The 5 Most Common (And BS) Myths About Weight Loss
Between social media, print media and general conversation, there are a whole lot of myths out there regarding weight loss. We thought it was time to bust a few of the most common ones.
1. Just eat less and move more!
Seriously... this is the one that is almost guaranteed to get me on my soapbox! If you are following a health professional on social media and they say this with no further explanations around it then UNFOLLOW them now - they have no idea what they are talking about.
If I’m brutally honest I actually find this statement insulting. If it was that simple wouldn’t we have all done it by now? We aren’t stupid, and if the key to weight loss was this basic then there would be no one overweight who didn’t want to be. Of course, sometimes this theory works for some genetically-specific individuals, but it is not true for everyone. There are so many factors at play with weight loss - hormones, biochemistry, emotions – just to name a few. Our bodies are very adept at putting on weight as we are still fundamentally those cavemen who don’t know when they will eat next. For the same reason, our body will fight losing weight every step of the way, because we are just not designed to do it easily. It’s part of our survival mechanism. So, no - eating less and moving more won't do s**t in most instances, except make you hangry.
2. Carbs will make you fat
First it was fat, then it was carbs. Nope, carbs are not the devil. I sincerely love the low-carb high-fat ketogenic movement because it has really helped bring fat out into the spotlight and force its acceptance into the nutrition world - but I do fear that people take it too far. Avoiding sweet potato and carrot because of its carb content? In my opinion, that’s a bit imbalanced. This movement was always supposed to be about those PROCESSED carbs (which could more accurately be crowned the devil) like refined sugar, pasta, crackers, white bread, fast food, and deep fried foods that are crumbed.
Natural, whole grains are not in the same category as these processed carbs. Wheat is not my grain of choice but I do enjoy brown rice, quinoa (technically a seed), buckwheat (not at all a wheat) and oats. Just make sure it’s a whole grain, not the wholegrain that is often advertised (important side note – Australian food regs state that a manufacturer can call a product wholegrain if it has the three parts of the grain in the product, it does not have to be intact. Natural medicine would say a wholegrain is one where you can see the whole grain intact). We are all individual – I know some people who would fall in a heap if you took away their oats and brown rice, and I know other people that don’t thrive on grains at all. There is no universal law, and it really does come down to body-types and your current state of health.
3. Fat will make you fat
This one has just about been kicked to the curb – yeeehaaa! Fat was demonised in the 80’s and 90’s and a bit into the early 2000’s due to its perceived links to heart disease. Fortunately, there have been a number of studies over the course of the last decade that have shown this link to be incorrect.
Fat is vitally important in humans. It’s the basis of many of our hormones and our brain consists of 60% fat. The great thing about fat is that it helps you to feel full because it is slower to break down. Studies have categorically shown that removing fat from the diet and replacing it with carbohydrates has resulted in adverse health outcomes. Again though, I would say that every person is individual – some people do really well on a high fat diet but others do better on a medium fat diet. The best types of fats are the ones that occur naturally. Be wary of liquid fats that have not been cold pressed - and I would definitely favour some oils over others (more about that to come!).
4. Eat more protein
Sorry body builders, look away now. Realistically, this is one macronutrient that most of us in the western world actually do get enough of. Generally, I find in clinic the greatest thing missing in diets is usually vegetables, followed by fat. Yep, protein does keep you full because of the way it breaks down, but you don’t need huge amounts of it under normal circumstances. A steak on a plate is probably too much. Just a small amount each time you eat is usually enough.
Vegans and vegetarians may need to be more conscious of supplementing with protein, as do people who engage in intense workouts daily, but the rest of us do fine.
On a side note, there is a myth floating around that too much protein can damage your kidneys. Provided you do not have a kidney disease this has not been proven in subsequent studies to be the case. Kidney function adjusts to the increase in protein. But, like I said before, every body's body is different!
5. Everything will be better when I lose weight
I’ve lost count of the number of people that I have sat next to in clinic who have told me, “Everything will be great if I could just lose…..”. No, it won’t.
Weight loss is unlikely to improve your relationship. Weight loss is not going to improve your self-esteem if you already dislike yourself. It’s unlikely to improve your job prospects (unless you want to be a postie because I believe there is a weight limit to be able to ride the postie bikes). Yes, eating food that will nourish you better and moving your body will absolutely make you feel better for many psychological and physiological reasons - but be very clear on the distinction between weight loss and engaging in habits that are good for your body’s function.
Important side note – if you have low self-esteem then there is huge value in putting some work into repairing your relationship with yourself. Multiple studies support that the higher your self-esteem the more likely you are to engage in habits that are healthy for your body.
The key message here is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss. We are so much more than just flesh, blood and bone - we are not machines. You can’t punch in the same problem and the same answers comes back. Maybe that makes it tricky but that is also the joy of who we are; all different.
If you'd like to know more about weight loss and how I work my magic with weight management, you can read some more of my blogs here - and you can always get in touch with me at the clinic.
Wendy Burke (Nutritionist, Naturopath, Personal Trainer and all round lover of food)