Diet myths debunked.
When it comes to advice on how to lose weight, there is a great deal of misinformation. Does fat make you fat? How much exercise do I need to shave off a few pounds each week? It turns out that much of the common diet wisdom is actually making you unhealthy.
Myth #1: Calories count so keep them in check.
Not all calories are created equal! Your body uses calories differently depending on their composition. So 300 calories of cookies won’t interact in your body in the same way as 300 calories of chicken. The key is to be eating the right kinds of calories in the right ratios to turn your body into a fat burning machine. When your body is in this fat burning state, also known as nutritional ketosis, you can consume enough of the right calories to fend off cravings, satiate hunger and still lose weight.
Myth #2: Eating fat makes you fat.
Again, the key is the kind of fat you are eating. Healthy fats, like the ones found in olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nuts, meats, seafood, and eggs, butter and other dairy products, actually work to help you lose weight by helping you feel full and helping you build a varied, sustainable and delicious dietary lifestyle while also keeping carbs – especially the most unhealthy ones – at a minimum.
Myth #3: You can eat what you want as long as you burn it off with exercise.
Ironically, exercise can short circuit your weight loss by increasing your appetite and even lowering your metabolic rate. Other studies show that people do not lose the amount of weight from exercise predicted by a simplistic calories in, calories out view of the world. Depending on your parents (aka your genetics) the numbers of pounds lost per calories burned exercising all too often simply don’t add up.
Regular exercise, however, paired with a nutrient dense low carb, protein and healthy fats diet, will keep your mind in good spirits and your body in good health. Said another way, exercise is a great wellness tool even if it’s not a great weight loss tool.
Still not convinced? Even if the calories in, calories out numbers did add up, it would take a lot more exercise than you think to burn off those empty calories. For example, a 150 pound person would have to walk from Palo Alto to San Francisco (approximately 35 miles) to “burn off” 1 pound. A 200 calorie candy bar requires 25 minutes of running at a solid pace (think 12 minute miles).
In a food environment where 80% of the 600,000 items in the grocery store have added sugar, all too often at levels equivalent to those in a candy bar, that’s a problem and brings us back to the beginning. Focus on foods consumed to lose weight as you can’t outrun your mouth in the modern age.
Myth #4: Protein shakes will help me lose weight.
It’s better to grab a protein shake than a bag of pretzels if you’re in a pinch, but in general it’s smarter to eat your calories than drink your calories. Prepare real food and serve it up on a plate. That simple action will cue your body and mind into the fact that you’re eating a meal and will help to satisfy you until the next snack or meal.
Myth #5: Going Paleo will take off the pounds.
Going Paleo has many benefits relative to the typical modern American diet. But finetuning the optimal diet for you as an individual requires a personalized approach. A nutrient dense low carb diet paired with moderate amounts of protein and healthy fats will put your body in the optimal state for weight loss and metabolic health. But too much protein will inhibit fat burning and sabotage your progress and well-being. In the end, each person is unique, and your carbohydrate sensitivity and metabolic rate will determine how many grams of carbohydrates and protein you can consume each day and still lose weight and optimize your health and well-being. For the average man or woman, that’s typically between 60 to 100 grams of protein a day, a far cry from a “high protein’ diet. Ultimately, success is about finding the right balance of protein, carbs, and healthy fats.
Myth #6: Eliminate snacks to lose weight.
Fuel your weight loss by keeping your metabolism up. Eat every few hours including breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack. Regular fuel in nutrient ratios of carbs and protein that continues to promote rather than inhibit a state of high fat burning boosts metabolism, creates a steady flow of fuel to your body and brain, and tees you up to prevent overeating in the evening.