I hope that the following will help clarify some advice you have heard or read, and in turn help steer you on a path that will lead where you want to go.
Top 12 Health and Weight Loss Myths I hear as a Health Coach
1) Eating late causes weight gain.
This is by far the most rampant health and weight loss myths I hear on a near-daily basis. Some days it seems that nearly everyone I speak with has fallen victim to this myth, and from the way it has been perpetuated by popular media, I can understand why. Here is what you must understand when it comes to weight management: Consuming more calories than you burn off in a given time period will lead to weight gain. Conversely, burning more calories than you take in will lead to weight loss. Much of what we read tries to complicate the matter, but this principle is what weight loss all boils down to. Sleeping right after eating does not cause the calories to be stored as fat, but consuming too many calories throughout the entire day does. That said, if cutting back late-night snacking or eating dinner earlier helps you to cut back your overall calorie intake, then it will help with your weight loss goal.
2) I can target where I lose weight by doing exercises that target that body part.
Unfortunately, our bodies will take any fat burned through exercise from where it chooses. With enough dietary changes and exercises, eventually you can lose those love handles, but there is no exercise that can nudge your body into choosing that area first. Exercises that target specific body parts will either strengthen or improve the endurance of the muscles they target.
3) “Fat-free” means I won’t gain any fat from eating it.
Remember to always look at the entire picture. Often fat-free products are high in sugar (and therefore high in empty calories), and sugar-free products can be high in fat. Any calories we eat in excess of what we burn will be stored as fat in the body, no matter if they come from fat or another source.
4) Carbs are the enemy
Again, a diet too high in calories relative to the amount you burn each day leads to excess body fat, no matter the source of those calories.
The American Dietetic Association recommends adopting a balanced eating pattern (meaning it includes sources of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins). It is generally recommended that carbohydrates should make up 45-65% of the total calorie intake for a healthy adult. An extremely carbohydrate-restrictive plan such as the Atkins diet has less than 130 grams of carbohydrates per day throughout the initial phase and potentially the entire diet, which is the minimum amount of carbohydrates needed daily to provide glucose for proper brain function. Following this plan means eating fewer whole grains, fruits and vegetables, which reduces the amount of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber consumed. Additionally, it leads to eating more unhealthy saturated fat and cholesterol, which increases your risk for coronary heart disease.
5) I must exercise at least 30 minutes at a time to burn any fat.
Many people attempting to lose weight have been told that they must exercise a certain length of time to reach their “fat-burning zone”. Remember, the key is burning calories because any calories you don’t burn in excess of the number of calories you take in will end up as stored fat. And burning more calories than you take in will lead to losing fat. It does not matter what fuel source the burned calories come from – fat, carbohydrates, or protein.
6) I must exercise at certain times of the day to see results.
I have spoken with people working on weight loss who believe that they must exercise first thing in the morning before eating, and those who believe they should exercise in the evenings after eating most of their food for the day. Exercise is hard enough for most people to fit into their busy schedules without extra unnecessary restrictions being placed on when they should exercise!
This goes back to the first myth regarding avoiding eating at certain times of day. It does not matter what time you burn or consume your calories, or the length of time between consuming and burning calories. And you will burn the same number of calories walking three miles in the morning versus walking three miles in the evening, so just plan it when it works best for you.
7) If I add a few hours of exercise each week, I will lose the weight without having to make any changes in my eating habits.
I will often speak with someone who wants to lose ten pounds in the next two or three months, and their entire plan is to walk 30 minutes three or four times per week. I have to let them know that this plan will not lead them to their goal without adding dietary changes. This is a bubble I hate to burst, because I don’t want to undermine the many important benefits of a regular exercise routine and the role that it plays in weight loss. But it is very difficult to lose weight at your desired rate through exercise alone, and here’s why: a 150-pound adult burns about 100 calories by walking or running one mile. Since there are 3500 calories in a pound of fat, we can see that someone would need to walk or run about five miles per day every single day to burn one pound of fat per week. Most people I work with are not ready to add this much activity each day to their current routine. Combining the effects of added exercise and a reduced calorie intake is generally a much more realistic route to a healthy weight than focusing solely on one or the other.
8) Juice is much healthier than soda, so if I substitute juice for my sodas, I will lose weight.
This is another one I wish were true, but please don’t confuse “healthier” with “lower-calorie”. While it is true that juice provides many more nutrients than soda, due to the high natural sugar content of juice (even the “no sugar added” variety) the calorie level is about the same and sometimes even higher than soda. And remember, when it comes to weight loss, it’s all about the calories whether they are from a nutritious source or not.
