If there was one piece of advice we could give people trying to lose weight, it would be this. Don't believe everything that you read on the internet. Because, whilst the web does contain heaps of valuable information that can definitely help you achieve your health and fitness goals, it can sometimes be difficult to separate the fact from the fiction.
In today's world, anyone can set up a health and fitness blog. But the vast majority of people that do are untrained and unqualified, so the information they are putting out there may not be true. Quite the contrary - it may, in fact, be sabotaging your health and fitness goals.
In this article we're going to take a look at some of the most common myths that are ruining people's attempts to lose weight all over the planet. How many of these have you fallen for?
#1 - You should eat 'little and often' in order to lose weight.
One of the biggest myths in the world of nutrition is that we should be eating 'little and often' if we want to burn fat or build muscle. At some point in the early 1990s, the fitness community decided that the statutory 3 meals per day was too mainstream, and began to pedal the theory that 6 small meals, taken every 2 - 3 hours, was the best way to eat.
The theory was that if you go longer than 3 hours without eating, your metabolism will shut down and you will begin storing fat. Despite no evidence ever suggesting this to be the truth, this myth spread like wildfire - and as a result, people began forcing themselves to eat to the sound of an alarm clock, whether they were hungry or not.
We are not cows. We are not supposed to 'graze' all day. Eating every 2 hours won't force your body to build muscle or burn fat; it will only serve to ruin your social life and wreak havoc with your digestive system. As long as you are consuming enough of the right foods, the time that you eat them is up to you. For most people, especially those trying to lose weight, 3 square meals per day is plenty.
#2 - Eating fat makes you fat
For years, fat has been portrayed as the number one dietary demon. To lose weight, we were told to avoid it like the plague - and despite no evidence ever proving a correlation between fat intake and weight gain, for some reason, we listened.
To make it clear, eating fat does not make you fat. Sure, eating too much of any nutrient will cause weight gain, but to vilify fat as the root of all evil couldn't be further from the truth.
In fact, numerous fats have been clinically proven to enhance weight loss, most notably the medium chain triglycerides found in coconut oil and omega 3 found in oily fish. Dietary fat is essential in the production of hormones, most notably testosterone, and provides an excellent source of energy for the body. High quality fats such as avocados, coconut oil (try our coconut oil, Tagaloa), nuts, grass fed beef, whole eggs and wild salmon should be a staple of any healthy diet.
#3 - You have to do 'cardio' if you want to lose weight.
How many people have you come across in the gym that pound mile after mile on the treadmill, only to make little to no progress? Whilst long sessions of steady state cardio have long been advised as an aide to weight loss, there is a much simpler way. If you want to lose weight quickly, start sprinting.
Whilst traditional steady state cardio relies almost entirely on glucose as a fuel source, when we perform anaerobic exercises such as sprinting, our body switches to a different energy system called adenosine triphosphate (ATP for short). The production of ATP encourages an 'afterburner' response, whereby your body burns fat to recover the oxygen expenditure used during the intense exercise. In short, sprinting shifts your body into a fat burning state.
Furthermore, long and intense sessions of cardio have been shown to generate significant spikes in the stress hormone cortisol, which actually promotes fat storage. So ditch the treadmill and hit those hills to get lean in record time.
#4 - It's all about calories in vs calories out
A healthy diet is about far more than mathematics. But, thanks to the calorie counters of the diet food industry, we've started to look at food as numbers rather than actual food. We're told that, in order to lose weight, all we have to do is consume fewer calories than we burn.
Sounds simple, doesn't it?
If only it was that easy! You see, whilst calories measure the energy content of any given food, this is not to say that our bodies process them in the same way. Think how easy it is to eat 2000 calories of pizza and ice cream. Now try doing the same with chicken breast, sweet potato and broccoli!
Calories in processed food are devoid of the important nutrients that help regulate when we are hungry and when we are satisfied. If we focus too much on the numbers and not enough on the nutrients, we put ourselves on a fast track to inflammation and a messed up hormonal profile; which, ironically, are two of the biggest contributors to weight gain.
Yes, the quantity of calories do matter. But pay close attention to the quality if you're serious about losing your spare tyre.
#5- 'Gluten Free' means 'Good for you'
We're firm believers that most people would feel and perform much better without gluten in their diet. Whilst many of us are not 'allergic' in the medical sense, the vast majority of people feel much healthier when they eliminate gluten. This may not even be down to the gluten itself - rather the junk foods that it comes packaged in, such as bread, pasta, cakes, doughnuts and pizza.
But the biggest mistake people make when cutting gluten from their diet is falling into the 'gluten free' health trap. In 2015, when people see 'gluten free' on a packet, they read 'good for you.' And as a result, they carry on eating the bread, pasta, cakes, doughnuts and pizza; but the gluten free versions.
Remember - gluten free junk food is still junk food. In fact, many gluten free alternatives are actually even worse than their traditional counterparts, as the manufacturers throw in a bunch of artificial ingredients to try and replace the gluten!
Instead of falling for the gluten free hype, swap your processed foods for whole foods. You'll feel much better, and it will be one of the most important steps you can take to lose weight.
#6 - It's all about diet and exercise
Perhaps the most common weight loss mistake of all is to focus exclusively on diet and exercise. Because, although these are both undoubtedly important, there are numerous other factors you should be paying attention to:
- Sleep quality: Countless studies have linked poor sleep to weight gain. Lack of sleep increases the production of the hormone ghrelin, which helps to regulate our appetite, and the production of cortisol, which promotes weight gain. Shoot for a minimum of 7 (preferably 8) hours each night to ensure you are well rested.
- Stress levels: If you don't have your stress levels under control, you can't expect to lose weight. Much like a lack of sleep (which is also a stressor to the body), chronic stress manifests itself in excess cortisol, decreased testosterone, and consequently, increased weight. Play sports, spend time with friends, and do everything you can to manage your stress levels.
- Time outdoors: Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is extremely important to managing your weight. Time outside also helps to regulate your circadian rhythm, which promotes healthy sleep, and encourages the production of feel good hormones to fight back against pesky cortisol. Try and get a minimum of 15 minutes of sunlight exposure daily.
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