People often struggle to lose weight because of the sheer amount of contradictory diet and exercise information available. Most of that information is misleading. One diet demands the elimination of saturated fats. Another suggests completely cutting carbohydrates. A third says to eat anything and everything as long as you work out enough to burn more calories than you've consumed. These are prime examples of the overarching myth of dieting for healthy weight loss.
To help you achieve your weight loss (or weight management) goals this year, we want to shed light on a few common weight loss misunderstandings. Here are two weight loss myths that have been "debunked," yet still do not help people lose weight:
Myth No. 1
Starches—bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, corn, etc.—are fattening and should be limited when trying to lose weight.
Trite Advice: According to the Weight-control Information Network (WIN), starches are only fattening "when eaten in large portion sizes or when covered with high-fat toppings like butter, sour cream, or mayonnaise. Foods high in starch (also called complex carbohydrates) are an important source of energy for your body."
The Problem: A perfect example of confusing information, this myth is actually not a myth at all. And the explanation is not 100 percent incorrect either. Starches are low in fat and calories, but only in their natural state. This presents a twofold problem for people counting calories: First, low-fat foods are less filling and may lead to cravings shortly after eating. Second, many starches are rarely found in their natural state. Potatoes are often fried into greasy, trans-fat-filled side dishes, and genetically modified corn is refined into thousands of byproducts. Your body needs carbohydrates, but starches offer little value compared to fresh broccoli, spinach or kale.
Recommendation: Avoid starches to prevent the overproduction of the hormones insulin and leptin. In your bloodstream, starches convert to sugars. When starches and refined carbohydrates are eaten too frequently, your body overproduces—and may become resistant to—insulin. Insulin resistance can cause the storage of fat. The buildup of fat triggers a similar chain reaction resulting in a resistance to the hormone leptin, which tells the body to burn fat as fuel. Leptin resistance makes sustainable, healthy weight loss nearly impossible. By cutting out starches and other sugars, you can correct hormonal imbalances and even reduce sweet cravings.
Myth No. 2
As long as you burn enough calories through exercise, you can eat whatever you want—including fast food—for healthy weight loss.
Trite Advice: According to the WIN, "To lose weight, you need to use more calories than you eat. It is possible to eat any kind of food you want and lose weight. You need to limit the number of calories you eat every day and/or increase your daily physical activity. Portion control is the key. Try eating smaller amounts of food and choosing foods that are low in calories."
The Problem: At the most elementary level, weight loss occurs when you burn more calories than you consume. This type of so-called diet encourages people to eat foods loaded with trans fats and unnecessary sugars. IN addition to causing harmful hormonal imbalances, refined carbohydrates and foods high in sugar often equates to eating foods with little real nutritional value. While portion control is essential, foods lacking protein and fat are far less filling. This makes controlling portions very difficult.
Recommendation: Eat for nutritional value. Foods that are smaller in size but dense with fiber, vitamins and minerals can help you feel fuller without a surplus of calories. For instance, adding a single tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil—which is loaded with healthy fats—to your salad can fill you up as much as burger and fries, but without nearly as many unhealthy calories. Also, instead of sugar, try using a zero-calorie sweetener like stevia to satisfy your sweet tooth without spiking your blood sugar. No matter your favorite foods, these little changes can help you lose weight without sacrificing the taste of a good, hearty meal.
Remember, your diet is simply what you eat. A group of things, not a single action. Similarly, healthy weight loss is a result of a group of factors—not a single action. To learn more about how to fuel your body for weight loss this New Year, contact Dr. Nick Barnes at www.212DegreesOfWellness.com.