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Monday, 8 December 2014

10 Common Weight Loss Myths

When it comes to dieting and weight loss, there is an overload of information to be found and sometimes it's hard to separate fact from myth. I wrote down a few common myths with the explanation why they are myths, hoping it will make your journey to weight loss a bit less confusing.
1. "You have heavy bones"

The average bone mass is between 4.3 and 6.5 lb ( 1.95 - 2.95 kg) for women and between 5.9 and 8.1 lb ( 2.66 - 3.69 kg) for men, showing that there's not a huge difference in bone mass depending on weight or sex. Research has shown that exercise and the development of muscle tissue are related to stronger, healthier bones, meaning that you can actually increase your bone density with strength training.

2. "It's in your genes so you'll probably never lose the weight"

While there is indication that there's a genetic component to overweight and obesity, it is not necessarily the only factor influencing the weight. Remember that while you may inherit the "fat gene", you probably also inherit the eating habits you see at home. By eating sensibly and exercising regularly you can raise your metabolism and beat the "fat gene".

3. "It's all about the calories you consume and burn"

This statement is actually partially true, because to lose weight you do have to burn more calories than you consume. But the source of the calories is just as important. Your body will react differently to 200 calories of ice cream than it will to 200 calories of fresh fruit. First of all the sugar in the ice cream will be absorbed quicker, leaving you craving more food soon after. The fruit will also keep you full longer. So try adding more natural food and reducing the processed foods for more effective weight loss.

4. "If you were overweight as a child you'll always be overweight"

Here too, we have a statement that is partially true, especially if one or both parents are obese. Once again, the child adopts the eating habits of the parents so that is a big factor in the child's weight. By having the parents adopt a healthier lifestyle, the child will follow suit making the chances of obesity as an adult slimmer (pun intended).

5. "Fad diets work for rapid weight loss"

Define "work"... Yes fad diets can make you lose weight quickly, but this weight loss rarely lasts and usually the weight you gain back is more than you initially lost. The problem with most fad diets is that they're not nutritionally adequate, meaning that many times they exclude important nutrients which are necessary for functioning of all the organs. Also the weight lost is usually water weight and muscle mass, not fat. Muscle mass is necessary to burn fat. Less muscle, less fat burning, more weight gain, etc.

6. "Natural or herbal weight loss products are safe and effective"

Just because it says natural or herbal doesn't mean it's safe. Coca and tobacco leaves are also natural... catch my drift? The problem is that these products are not regulated so it is not clear how much is safe and what the possible side effects and or interactions with other medications are. Just to be safe, always consult your physician before using any OTC weight loss product.

7. "Certain foods can help burn fat (like grapefruit, cabbage soup)"

Doesn't that sound wonderful? It's just not true. While certain foods can boost your metabolism like protein, chilli peppers or green tea, there are no foods which will actually burn fat. Your body burns fat to use for energy like when exercising and may continue up to 24 hours after exercise depending on the type of exercise you've done.

8. "Skipping meals is a good way to lose weight"

This should actually be number 1. This is the most common mistake made by dieters. Our bodies are built to store fat in case there's a famine, so we can use the reserve for energy. In the modern world we don't know what famine is. We say we're starving after a few hours of having had a complete meal, but that's just hunger we're feeling. So this fat that gets stored never gets used. When you skip meals, your body gets alarmed and starts storing more fat. It doesn't know when the next meal comes, so the fat is added to the fat that's already there. Rather than skipping meals its wiser to eat small meals throughout the day; about 5 or 6. That way your body doesn't feel deprived and doesn't prepare for the famine that never comes.

9. "Lifting weights while trying to lose weight will make you bulk up"

This is a concern especially for women. They don't want to end up looking like the incredible Hulk. Well rest assured, it would take hours of very heavy lifting each day with a specially designed meal plan to become even half that big. Strength training is actually encouraged because by increasing the muscle mass, you increase the fat loss which ultimately is your goal right?

10. "Eating after 8pm will make you gain weight"

This would mean that everyone working the night shift should have weight problems. It's actually not the time of day which will cause the weight gain. Eating a heavy meal right before bedtime (whatever time that is) could disrupt your sleeping pattern though, and lack of sleep can eventually cause weight gain.

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