7 Biggest Weight Loss Myths
I’ve said it time and time again in pretty much every blog post; there is so much bad information out there regarding not only weight loss but fitness and health in general. Some of this information is put out by well intentioned individuals who have heard it, believed and are repeating it in an effort to help. Unfortunately a lot of it comes from big corporate fitness or greedy coaches. Please always stop to consider your information source, their level of knowledge, training, expertise and education or you could be misguided or even worse led to believe things that simply aren’t true. What you believe and feel impacts the choices you make on how you eat so if you’re serious about weight loss, strength gain or if you just want to get healthier please be sure you make these decisions based on indisputable facts. Today let’s discuss 7 of the biggest weight loss myths out there and set the record straight on them.
Carbs make you fat. We have all heard it. Time and time again. This is actually one of the biggest misconceptions of all time. What actually leads to weight gain is eating in a caloric surplus. When eaten carbs, with the exception of fiber, are broken down into glucose. This glucose is the preferred source of energy for your body. When not used this glucose is converted to glycogen and stored in the liver and muscles as a readily available fuel source. When needed(between meals, during exercise, when sleeping) our body converts the glycogen back to glucose to maintain a constant blood sugar level. Many people believe this myth because they have had success eliminating carbs and losing weight. The reasoning for this is an elimination diet will almost always put you into a caloric deficit and the caloric deficit, regardless of how you achieve it, is what causes the weight loss. The key when choosing any kind of meal plan is to think about the big picture and be sure it’s a lifestyle you can maintain so you don’t regain the weight. Bottom line is you can have your carbs and lose weight.
Don’t eat past 7 PM. Current research shows that there is no difference in how the body breaks down calories past 7 PM. For most people the body really doesn’t care when you eat so long as you maintain a caloric deficit. While I don’t recommend eating a large meal before bed because it can disrupt your sleep, there is no reason you can’t have a snack. There is some evidence that people who snack at night tend to over snack. Overeating is what stops the body from losing weight, not the time of day. If you’re often very hungry at night and end up eating over your calorie goals I suggest you look at the rest of your day. Undereating throughout the day is a very common cause of overeating at night. It is worth noting that for advanced athletes and bodybuilders nutrient and meal timing will have an impact. But for the average person on a weight loss journey….go ahead eat that snack or late dinner.
Starving yourself is the fastest way to lose weight. If we were speaking strictly of a quick short term fix with no expectation of lasting results or health then maybe this is true. But that’s not how we do things here at Ryan HowardCoaching. We are here for the long haul. We aren’t just trying to lose weight. We are trying to keep it off for good. We are trying to be the absolute healthiest we can be. So no, starving yourself is actually the slowest way to lose weight. The reason for this is because it very simply leads to a binge and restrict cycle. You may get your results but you’re hungry all the time, very low energy and feel crappy so you will inevitably eat too much and when this happens the weight comes back on. This cycle will repeat as many times as you allow it. What’s worse is that when you do this you aren’t only losing fat you are losing muscle. And with each cycle you lose more muscle and this is how people become what is known as “skinny fat”. Remember lean muscle mass is what allows us to burn more calories at rest allowing us to eat more so fight to hold on to it.
“I have poor genetics”. I’m honestly going to leave the science behind this one for Ryan to talk about. So if you want to know that comment below and he’ll write a short book for you lol. What I am going to say is that your lifestyle choices matter. Your genes play a role in everything. However your genes don’t determine if you are eating in a caloric deficit or if you are consistent with your workouts. Many of the people who tell me they have poor genetics decide not to even try because they believe they won’t be successful. Well “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”-Wayne Gretzsky. So if you let anything determine that you aren’t going to try then yes you will fail. So don’t choose to fail.
“You can spot reduce fat”. Spot reduction is the false belief that working a specific muscle in specific ways will reduce the fat in that area. As stated the only thing that causes fat loss is a caloric deficit and there are no changes that can be made to either your diet or your training that will target fat loss in a specific area. Focus on overall fat loss, prioritize your protein and choose resistance exercises you enjoy.
Healthy food is too expensive. Most often the people who say this are standing in front of me holding a starbucks cup with expensive hair, nails and handbags. Healthy eating really is not any more expensive than a lot of the processed garbage food out there (Ok ramen is still like 99 cents a pack, I’ll give you that one.) Shop at discount stores like Aldi, Lidle and even Walmart. Purchase food in bulk when possible. Keep things simple and buy the staples. Oats, rice, potatoes, grits and beans are all inexpensive carb sources. Veggie and fruit sources can absolutely be from frozen or canned. If using canned look for low sodium and sugar free varieties; and no not all the nutrients are lost in the canning process. You can also purchase extra fresh fruits and vegetables when there's a good sale and freeze them yourself. Frozen meats, canned chicken breast, canned tuna, canned salmon and my personal favorite rotisserie chicken. I use rotisserie chicken that I purchase and shred weekly because it is cheaper and easier than buying and cooking my own chicken and saves so much time on my weekly meal prep.
Starvation mode. Stop. Just stop. Before I go any further here I need you to use some logic and think this through. Basically starvation mode is the false theory that if you eat too little you will stop losing weight. This means that your body would have to store calories you haven’t consumed. On a physiological level this is simply not possible and while it may seem a crude example the easiest way to prove this is that if starvation mode were possible then literally no one would starve. That is unfortunately not the case. There are people starving to death all over the world. No one. Not one person has ever gotten fat because they didn’t eat enough food. If they believe this is true it is because they either overestimating calories burned or underestimating calories consumed. Now this does not in any way mean it's ok to drop calories to low. See bullet point 3. Keep your deficit moderate and your calories as high as possible as long as possible and make adjustments as necessary.
I hope that busting some of these myths makes your weight loss and dieting phase easier for you. I also hope that if any of this made you mad that you take a look at why that might be. Are you leaning into these myths because they are a reason for you not to have to deal with your weight? I know I used to use many of these as my own excuses for not being able to lose weight. When I was finally honest with myself is when I finally achieved lasting weight loss.
If you have any questions, want some clarification or want to talk more please comment, private message or book that call with myself or Ryan you’ve been thinking about. You are the only one who can take the necessary steps to take control of your health but we are certainly here to guide you and make things easier. Reach out. We’d love to help!