Have you ever tried to lose weight on your own and still had no results to show for it after a while? If that was ever the case, you may have been misguided. With the vast amount of information floating around the internet, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a solid piece of advice and some pointless gibberish. Therefore, we thought it’d be a good idea to make a list of the most popular misconceptions that might be actually keeping you from achieving your weight-loss goals. Here it is.
1. Eating less (a LOT less)
What actually happens if you don’t eat enough, is your body goes into ‘starvation mode’, which is where your metabolism slows down, because your body/brain is thinking, “Hold on – I’m not getting enough food here, so I’ll slow things down a bit”. This means your body burns fewer calories, and holds onto more fat, for energy resources.
Your focus should be on following a balanced, healthy diet that’s specially tailored to your needs. And then, sticking with it for the long run. It’s what you eat that’s important, as well as the ability to impose limits upon yourself. The amount of food intake should follow your weight-loss process. Going too far, too soon, is often counter-productive. But before making any drastic changes to your eating habits, it’s always a good idea to get advice from a nutritionist.
2. All cardio and no strength
The importance of cardio for fat burning is clearly beyond doubt. However, focusing on cardio alone will not only make your training sessions boring, it will also prevent you from losing calories faster. The reason for this is that strength training has the aim of building muscle, which in turn allows you to boost your metabolic rate and therefore burn more fat. The more muscle you have, the more calories your body uses to keep those muscles going. In addition to that, certain strength-building routines can even burn more calories than cardio, by themselves.
3. Doing away with all your treats at once
If you’re about to go on a diet, there are certain foods that you may want to eliminate completely from your meals in the long run *cough* chocolate *cough*. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have to cut them all out at once. That’s quite hard and, if you fail, you’re probably set for an epic rebound.
Now, you’ve got to remember you’re in this for the long run. This isn’t actually a diet – it’s a lifestyle change. Try and get rid of the most troublesome foods on your menu first. Yes, that one that has a special place in your heart, your fridge and your stomach. I’ll be so much easier to stick to a change if it’s gradual, but of course consistent. Suddenly deciding to stop eating any sugary foods at once, is setting yourself up for failure.
4. There must be worse things than carbs, but I’ve never seen any of them
Lately, many diets have made us believe carbs are the root of all evil. This is, fortunately, is just not true.
It’s important that we understand carbohydrates are necessary nutrients our body processes in order to obtain energy. Nonetheless, not all carbs are created equal. Highly-processed carbs (like the ones you can find in sweets and white sugar) can be digested fast, raising your blood sugar, and carrying little to no benefits. On the other hand, carbs present in whole foods (such as brown rice) take time to be broken down, and they come along with vitamins, fiber and other nutrients commonly present in those ailments. These slow burning carbohydrates also help you achieve the feeling of fullness after meals and help to control blood sugar levels.
The smart thing to do, then, would be to reduce the intake of the first kind of carbs (refined) while still consuming an appropriate amount of the latter, complex carbs.
5. Working out on an empty stomach
This one has been going around for a while now. Is it really true that doing exercise on an empty stomach allows you to burn more fat, as the body would have to use carbs to get its energy from?
Short answer: No. Actually, what your body does is burn some muscle first, as it doesn’t really want to get rid of its fat reserves. Particularly, during an intense workout. So, you’ll actually be losing muscle while trying to build muscle. Not good. Also, you could potentially expose yourself to a hypoglycemic episode, as your blood sugar levels go down.
A healthier option is to consume small amounts of low-glycemic carbs, such as porridge oats in the morning. This kind of carbohydrate still provides your body with energy, but it’s released slowly, thus avoiding the dreaded sugar spikes.
6. Building a whole diet around a single food
Many fad diets tend to focus heavily on just one or two “miraculous” foods. The avocado diet, anyone? Perhaps, the quinoa diet? The truth is, none of these diets last, and for good reason. First of all, no one in their right mind would ever be able to make a single food 90% of his diet for weeks (let alone months). Secondly, no food by itself can render the body the vast amount of proteins, carbs, fats, vitamins, fiber and other nutrients it needs to remain fit. That’s why healthy, time-tested diets (like the Mediterranean diet), always include a wide variety of foods in their program.