Five Weight Loss Myths – Busted

Cheering woman standing on scale

With the brand-new year, motivation is strong to lose weight and get in shape. In that quest, it is easy to get caught up with the plethora of confusing weight-loss myths. Which diet should you follow? Which gym tactics yield the best results? Which supplements can do what they say? Here is the low down on some common weight loss myths:

1. No Pain/No Gain

This is a common myth promoted among hardcore weight lifters. When exercising for the first time, or increasing your weight or duration, some next-day discomfort is normal. Minor fatigue and tenderness are signs that you worked out your muscles. However pushing yourself too hard, or using weights that are too heavy, can lead to injuries (sore joints, muscle/tendon tears, back ache) and put you out of commission. It’s better to gradually increase intensity, duration and weight. Also, allow yourself adequate time to recover between workouts.

2. Fasting Leads to Fast Results

Fasting has been done for centuries as part of religious practices. In more recent times, it’s been used to facilitate weight loss or flush toxins from the body. There are various protocols. Some allow only water or fluids and others allow a small amount of raw foods. A short-term medically supervised fast for a day or two is unlikely to cause any serious problems, but fasting for any longer in attempt to lose weight can be dangerous and counterproductive to weight loss. Drastically reducing your calorie intake will cause weight loss initially, primarily due to water loss. However it can also lead to loss of muscle mass and this can slow down your metabolism so you will burn calories more slowly. Other side effects include fatigue, weakness, headache, dizziness and dehydration. Once you start eating again the weight will return quickly. And if your metabolism has slowed down that will make your subsequent weight-loss efforts even harder.

3. A Calorie is a Calorie

In the past it was believed that calories, whether from protein, fat or carbohydrate were treated the same in the body. To lose weight, one simply had to reduce calorie intake. There is mounting evidence that this is not the case. There is a difference in how calories are treated in our body. For example, both protein and carbohydrates provide 4 calories per gram. However, the body uses twice as much energy to digest and metabolize protein compared to carbohydrates. Even among carbohydrates there is a great difference in how they are handled by the body. Sugar and high glycemic (quick-release) carbs trigger the release of insulin which promotes fat storage. New research also links high-sugar diets to cancer, heart disease and many other serious health problems. For better weight-loss success choose lean proteins, healthy fats and slow-release (low GI) carbohydrates. Avoid sugar as much as possible.

4. The Scale Tells the Story

Body weight, as measured on a scale, has traditionally been the easiest and most common way to gauge success. While it is important to know your body weight, body composition (percentage of body fat) is a more important indicator of health and disease risk, especially when it comes to diabetes and heart disease risk. Body fat percentage can be checked through various methods at a fitness center or health clinic. There are also home testing machines available.

5. Over-the-Counter Diet Pills are Safe

It is a common misconception that products that can be purchased over-the-counter (OTC) are safe and without concern. Although OTC products do not require a prescription, they can be associated with many side effects, precautions and drug interactions. Some weight-loss pills, loaded with caffeine and other stimulants, may be particularly risky. While these products rev up your metabolism temporarily, they can cause numerous side effects such as racing heart, insomnia and elevated blood pressure. Instead, look for safer strategies to support your weight-loss efforts, such as supplementing with fiber. Not only will it help with weight loss but it offers several side benefits. Galactomannan-based fibers, such as Sunfiber, help to curb appetite by making you feel fuller without blocking your gut (as is the case with other sugar- or starch-based fibers). It reduces cravings, and plays a role in managing blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Sunfiber is easy on the digestive tract, and provides the benefits without the gas and bloating