9) Gluten is bad for me
The reason you are suddenly seeing more “gluten-free” products on the market is, due to an increased awareness in the medical community, more and more people are being diagnosed with a gluten intolerance called celiac disease. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. If you do not have an intolerance to gluten, there is no reason to avoid it. A gluten-free diet is not a route to weight loss or even better health for the general public.
10) Eating a diet high in sugar leads to diabetes.
While we certainly don’t want to encourage a diet high in sugar, it does not directly lead to diabetes. However, being overweight or obese is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes (the most common type of diabetes). Excessive calorie intake from any source – whether sugar or other carbohydrates, protein, fat, and/or alcohol – will lead to excessive amounts of stored body fat and pose a risk for type 2 diabetes. Hypothetically, a person could eat a diet relatively high in sugar, but lower in other sources of calories, maintain a healthy body weight and not be at increased risk for diabetes.
11) “All natural” or “organic” means it is healthy/low calorie. And the sister myth – Sea salt is much healthier than regular table salt.
As I like to remind people, lard is a natural substance. Some brands that make organic products do focus on healthier and lower-calorie options, but we cannot assume this is the case. The label “organic” simply refers to the way in which the food was produced, not to the nutrient value or health benefits of the food itself. Whether you buy organic foods or not should be a personal decision based on your review of research from reputable sources, but just know that eating organic or natural foods will not directly lead to weight loss. Additionally, advertising has led many to believe that sea salt is a healthy alternative to regular table salt that poses no health risks of its own, but the sodium content is actually about the same in sea salt versus table salt.
12) Reduced sodium/fat means low in sodium/fat
The Food and Drug Administration provides guidelines for food labeling, and a product may be labeled as “reduced sodium/fat/calorie” if it contains 25 percent less sodium/fat/calories than the regular product. Often, the “reduced sodium” label appears on products such as canned soup or soy sauce that are so high in sodium to begin with, even with a 25% reduction they are still very high in sodium.
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Weight Loss Tips and Strategies that Actually Work
No matter how hard you try, the temptation of ice cream and chips is too great for you to resist. You’ve tried all the latest fad diets but those extra pounds just won’t budge!
Granted, losing weight is difficult but it is not impossible. There are countless articles that show weight loss routines and programs that promise to help you shed weight fast. But there’s one thing that you should understand: losing and keeping weight off is a lifetime commitment. You have to shift lifestyles.
And that lifestyle choice is anything but sedentary. The first thing you need is to be committed to losing weight and then keeping it off. Check out these weight loss strategies and don’t hesitate to contact us if you need help.
Being Committed to Losing Weight
That’s commitment: an unwritten and unspoken promise to yourself.
Commitment requires focus, however, especially in the case of losing weight and keeping it off. Regardless of the diet and exercise regimen you focus on, you will need to stay focused on your goals. But first you need to make those goals.
Commitment may be unwritten and unspoken, but your goals are not. Maintain those goals in a separate diary and write down manageable tasks to achieve within a specific time frame. That’s the best way to achieve your goals and not lose focus.
Many of us want to be fit for the summer and get that “summer bod,” so to speak, but that isn’t a long-term goal. And no, your cousin’s birthday this summer isn’t either. To be effective with weight loss, you need your goal to stretch over the long term and accompany some good habits, such as eating healthy foods (fruits and veggies) and exercising daily.
Obstacles will come. For instance, you get invited to a dinner party with friends and family and they are going to a restaurant where they have burgers and pizzas, but you know that you have to keep with your diet and exercise plan. Don’t excuse yourself if you don’t want to miss out on the time you spend with them; instead, see if the restaurant serves something vegan/vegetarian or if they have something that isn’t heavy on carbs and calories.
Find Your Inner Motivation
While you may also use this approach by imagining yourself with a fit body and getting compliments left and right, you may also keep the benefits of adopting a healthier lifestyle in mind. This can also drive you to be more active in daily life.
Let’s start by finding out the mental and physical benefits of having a healthy lifestyle.
What Physical Activity Does for Your Body and Mind
Well, you’re about to find out:
- When you exercise regularly, you actually build more muscle in addition to burning fat. That, in fact, helps you boost your metabolism, which in turn helps you burn more calories. That is to say, the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism and the greater the number of calories burned!
- By doing regular exercise, you train your body to have a better posture and build your strength further. The correct posture can do many things for your body. From relieving back, neck, and shoulder pain to boosting your self-image!
