If the number of gym attendees is any indication, one can safely assume that there are lots of people who have made a commitment to finally lose weight this year. And even if a lot of people fall off the bus as a new year progresses, getting fit and healthy by means of exercise is still one of the best ways of losing weight – together with a thorough reassessment of one’s eating habits, of course.
If you are on a mission to lose weight, take heed of these common myths about weight loss.
1. A calorie is a calorie is a calorie
Yes, all calories are equal, but some calories are more equal than others. Calories and kilojoules (although they are not the same thing) are both measures of energy.
We get the calories we need for physical activity and life in general from the food we consume, but different calorie sources may have a different effect on your weight – especially if you are aiming to lose some – and there is a significant difference between fat calories, protein calories and carbohydrate calories.
For example, if you replace fat and carb calories with protein calories, it may have a discernable effect on your appetite and cravings, while also optimising the function of some weight-regulating hormones.
2. Supplements can help you to lose weight
Despite the enormous industry that is the weight-loss business – and the dramatic claims it makes about losing weight fast – at best, supplements can have a moderate effect on weight loss.
For the most part, the weight loss that arises after a person has started taking supplements is a placebo effect.
While additional supplements like calcium are good if you are doing weight-bearing exercise as a part of your fitness plan, the only scientifically proven effective weight-loss method is a regulated, balanced diet and regular exercise.
3. Willpower is the most crucial element if you want to lose weight
Obesity is a complex disorder with many factors that may influence a person’s ability to lose weight – it certainly isn’t just about willpower. Genetics, hormonal, psychological and medical conditions, and environmental factors all have an effect on the way a person gains and loses weight.
The fact is that some people (and these are usually people who suffer from obesity) have a significantly harder time losing weight, and their willpower is definitely not the determining factor, but just one of many things that may make it easier to reach weight-loss goals.
4. Carbohydrates make you fat
Low-carb diets do have a dramatic effect on weight loss in many people, but that doesn’t mean that carbs automatically make a person overweight. Refined carbs like processed and refined sugars and grains are stripped of fibre, vitamins and minerals, and this makes them empty calories that are digested quickly, but leave you hungry again very soon after.
Avoiding refined carbs like white flour and table sugar may contribute to weight loss, but avoiding whole foods that are high in carbs (like quinoa, bananas, beetroot, oats, kidney beans and chickpeas) may deprive you of the calories you need to be able to get through a normal day.
Especially if you are undertaking an exercise programme to lose weight, these calories will help to provide the energy you need to sustain the extra physical activity.
5. Diet foods will help you to lose weight
The market for so-called “diet” foods is enormous, but it is often made up of foods that do not, in fact, promote weight loss at all. On the contrary, “diet” foods are often filled with refined sugar.
Do not meekly believe marketers when they say something is healthy on the label of food. A closer look at the ingredients inside a particular food or beverage will give you a better indication of what you are consuming, but ultimately, a healthy diet is one that is balanced and consists of all the vitamins and minerals that your body actually needs.