Diet is difficult. Apparently, there are fewer ways to achieve your weight loss goals than to fail the process. Even more confusing, the internet is full of conflicting weight loss information that makes figuring out how to get rid of those unwanted love handles even more difficult.
To keep the noise out, we asked Holly Heasman, Nutritionist at SHREDDY, to shed light on some of the most popular diet facts and, if necessary, expose them to help you lose weight and move stubborn fat off stubborn fat in a meaningful way.
While we can’t tell you what to believe, we can take a deeper look at the science behind some of these diet myths and so-called facts. Either way, it is always a good idea to boost your metabolism or just improve your slow metabolism. Whether through exercise or a change in diet, it’s up to you.
Without further ado, here are some of the most common myths, with a sideline to the truth.
1. If you skip meals, you save calories
At a very basic level, this statement is not untrue. As the saying goes, “A penny saved is a penny earned,” much like a calorie not consumed is a calorie lost. However, your body needs the energy to function. So, if you skip too many meals, you will feel lethargic, emptied, with confused thoughts, and in a bad mood.
Hunger is a strong feeling. When you’re hungry, your brain goes into clean-up mode and recruits resources from elsewhere in the body to aid your foraging efforts.
“These are the moments when we make ‘impulsive’ decisions and opt for the simple ‘grab-and-go’ options that are usually lower in nutrients,” says Holly. By dinner, you’ll likely starve to death. Then we risk overeating and enjoying too much. “
Holly’s advice? Plan your meals, prepare portion sizes, and provide your body with adequate supplies throughout the day.
(Image credit: Getty Images)
2. Snacking is bad for you
Not all snacks were created equal. Some are bad – no one would ever recommend eating a Cadbury Double Decker when someone is hungry – but there are plenty of healthy snacks to choose from and consume in moderation that will positively affect your metabolism.
“Nuts are a great source of fiber, protein, and healthy essential fats,” recommends Holly. “We also have fruits, vegetables, seeds, yogurt, and homemade sweet treats – the list of healthy snacks is really long!”
The same advice Holly gave above applies here too: you will get hungry all day, and better to be prepared than to reach for naughty snacks. Having a protein bar in your pocket just in case is a good idea: These are low in sugar, high in fiber and protein, perfect for snacking.
The hardcore fans may consider carrying protein powder around to whisk it up on the go. Or, you know, fruits for energy. Berries are low in calories and sugar.
“Not everyone will need or want snacks, but if they do, that’s fine! Go for something that makes the body feel good, inside and out, ”suggests Holly.
3. You have to lock the cupboards after 7pm
Research has shown that we are generally more likely to overeat in the evening (as opposed to any other time of the day). For some people it is therefore an advantage to have a “time window” for feeding time and to stop the tendency to overconsume.
Following an intermittent fasting-eating pattern can help you navigate this window of time more effectively. As long as you don’t consume calories outside of the feeding window, you can start fasting whenever you want, even after 7 p.m.
For example, you can have your last meal of the day at 8 p.m., sleep through most of the 16-hour fasting window, and start eating again at 12 p.m. Or finish eating at 4:00 p.m. and have your first meal at 8:00 a.m. You can adjust the fasting however you like to better integrate it into your lifestyle.
“Some people benefit from feeding windows, others don’t, it depends on individual preferences,” says Holly.
(Image credit: Getty Images)
4. Eating carbohydrates leads to weight gain
Carbohydrates are often portrayed as the source of all evil in weight loss circles. However, this macronutrient is more nuanced and versatile than you might think.
“Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy,” says Holly. “When we eat a carbohydrate, the body breaks it down into glucose. The body then has two priorities – using that glucose as a source of energy now, or storing it as fat for later use. As long as you plan your meals properly and don’t overeat, carbohydrates shouldn’t harm your body. “
Holly’s advice? Choose whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and legumes instead of bread, pasta, and white rice as your main sources of carbohydrates.
5. You have to say goodbye to goodies
Did you notice that the day you start a new diet, you are feeling the most hungry that you have ever been in your life? Most of the time we want what we can’t have. Even with the best intentions in the world, temptation will prevail. Treats aren’t bad when eaten in moderation and in reasonable portions.
“Even if you are working towards a specific goal, you can still consider the foods that bring you joy, even if they aren’t the most nutritious in the world,” suggests Holly. “Plan ahead, enjoy these sweet, sweet treats and focus “on eating fresh and balanced meals for the rest of the day. As long as you don’t keep eating one meal at a time, you won’t be derailing your diet. “
(Image credit: Getty Images)
6. You can lose weight in a targeted manner
We’ve already covered this topic here at T3 (read all about it here), but essentially, you can’t spot cut fat in your body. Fat can build up more easily in certain areas of your body, but you can’t just remove it from there. This is not how fat loss works.
“When the body loses fat, it loses everywhere, no matter what diet you follow,” says Holly. Remember, this is muscle definition, not fat loss! “
Increased muscle mass can also help increase your basal metabolic rate, or BMR for short, which is essential for long-term weight loss. Cardio might help you create the energy deficit you need to lose weight, but once you stop running five hours a day, the weight will begin to return, especially if you are eating “normally” again.
As you have more muscle, the BMR increases which increases your caloric needs so you can eat without putting the weight back on. You shouldn’t go crazy with your diet, however, but a higher BMR can help you lose weight more easily.
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