The 6 Weight Loss Myths, Part 1 of 2

My Weight Management class is wrapping up and we’re beginning sports nutrition, but I wanted to share some good information I found in one of the books we read. The book is called UltraMetabolism and is written by Mark Hyman, MD. He talks about ways we can work with our bodies through food, supplements and exercise to actually burn more fat. He also talks about the concept of nutrigenomics, which is how food “talks” to or interacts with our genes, and how this affects our weight. According to Dr. Hyman, the best way to lose weight and keep it off is to rebalance and stabilize metabolism.

He came up with 7 weight loss myths, and I used his information to come up with 6. These are adapted from the book and are slightly different, based on what I believe will be effective for clients to read and relate to. Of course, this is just one book – one doctor’s theory on how people can lose weight. As we all know, there are thousands of weight loss books out there and some people can get caught up in the latest weight loss fad diet and lose sight of their own individual health and needs. So, I’m not saying you should go out and buy UltraMetabolism and use it to lose weight. If I thought one book could solve everyone’s nutrition problems, I wouldn’t be studying to become a nutrition therapist who focuses on the individuality of each person! But, I did like Dr. Hyman’s weight loss myths, because I think they are a good foundation for those wishing to lose weight.

#1 The Starvation Myth: Eat less, exercise more, and then we will lose weight

Many people see someone who is overweight and they think, “that person is lazy” or “that person has no discipline and indulges too often”. However, weight loss is not all about calories in minus calories out. There are so many components to how our metabolism functions, including where our calories are coming from, what nutritional deficiencies or excesses we may have, any hormonal imbalances we are experiencing, and much more. Calorie restriction actually causes the body to think it is starving, which sets of chemical processes in the brain that tell us to eat more food. We have a part of our brain that is wired for survival, and this part of the brain will respond to starvation without any of our control. A person absolutely must eat more calories than their resting metabolic rate, or the body will perceive starvation and immediately slow the metabolism down.

#2 The Calorie Myth: All calories are created equal

For some, this is a hard one to grasp, but it’s the truth. It’s the type, not the amount, of calories you consume that is important. Starving yourself all day so you can enjoy three pieces of chocolate cake at your friend’s birthday party isn’t helping your body at all, and can actually lead to weight gain. Your typical three square meals may be equal in calories to that chocolate cake, but the cake will only contain a tiny fraction of the nutrients you’d get from eating real food. And those nutrients are what we need to burn fat. On the other hand, if you had eaten three balanced, whole-food meals and then enjoyed a piece of cake, your body would have the nutrients it needs to metabolize the cake and burn the fat.

Another thing to know about certain types of calories: food (or, calories) that enters our bloodstream quickly will promote weight gain, no matter what else we’ve eaten that day. This includes foods like white bread, white pasta, cookies, cakes, sugary juices or any sodas, etc. However, food (calories) that enters our bloodstream slowly promotes weight loss. Foods speak to our genes and have control over how our metabolism will work.

#3 The Fat Myth: Eating fat makes us fat

In his book, Dr. Hyman talks about the American Paradox: over the last 40 years, national fat consumption has dropped from 42% to 34% of total calories, but obesity and high BMIs have risen significantly. Translation? Fat does not make us fat, it helps us burn fat! We just have to make sure we’re eating the proper fats. There are different types of fat, and they each interact with our genes in a different way. Some turn on our genes for weight gain, and others for weight loss. For example, essential omega-3 fats enhance metabolism and promote weight loss, whereas trans fats found in processed foods cause weight gain, impair metabolism and lead to inflammation.

Don’t be afraid to consume more healthy fats!

Tomorrow I’ll wrap up with the last three weight loss myths.

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