- By exercising regularly, you get yourself into the right frame of mind. Each time you exercise, you get dopamine releases that make you feel good. When you see that you are losing weight and getting there, it serves to condition your mind into associating a fit body with that regular dose of exercise. The feel-good hormones in your body like dopamine and adrenaline serve to make you work with a new-found You are less likely to have junk food as part of your diet when your mind makes that same association with healthier foods, no matter how bland they seemed to taste at first.
- Get that necessary boost in energy that you need by having a healthier lifestyle overall. Exercising allows your lungs to work more, provides more oxygen to your tissues and cells, and leaves you with higher energy levels.
- When you exercise, you get your heart pumping with increased pressure that takes impurities like bad cholesterol out of your blood vessels. But remember to replace that with good nutrients through better foods that are not processed. Processed cheese, ice cream, soda, chips, and various spreads should be very limited. A piece of dark chocolate is okay every once in a while because it has a high magnesium content.
- Speaking of the heart and lungs, exercise also helps you reduce your risk for potentially life-threatening diseases like type 2 diabetes, several different types of cancers, and It can also help prevent other life-altering diseases like arthritis, osteoporosis, mild forms of depression, and metabolic syndrome.
- A healthy lifestyle may also give you hope for a better future. If you are just looking for a pick-me-up after a break-up or wanting to recover after a stressful work day, taking a quick 30-minute walk or working on your muscles at the gym can give you that much needed mood boost. You’ll feel happier and more relaxed after doing this type of physical activity.
You can add these benefits of adopting a healthy lifestyle to your motivational list to lose and keep the unwanted weight off. You can also come up with your own list of reasons to keep yourself motivated to lose and keep the weight off your body. Next, you just need to make your goals and stick to the daily tasks that you have come up with to achieve those weight loss goals.
Establish an Exercise Routine
There are exercise apps that can help you stay on track with whichever regimen you choose, and those with timers that you can use for your daily exercise. They’ll help you keep track of your goals and monitor your progress every step of the way. When you start with your exercise regimen, you don’t have to let it be a chore, make it fun and switch it around to keep the routine from getting boring.
Get some music for your gym and brisk walk days. Spotify is a time saving option to have a ready-made playlist for your exercise routines. If you don’t like listening to music while you work out (highly unlikely), you can listen to self-help audio books (from Blinkist) while doing lower-intensity workouts on a treadmill. This will help you to be more productive and improve your professional life while working on your personal life.
At least keep up with the recommendation from the World Health Organization. They encourage 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week. Most exercise like lifting and mid-intensity cardio are considered moderate, so that means 30 minutes of exercise per day. Stick to that consistently and the results will speak for themselves.
Track What Food You Eat
The good news is that even healthy food can be made to taste delicious by adding different spices.
Follow a diet that is rich in plant-based foods and unprocessed cooked meats, and you will be able to control your calorie count and reduce unnecessary intake. Remember that iron is found in green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. Brush up on your research regarding plant-based foods and lean meats like fish and chicken.
Reserve beef for special occasions such as cheat days or family gatherings. Don’t skip breakfast. Include low-fat dairy products and whole grains in your diet. Eat a good variety of fruits and vegetables.
If you give in to cravings every now and then, you should practice moderation and don’t go overboard. Don’t deprive yourself of any nutrient group just because you’re on a diet, otherwise you may suffer from vitamin deficiencies and serious health concerns like depression, osteoporosis, and other bone diseases. Diet is a lifetime commitment so you should consult a nutritionist before starting.
Don’t Compromise On Your Sleep
Less than seven hours of sleep can result in weight gain, fast. Sleep deprivation can spike up cortisol (stress hormone) production which disrupts your metabolism, causing you to store unwanted fat. If you’re exposed to your phone at night, your production of melatonin gets suppressed. Consequently, it gets harder to fall asleep. So set that phone aside, and have a set sleeping and waking schedule and stick to it. Consistently!
The schedule should account for at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, tipping more toward the 8-hour mark.
If you’re seeking help to accomplish your weight loss goals and are looking for professional guidance, feel free to contact us.
Summary of Weight Loss Myths and Health Tips That Work.
These weight loss myths are repeated early and often in the weight loss industry. Rest assured that following our tips for success and ignoring all of the bad advise out there will definitely yield results. There are plenty of weight loss gimmicks begging for your money but good old fashioned commitment to exercise and proper diet remain the best weight loss strategy.