Weight Loss Myths & Truths

Myth #1: I can lose weight as long as I’m exercising.

Think about it. Which one is harder to do – eating 300 calories or burning 300 calories through exercise? Weight loss is 80% nutrition, 20% fitness. You could spend hours in the gym working your butt off but ruin all of your efforts if you aren’t mindful of what you’re eating. You simply can’t out-exercise a bad diet.

Myth #2: Weight loss supplements are an effective way to lose weight.

I laugh every time Sensa commercials come on TV. Sprinkling some mysterious substance on your burger and french fries will not do anything to help you lose weight. These products are not regulated by the FDA, which means the companies that distribute these supplements don’t have to tell you what is in their product, they are able to make false claims about their product and the product could potentially be dangerous to take. These companies are only looking to take advantage of people who are desperate to lose weight. The one thing these supplements do is drain your wallet, so use the money you would be spending on supplements and buy a gym membership or fresh, whole foods.

Myth #3: The more I cut calories, the more weight I’ll lose.

Weight loss happens when you create a calorie deficit, meaning you burn more calories than you consume. Creating a deficit that is too large can do more harm than good and can sabotage your effort to lose weight. Habitually under-eating and/or over-exercising can cause your metabolism to slow down and can increase your risk for an array of health issues ranging from eating disorders to heart complications. It may seem counterproductive, but the more you exercise, the more you need to eat.

Myth #4: Women should lift light weights at high repetitions to avoid bulking up.

Many women seem to think that lifting heavy weights will cause them to “bulk up” and look like scary body builders. However, women don’t have enough testosterone to get them to a bulky state. Women SHOULD lift heavier weights because it has a number of benefits. Research shows it can help burn fat and calories, even after you finish your strength training session; it will make you look leaner (not bulky!), it will help fight osteoporosis, and it can help prevent injury Lifting light weights, I’m talking light enough to easily do 20+ repetitions with little to no muscle fatigue, won’t do much to build strength. When you’re not building strength, you’re not going to get that lean physique. A lot of people don’t know how heavy they should be lifting. As a general rule of thumb, your muscles should literally feel exhausted after completing your last repetition. This should be the last repetition you can complete with good form. For heavy lifting, it should be between 6 and 10 reps. Anything below 6 reps, you might want to try lifting a little lighter. Anything higher than 10, time to increase your intensity.

Myth #5: I will always be hungry when I’m dieting.

The trick to not being hungry throughout the day is to choose nutrient dense foods at your mealtimes – vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, lean proteins – that won’t leave you hungry half an hour later. Fast food, refined sugar, white flour, chips, cake, cookies, crackers, etc. won’t do much to fill you up as they’re merely empty calories, and you’re likely to be hungry again very shortly. You can easily overeat on empty calories, but try to overeat on fruits and vegetables. It’s almost impossible!

Myth #6: Since 1 pound is equal to 3,500 calories, I need to burn 3,500 calories through exercise each week to lose 1 pound.

To lose weight, you must create a calorie deficit. You do this by reducing the amount of calories you eat and through physical exercise, everyday activities (cleaning, washing dishes, grocery shopping, etc.) and your Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR, which is the amount your body burns at rest. My BMR is about 1,310. This is the amount of calories my body burns AT REST. Using the Harris Benedict Equation, I can multiply my BMR by 1.375 because of my activity level (“lightly active,” although I think I’m moderately active), which brings my daily calorie needs to 1,801. (http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/) Basically, I have to eat around 1,800 calories to maintain my weight. Realistic, healthy weight loss is about one pound per week. (Remember that creating a calorie deficit too large can sabotage your weight loss efforts.) One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories, which means you need to create a weekly calorie deficit of 3,500 calories. 3,500 calories divided by 7 days a week is a 500 calorie deficit per day. With my physical activity level already accounted for, I would have to eat around 1,300 calories to lose one pound of fat each week. Keep in mind that this math may seem simple enough, and you could do ALL of the right things and still not lose weight. Our bodies can be really stubborn. Pain in the butt? I think so. But the good news is that you don’t have to burn 3,500 calories through exercise each week.

Myth #7: To reduce belly fat, I should do ab exercises, such as crunches.

You can’t spot reduce fat, especially with exercises that “target” those specific areas. Unfortunately, your body decides where the fat comes off. You can do all the crunches you want but they won’t do anything to help reduce your belly fat. If you continue to exercise and eat a healthy, balanced diet and within your calorie ranges, pretty soon the fat will come off. Maybe not as quickly or where you want it to come off, but it will happen.

Myth #8: Healthy food is too expensive.

“I can’t afford to eat healthy, so that’s why I still eat fast food.” WHAT? You, my friend, are kidding yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this, and every time I get super irritated. Sure, if you buy out-of-season organic produce, it’s going to be expensive! You have to be smart about it. Buy what is in season and/or what’s on sale. And don’t always settle for grocery store produce! I’m lucky to be surrounded by tons of farms who were selling huge butternut squash for $1 each this past fall. At the grocery store, they were $1 per POUND. Support your local farmers by going to farmer’s markets and buying seasonal produce there. When you’re at the grocery store, use coupons when you can for products you buy. Oatmeal (the big containers of old-fashioned oats, not instant), dry black beans and rice can go a long way and can be prepared in a number of different ways. I’m going to elaborate on this at a later date and breakdown how much each food is costing me per serving, which I hope will convince all of the non-believers out there that eating healthy does NOT have to be expensive.

Myth #9: Detoxes and cleanses can help jump start my weight loss.

There is no medical evidence that suggests detoxes or cleanses removes toxins from the body. Our bodies naturally remove any toxins. The best “detox” you can do for your body is to just stop eating the junk food! There is no reason to do a cleanse or detox. Just start eating whole, clean foods, exercise and drink water. Simple as that!

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