AUG – 15: COVER STORY
Here are the 8 most common or problematic myths and misconceptions related to weight loss identified by Choice, Australia after talking to practising dietitians. In order to set the record straight, the facts are also presented.
1. The less you eat, the more weight youâ€™ll lose
The human body has evolved superbly to conserve as much energy as possible. When starvation is apparent, the metabolism slows down and youâ€™ll have replaced muscle with fat. The net result will be that youâ€™ll gain more weight.
Bottom line: Reduce your daily calorie intake, but steer clear of detox and other drastic weight-loss regimes.
2. Eating five or six small meals a day is better
Eating more frequently helps keep hunger at bay, and also means youâ€™re less likely to overeat at mealtimes. But eating decent-sized meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, without snacking in between will also work.
Bottom line: It doesnâ€™t matter how many times a day you eat â€“ just make sure you donâ€™t consume more energy than your body requires.
3. Carbohydrates are fattening
Not necessarily â€“ although, as with protein, fat or alcohol, too much can be fattening. Carbohydrates are your bodyâ€™s preferred source of energy, and the only source of energy for your brain. Avoid highly refined carbohydrates such as sugar and white flour.
Bottom line: Carbohydrates are important in a balanced diet – fruit, vegetables and wholegrain cereals are nutritious sources.
4. Fat is bad
Fat makes you feel satiated and we need some fat in our diet to absorb nutrients. However, fat is very calorie-dense, and too much promotes weight gain. But choosing low-fat or reduced-fat processed foods wonâ€™t necessarily help with weight loss, because the fat may be replaced with sugar for flavour.
Bottom line: Cutting down on saturated and trans fats, while including small amounts of good fats in your diet, provides valuable nutrients, satiety and enjoyment of food.
5. Aerobic exercise is better than resistance training
Aerobic exercise, such as jogging, tends to burn more energy than weight-lifting as youâ€™re doing it. However, resistance or weight training results in greater muscle mass, which boosts your metabolism as muscle burns more energy than fat.
Bottom line: Combine aerobic activity and resistance training.
6. Some foods or drinks promote weight loss
Some foods supposedly help with weight loss due to metabolic effects such as green tea, chilli and caffeine. Again, the overall effect is insignificant. Donâ€™t believe the hype around foods that allegedly stop fat being absorbed, such as lemon juice or grapefruit
Bottom line: There are no magic weight-loss foods or drinks.
7. Cut out all chocolate, ice-cream, biscuits and chips
Depriving yourself of pleasurable foods is often the downfall of weight-loss programs; when you donâ€™t have it, you may crave it even more.
Bottom line: Occasionally eating small amounts of your favourite treats has an important psychological advantage in weight control.
8. You donâ€™t have to cut down on food to lose weight
To lose half a kilogram of fat per week, youâ€™d need to burn an extra 600 calories per day for which about 7-9 km of brisk walking or 6-8 km jogging would be required. Such exertion may make you tired for the rest of the day or sleep longer at night, and may also make you hungrier, so youâ€™ll offset some of the â€˜good workâ€™ by eating or resting more than usual.
Bottom line: To lose weight, you need a combination of healthy eating and physical activity â€“ in other words, eat less and exercise more.