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We’ve all heard different advice when it comes to diets: all fats are bad, you have to exercise 5 hours every day and of course the famous one ‘carbs are the devil’. But what is fact and what is fiction? Here I de-bunk these myths and give you a helping hand to shift those pounds more easily.
1. All calories are the same
This is a common thing I find with a lot of people, we want to track calories and to a degree this is a sensible thing to do. After all, being in a caloric deficit is the way we lose weight. The problem comes with being able to sustain this caloric deficit and therefore choosing the calories which will keep you fuller for longer rather than the ones which could actually lead to you eating more food.
These are calories such as those from very highly processed sugary snacks or soft drinks which essentially do add the same amount of calories as some of the others but will not keep you full up and in some instances they can even get you craving more food afterwards. Adding calories from something high in fat such as nuts or high in protein such as lean meat, jerky or greek yogurt will keep you full up for longer meaning you’re less likely to overeat by snacking.
2. Stop eating after 6pm
We have been fed this myth a lot over the years and this is usually in one of two ways, either first off just not eating at all after 6pm or you will gain weight or it is packaged to demonise carbohydrates and not to eat these after 6pm or you will gain weight.
Both of these are incorrect, as with the first one the big take away is that calories do matter and eating the calories which will keep you fuller for longer will mean you are more likely to be successful in keeping a caloric deficit and be successful with your weight loss goals.
By tracking how much you’re eating you will be able to know if you’re in a calorie deficit throughout the day, the body doesn’t just suddenly stop burning them when the clock strikes 6pm. Stay under your calorie allowance and you will be fine.
3. Carbs will make you fat
Carbohydrates have a bad reputation and I feel sorry for them really, they haven’t done anything to harm people, poor things. There is a misconception here and it is due to the way carbohydrates actually help your muscles hydrate that makes you think they’re making you fat.
When you eat 1 gram of carbs your body will usually take in around 3-4 grams of water at the same time as storing these carbohydrates in the muscles in the form of glycogen (if you’re eating the correct amounts). Therefore if you eat carbohydrates, at first you may put on a little ‘weight’ NOT ‘fat’. It also works in reverse, if you drop carbohydrates from your diet you will usually drop a good amount of weight at first and then it stagnates. With carbs being a good source of energy within the body this is also going to mean your energy levels will most likely plummet and you will start to feel pretty rubbish – fun!
4. You need to increase your exercise
A massive thing people do is go straight into increasing their exercise amounts to levels which really aren’t sustainable or even what they love doing, this is where a lot of people fall off, they get bored, tired and sore and this leads to quitting. There are so many different forms of exercise around which most of us don’t even see as exercise and finding something you like means you’re more likely to stick to it repeatedly even on the days you don’t really feel like getting out of bed. Also doing different forms of the same thing, rather than long runs you could do some sprints or other forms of interval training to get the results and take less time out of your schedule.
5. You have to STOP drinking alcohol
Alcohol is just the same as carbohydrates, fats and protein to a degree, ok it won’t give you the energy that the others will and the body isn’t going to like it but it comes down to calories in versus calories out and alcohol will give your body calories. The problem comes afterwards where the body essentially has to burn the calories from the alcohol before the rest, which it cannot do efficiently.
When working with a client and they like a drink I am not going to cut it out entirely unless it is binge drinking and we have to find out the reason they’re sedating themselves with alcohol day in day out. We do want to make sure other things are taken into account which happen when people drink – drunk calories, these are the cheesy fries, the burgers and pizzas you gorge on when you aren’t in as much control then end up falling off, this is followed by the dehydration and cravings for salty foods the following day, a vicious circle but as with everything, moderation is key.
6. You should weight yourself multiple times per week
The scale itself can take it’s own whole article and more to explain why there is a love hate relationship with it but as with number 3 and the carbohydrate situation your weight will fluctuate depending on around a zillion factors therefore weighing yourself daily can put you into a negative mind frame if you’ve followed everything but not lost or even put on weight but there are reasons behind this.
You could have eaten later the day before, been more stressed, got less sleep, had less hydration, lower exercise, suffering from a cold or even down to being on your period and where you are in the cycle will determine how much water you are holding so therefore weighing yourself daily can be a negative thing for you to do which usually results in self sabotaging habits like starvation or overtraining, all things which will make your long term health goals harder to achieve let alone hit your weight loss goals where it hurts too. Take pictures, take measurements and weigh yourself every now and again at the same time in the morning and note the results over time.
7. Weight training will make you bulky
The amount of times I have explained this is crazy, time after time we see people jumping on the treadmill or exercise bike for hours and not only is this very time consuming it is also very negative if your goal is fat loss.
The thing I have had women say is they don’t want to get ‘bulky’ but this isn’t something which happens as an accident trust me. It takes a lot of focused training and nutrition to build good quality muscle but the good thing is that more muscle will allow your body to burn a little more calories through recovery and increasing your metabolism (only a minimal amount there by the way despite many people telling you otherwise).
The flipside is that if you do lots of cardio without the resistance training you risk burning your muscle fibres as fuel and instead of losing fat you increase the stress your body is under, you do ‘lose weight’ but you are the same or higher body fat percentage as you were before AND smaller which usually isn’t what people are after or even seek when it comes to saying they want ‘weight loss’ and the goal is actually ‘fat loss’.
As always with health and fitness there will be many myths around, it’s hard to know what is a myth and what is the truth but hopefully these will allow you some knowledge into how the body will actually work and help you toward your weight loss goals.