimental effect on your health and state of mind. Here are the truths behind some of the most popular (and inaccurate) diet and weight loss myths so that you can know be in full possession of the facts and able to steer your weight loss journey in a sensible, knowledgable way.
Myth: Skipping meals and eating less will make you thinner.
Fact: Many people think that the less they eat the more weight they will lose but this isn’t always the case and can sometimes even have the opposite effect. Ultimately the body needs fuel to survive and by skipping meals or depriving yourself of nutrients, you will find yourself low on energy and feeling lethargic and unwell. Studies indicate that when your body is lacking in nutrients it tends to crave them, so by not eating you will find yourself more likely to long for, and finally give in to, large meals and high fat foods that will be far worse for your waistline then eating regularly and sensibly. Not only this, but if your body’s metabolism remains inactive for too long (i.e. not digesting anything) it can become gradually slower and less effective. Over a long period of time slow metabolism can lead to chronic weight gain.
Myth: Losing weight means completely cutting out carbohydrates.
Fact: Carbohydrates are usually a staple part of any diet but the key is knowing the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ carbs. Bad carbohydrates (also known as simple carbohydrates) include foods such as sugar, white bread/pasta and fried foods. These are quickly converted into sugar by the body’s digestive system leaving you with a short lived energy burst as your blood sugar level rises then falls again in quick succession. Unfortunately this breakdown can be too quick meaning that the body is suddenly filled with excess sugar with nowhere to go; this is then converted into body fat. Good (a.k.a complex) carbohydrates, on the other hand, have a more complicated molecular make up meaning that they take the body longer to break down and provide you with more stable blood sugar levels, longer lasting energy and less fat accumulation. Complex carbs include things like whole grains and starchy vegetables. Studies indicate that a sensible, low-carb diet can be more effective in weight loss than a low-fat diet.
Myth: Losing weight means never eating out or having fast food.
Fact: If you are on a strict weight loss regime then you have to watch how often you eat out or enjoy fast food treat. But long term weight loss means making lifestyle changes that you can stick to and is it realistic to say that you’ll never go out for dinner with friends again? The problem with eating out is that you can never be sure of the full calorie content of a meal. Fast food is also notoriously bad for excess sodium content. However, most restaurants now offer a ‘healthy option’ on their menus and opting for salads, grilled meat and dishes without sauce/dressings is generally a fairly safe option.
Myth: Intense exercise is the only way to lose weight.
Fact: Not always. Once again, weight loss and healthy living is about making achievable, long term changes to your life and an over-ambitious exercise regime may work in the same way as crash dieting: quick results, perhaps, but they won’t last.
The UK National Health Service recommends that adults between the ages of 19-64 should get 150 minutes of physical exercise per week. Try an adapt this into your daily routine. Instead of driving to work, why not walk or cycle? Get up an hour earlier in the morning and take a jog, go swimming or join a gym. Weight loss means using up a certain amount of calories that you have ingested within a certain amount of time – eating less or exercising more is the only logical way to do this. Remember that as you age you metabolism automatically slows down so you need to be prepared to adjust your diet and exercise regime to match the changes in your lifestyle. But for long term results you need to do this in a way that you are willing and able to stick to.
Myth: Slimming pills are a good way to lose weight.
Fact: Artificial slimming aids should never be treated as a long term method of weight loss. You should only use them on the advice of a GP and be wary of over-the-counter pills that you can buy in drugstores, supermarkets or online – many are not proven to be effective or safe. Consider more natural weight loss remedies such as Chia seeds which can help repress hunger through their moisture absorbing properties. But even natural weight loss aids shouldn’t be used in excess and would be better as part of a well balanced diet.
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