3 Common Myths About Weight Loss
A weight loss journey often means navigating a sea of information, some of which is misleading or downright inaccurate. Myths surrounding weight loss can perpetuate unrealistic expectations and lead you to adopt ineffective or even harmful practices. In this blog post, I debunk three common myths about weight loss to help you separate fact from fiction on your path to a healthier lifestyle.
Myth: Crash Diets Guarantee Quick Results
A crash diet involves significantly reducing calorie intake to lose weight rapidly, often restricting daily caloric consumption to between 800 and 1,200 calories. Crash diets may promise rapid weight loss, but the effect is generally short-lived results, detrimental to your health. Quick fixes usually involve severe calorie restriction, leading to muscle loss and a slowed metabolism. One study – “Rapid Weight Loss vs. Slow Weight Loss: Which is More Effective on Body Composition and Metabolic Risk Factors?” – found that both rapid weight loss and slow weight loss reduce waist circumference, hip circumference, total body water, body fat mass, resting metabolic rate and lean body mass (the weight of everything in your body except for fat). However, the slow weight loss group saw increased reduction in waist and hip circumference, fat mass and percentage of body fat. Contrasting to the rapid weight loss group, who experienced a greater decrease in total body water, lean body mass, fat free mass and resting metabolic rate.
Sustainable weight loss requires a balanced, “lifestyle change” approach. When you shift your focus to eating healthily, considering the benefits of the foods you eat, whilst taking part in enjoyable exercise regularly, you create the ideal set up for a healthy mind and body.
Myth: Spot Reduction Is Possible
Reality: Many believe that targeting specific areas through exercises like crunches will magically melt away fat from those regions. However, spot reduction is a myth. A systemic review paper concluded that “Localized muscle training had no effect on localised adipose tissue depots, i.e., there was no spot reduction, regardless of the characteristics of the population and of the exercise program.”
It’s not uncommon to hear someone talk about turning muscle into fat. This is an impossible phenomenon! Fat loss occurs uniformly across the body. Therefore, the best approach is to strengthen your body through regular exercise, whilst eating nutritiously, to reduce unnecessary, excess weight. As the fat disappears, your muscles will appear.
Muscle burns calories, therefore, the more you have, the more calories you burn without having to do everything. It makes sense to increase your muscle mass. however, this isn’t foolproof and be another one of your myths about weight loss. Muscle doesn’t burn that many calories to lose huge amounts of excess fat with a small amount of muscle and a sedentary existence.
Myth: Carbohydrates Are the Enemy
Reality: Carbohydrates are unfairly demonised and misunderstood in weight loss discussions. They are a crucial source of energy and part of a balanced diet.
People often don’t know the connection between carbohydrates and sugar. Sugar and carbohydrates are essentially the same thing, organic compounds consisting of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen that provide energy in the form of glucose. The main difference is that sugar is soluble in water and has a sweet taste, while carbohydrates include starches and fibre that are not soluble and do not taste sweet.
Glucose affects every system in your body, it’s favourite source of energy used by every cell. You give your body glucose by eating two types of food, starchy foods (pasta, bread, rice, potatoes) and sweet sugary foods (fruit, cookies, cakes etc). It’s important to note that your body doesn’t do anything different with either type of glucose input. The reaction to a glucose shot from a factory processed cookie high in refined sugar is the same as the glucose shot from potatoes, rice, fruit, or vegetables.
You need energy and therefore glucose (although those on a keto diet would disagree). However, the way nature intended you to get glucose was from plants. Historically, when you consumed something sweet, it was fruit or vegetables. Nature created fruit differently to how we see it in the supermarket today. There were many more seeds and fibrous parts. These act like a sponge, slowing the glucose release into the body, preventing a huge glucose spike. They were also less abundant, and therefore your ancestors ate them rarely. Over the years, farmers have modified fruit and veg, so it’s extra sweet and juicy.
Just as too much water kills a plant, too much glucose harms us. Glucose spikes cause an increase in insulin. Insulin grabs the extra glucose and stores it away in the liver, muscles, and fat cells. When there are high insulin levels in the body, the fat cells become a one-way street. Stuff can go in, but it cannot come out. The more insulin in your body, the harder it is to lose any fat. So, to reduce fat on your body, you must reduce insulin levels – which means stabilising sugar. Jessie Inchauspé, the Glucose Goddess, has a book which suggests ten easy hacks to stabilise your blood sugar levels to avoid the negative effects of sugar spikes.
Hypnotherapy for Weight Loss
Just like crash diets, hypnotherapy will not magic the fat away, leaving you with your ideal image forever more. Neither will it make anything happen rapidly. However, you will learn ways to take control of your thoughts and behaviours so you can lead a healthier lifestyle. If necessary, your therapist will help you process any previous experiences that may be the source of your weight struggles, so they no longer affect you in the same way. You’ll also find an increase in your motivation for activity and commitment to live a health-conscious lifestyle.
Ashtary-Larky D, Ghanavati M, Lamuchi-Deli N, Payami SA, Alavi-Rad S, Boustaninejad M, Afrisham R, Abbasnezhad A, Alipour M. Rapid Weight Loss vs. Slow Weight Loss: Which is More Effective on Body Composition and Metabolic Risk Factors? Int J Endocrinol Metab. 2017 May 17;15(3):e13249. doi: 10.5812/ijem.13249. PMID: 29201070; PMCID: PMC5702468.
Ramirez-Campillo R, Andrade DC, Clemente FM, Afonso J, Pérez-Castilla A, Gentil P. A proposed model to test the hypothesis of exercise-induced localized fat reduction (spot reduction), including a systematic review with meta-analysis. Human Movement. 2022;23(3):1-14. doi:10.5114/hm.2022.110373.