Losing weight is a struggle for millions of people. There are so many misconceptions on weight loss that it’s hard to determine fact from fiction. From using diet pills to experimenting with the next diet craze that will change your life, people struggle on a daily basis to keep their weight in check. All this information can get very confusing and you are not alone.
As a personal trainer, one of my jobs is to ensure that my clients lose weight who need to but in a timely and healthy manner. The biggest challenge I find in helping others is convincing them to erase everything they’ve learned and start with a clean slate. So let’s put some myths to rest and start with a new perspective.
1. Carbs make you put on weight.
Before we talk about carbohydrates, you must first understand the difference between simple and complex carbs. Simple carbohydrates consist of sugars that naturally occur or are artificially found in foods such as pop, jam, honey, and candy. Complex carbohydrates or dietary starch are often high in fiber and are commonly found in whole plant foods and, therefore, are also often high in vitamins and minerals. Foods such as whole grains, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta, whole-grain breads, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, lentils, and various green vegetables are all examples of complex carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates are given a bad wrap when it comes to eating them because most people are not aware of the benefits they can bring to your health. If you are consuming carbohydrates that don’t have any nutrient value such as sugary food, white rice, white bread, pastries, etc., then all you are doing is consuming empty calories that are high in fat and sugar. On the other end of the spectrum, complex carbohydrates and fruit are providing us with energy as well as all the essential nutrients and vitamins to make us healthier individuals.
So the issue is not about the amount of carbohydrates, instead, it’s about the type of carbohydrates you are consuming. Carbohydrates is the ‘gas’ that fuels our bodies, not just for working out but for everyday activities. When you hear of people who are on ‘low-carb’ diets, then tend to get tired very quickly and have little or no energy to get through the day.
2. Radical exercise regime is the best way to lose weight.
If you’re one of those people who work out to offset the junk food you will be consuming later on that day or an alcoholic drink, I’ve got bad new for you. I see this problem too often where many people spend countless hours in the gym to exercise to cancel out the calories they had the previous day to celebrate a job well done or as a self-reward. While exercise is important for our overall health, how much and what you eat will have a larger impact on your weight and waistline.
So let’s look at it this way. There are three main components to energy expenditure. One is our is basal metabolic rate, the second is the energy to break down our food, and the third is energy that is used during physical exercise. We have no control over our basal metabolic rate and this is the largest energy user. The amount of energy required to digest food and used during physical exercise is much less. It is estimated that our basal metabolic rate is responsible for about 60-80% of our total energy expenditure and about 10% for digesting food. So this leaves about a 10-30% expenditure for physical exercise which is not a lot. If you work out hard and for long and then replace it with high fat, high caloric food, you are basically cancelling out all the hard work you just did. The type of food you consume is so important in weight loss, not the amount of exercise.
3. Foods labelled ‘low fat’ or ‘calorie-reduced’ are a healthy choice.
Be cautious when you purchase processed foods. Many people are fooled when they see the terms ‘low in fat’ or ‘calorie reduced’. These are terms used by the companies representing the products to lure people in to buying their products. They know that many people are watching their waistlines and are always looking for short cuts to eat less calories while enjoying their favourite foods. The problem with this is first of all, the products you are most likely purchasing are not healthy to begin with. Secondly, the terms are very misleading as many processed foods contain high levels of sugar.
I coach many of my clients who don’t want to give up processed foods completely, to read the labels of what they are purchasing. If sugar is one the first three ingredients, I advise them to put the product back or look for an alternative. Many products that are labelled ‘fat free’ or calorie reduced’ often contain additional thickeners, artificial flavours or other harmful ingredients in order to compensate for the loss of flavour. What you should be really looking for is how much sugar, fat, calories, and sodium are present in a product. If a food is truly healthy, it wouldn’t need a label. You don’t see a label on fruit or vegetables. If you can, skip the packaged and proceeded foods altogether and go whole.
4. Cutting out meals and snacks will help you lose weight.
Cutting out meals or snacks isn’t the problem when it comes to losing weight, it’s the type of food you are consuming. There is the thought process that if you cut calories, the weight will come off (maybe short-term) but essentially your body cannot perform exercise or maintain itself if the right types of foods are not being consumed. I highly encourage my clients (especially if there are training for a sport specific event) to eat more frequent meals or snack in between meals. The difference is that they are eating foods that are low in calories and high in nutrients. Snacking on foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes instead of processed or refined foods. If you are consuming those ‘high protein’ bars as a snack or meal replacement, start looking at the label to see what you are consuming. Also, don’t get into the habit of eating these bars as replacement to whole foods. You will be missing out on essential vitamins and minerals.
5. There is a diet that works for everyone.
If your one of those people who have tried every single diet and still can’t lose weight, there’s a reason why diets don’t work. Some people feel desperate so they will try anything to keep the weight off. Some diets will offer some short-term weight loss but in the long run, dieting never works. Generally, within a year, the majority of people end up gaining all their weight back if not more.
Adapting a different mindset on how and what you eat is the key to weight loss success. Your goal needs to become that of being healthy and not just the number you see on the scale. It’s important to some to track their success through weight loss but the key to taking it off and keeping it off is about a healthier and fitter lifestyle for life. This comes from not just exercising, but eating whole and plant base foods, adopting a positive mindset, and living with little or no stress.
6. Late night meals lead to weight gain
Not eating late at night is a popular weight loss strategy for many. The thought process behind it is that you’re not active so why should you eat. Sounds logical, right? It comes down to the fact that it’s not just the amount of calories you are consuming, but the type of foods you are eating. If you’re one of those people who likes to sit on the couch at night in front of the television and snack on junk food, then this is a habit that you want to change in order to see weight loss results. I suggest eating a later meal about 2 hours prior to going to bed that consists of whole grains with some legumes with vegetables (low in calories and high in fibre). This type of meal will not only keep you feeling full but it is easily digested. It will also keep you from mindless junk food snacking which is the culprit to the weight gain.
Science has changed significantly in the past decade and what we thought before about losing weight is not what we think. Our focus in the past has been simply placed on fitness and not enough on nutrition and mindset when it comes to losing weight. This is not to say that we shouldn’t work out as we should as it’s of vital importance to our overall health but what science is telling us now is that our focus needs to shift towards eating clean, whole and plant base foods. Many people including myself and Art, have experienced many benefits of a whole foods, plant base lifestyle. I’m not here to tell people to adapt this eating lifestyle, but instead share the benefits and the scientific facts of how it can benefit your health and weight loss goals.
At the end of the day, it’s your choice what you want to feed your body. If your one of those people who have tried every diet and spend countless hours in the gym and see no results, then maybe it’s time to change your lifestyle and think about long-term overall health. The key to success is not willpower, but instead small changes that you make to your daily routine to live a longer, healthier life.
Eat clean & live green!
Your Compassionate Coach,