When it comes to weight loss there are so many myths and misconceptions out there. Here are some of the misconceptions you shouldn’t listen to.
- Eating fat will make you fat– The theory here is that since fat has 37 kilojoules (9 calories) per gram, compared to carbs and protein that only have 16 kilojoules (4 calories) per gram, in order to lose weight, you should avoid fat. The reality is, fat is not the enemy. Diets that are high in fat AND carbs can make you fat, but it’s not because of the fat. Although fat-laden products can be full of calories, consuming a modest amount of healthy fat can help you feel more full since they take longer to digest, so you eat less overall. Fat is also essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and phytonutrients such as vitamin A, D, E and K, which are essential for good health. In fact, studies have shown that diets that are high in fat (but low in carbs) consistently lead to more weight loss than low-fat diets.
- Low fat food products are better for weight loss– The theory here is that food products that are labelled low-fat and low-carb are considered to be healthier and better for weight loss. The truth is, these claims don’t always mean low calorie, and if you’re trying to lose weight, stocking up on these treats could actually undermine your efforts. The reason being is that when natural fat is taken out of a product, it is usually replaced with sugar to improve the taste of the food. It is this excess sugar that is extremely harmful to our health and waist line, while the fat naturally present in food is not. If you’re tempted by a snack food that’s labelled “light” or “low-fat,” check the nutrition label. Look at how many kilojoules/calories are in the “per 100g” column, then compare that number with the calories in a comparable product that’s not making the same label claim. And then consider having just a small amount of the real thing.
- Fasting slows your metabolism– The theory here is that if you skip meals throughout the day, your body goes into “starvation” mode and will slow your metabolism. Therefore, it’s better to eat smaller more frequent (5-6) meals per day. The truth is that the old notion of eating a meal every three to four hours to ramp up your metabolism isn’t exactly perfect advice. In fact, how frequently someone eats, has little to do with the speed of their metabolism. Eating frequently is popular for some because it helps them to keep a lid on both hunger as well as cravings. As a result, it allows for better portion and choice control. Certain individuals (those prone to cravings or with special dietary needs) may benefit from consuming multiple meals through the day. However, for the rest of us, the most important factors to consider (regarding metabolism) are the quantity and quality of the food we consume.
- Checking scales regularly will keep you on track– Although there is evidence to support this notion, people who jump on the scales daily can have a negative impact on your psychology and mood. When you start an exercise program, it is likely that you will increase your lean muscle mass. As a result, it’s possible that your weight could stay the same or even increase, even though you might be feeling and looking slimmer. There are also other factors to consider when weighing yourself that can affect that scales such as fluid retention (increased body fluid), if you have been to the toilet or not, “that time of the month” for women and time of day. Although it’s important to know how your weight is tracking generally, but once a week or once a fortnight might be a better approach. Documenting how you’re feeling is a much better way to measure your progress.
- Avoid eating out to stay on track– Most people when they are trying to lose weight, remove themselves from social situations that might lead them astray from their diet or because of a lack of willpower to stay diligent. This can also be detrimental to your mental health. Avoiding the situations that bring you joy because your focus needs to be on eating the right foods can create negative connotations and relationship with food, which you can end up resenting, and even be at risk of developing anxiety and depression. Instead of avoiding restaurants and cafes out of fear you will opt for bad food choices, be in control of choosing the restaurant and plan ahead by familiarising yourself with the menu so you can make the healthiest food choice when you dine. Who says you can’t have your veggies and eat them too?