Have you ever read so much conflicting information about weight loss that you don’t know what works and what doesn’t? We’re going to over common weight loss myths and fun facts about weight loss to help you make informed decisions about losing weight.
There’s always someone around every corner trying to sell quick weight loss stuff like detox teas or some unsustainable diet plans that will take you nowhere. If you click on a link, you might even meet an enlightened Karen who will tell you to stay away from lifting weights because, alas, you may one day wake up and find that you have turned into an incredible hulk lookalike. Everyone has their own opinion about something because they heard that Jane heard that Mary said that it helped her lose 20 pounds in two weeks!
The misinformation about weight loss is wild and, if you are new to the scene and want to start living a healthy lifestyle, it will almost feel like weight loss is a complicated business.
One of the common fitness myths is that you can target a specific rea and lose fat in that spot. The truth is, no matter how hard you try, you will not lose belly fat by drinking skinny teas or doing that 30 abs challenge. It takes more than that to get rid of belly fat, just as it takes more than giving up carbs to shed pounds. Let’s get into it and debunk some of the biggest weight loss myths you are likely to come across as you try to diet and exercise.
Common weight loss myths and fun facts about weight loss
Weight loss myth #1: you need to detox to lose weight
Detox cleanses and diets have taken the world by storm but not in a good way. While we all want to think that guzzling unlimited glasses of green smoothies will make us super skinny or clean our insides at the end of the day, detoxing actually does more damage than you can imagine.
First of all, besides the fact that detoxing does not in any way help you lose fat, it also does nothing to cleanse you. This is because -wait for it- your body does not need your extra help to detox. There’re these two healthy organs called the liver and a pair of kidneys that does the cleansing. There’s no need for you to gulp copious amounts of vegetable or juice cleanses in the hopes of helping the liver do its job. Gasp!
If your body had the number of toxins that would warrant a detox, you probably would be dead before you finished blending the vegetables.
According to nutritionist and wellness expert Desi Horsman, Juice fasts and other crash diets do not provide enough nutrients even though they appear to have health benefits. Detox cleanses often release toxins from tissues such as fat cells and deposit them into other parts of the body, including the brain, ultimately causing more damage. This means that the 10 or 20 pounds you end up losing at the end of the program is, in fact, muscle and not fat as intended.
You can read more on how your system works to detoxify and what you need to do instead in this article: dangers of detoxing and why you don’t need to detox.
Weight loss myth #2: You can lose belly fat by doing stomach exercises only
If there is any weight loss question that is asked so often, it is this- how to lose belly fat. There is no end to variations of this question- people want to know how they can lose belly fat in one week, month and even overnight.
The fun fact is that you can’t lose belly fat by doing those never-ending flat tummy challenges and exercises. You can’t spot-reduce fat because it never works that way. Targeting a specific area during exercise will not reduce the amount of fat in that place because your body is by no means wired to listen to you give it instructions that today it will lose fat on the tummy, then next week thighs and, so on.
The body decides where to burn fat first, not you. The fact is that you will have to lose overall body fat before you can start seeing specific changes. The only thing targeted exercises such as ab challenges do is strengthen the muscle group beneath the fat layer. When you have less overall body fat, your abs will pop without even doing extra ab workouts.
There are lots of things that work together to deliver a flat tummy. To get washboard abs, you have to keep your stress levels low and drink plenty of water. In addition, you have to eat fewer calories than you burn, as well as perform cardio and ab work, at least 5 days a week.
Weight loss myth #3: Carbs are bad for you
Do you know what most people do when they are trying to lose weight? They ditch carbs because they believed that carbs are bad for them. If you asked why they feel carbs are the enemy, 90% of the time, their answer will not make any sense. Few people who have some explanation believe that carbs turn into sugar, and sugar makes you fat. But there is more to carbs, and not all carbs are bad for you.
Here’s what you must know about carbs.
Carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet and are needed as a source of energy and the proper functioning of the brain and muscles. There are three types of carbs – fiber, sugar and starch.
Sugars are simple carbs that cause a spike in blood sugar levels. These types of carbs are definitely not good for you and should always be avoided.
The effect of sugar on the body is that it will give you a rush of energy shortly after eating and a crash afterwards. You will feel sluggish and hungry after the buzz and probably crave more sugar. If your diet consists mainly of simple carbs, you will be caught up in a cycle and gain weight.
You must avoid foods with added sugars including most breakfast cereals, canned fruits, yogurt, biscuits, fruit juices and soda, and chocolate.
Starch is a good source of carbs because, unlike sugar, it is complex and does not cause massive spikes in blood sugar levels, as they are digested slower than sugar. Some of the sources of starch include rice, pasta, potatoes, beans, lentils and bread.
Fiber is a complex carbohydrate that is not broken down into sugar by the body. A fiber-rich diet will help you stay full for longer because your body cannot digest fiber. While plant-based foods are the best sources of fiber, whole-wheat breakfast cereals and bread are also good. You can get fiber from beans, chickpeas, oats, brown rice, quinoa, and whole-wheat pasta.
So how much carbs should you include in your diet?
Science says that you should not be afraid of carbs. According to a study by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, a moderate carb diet is much healthier than a low carb one. People eating a moderate amount of carbohydrates were found to have lower mortality rates over a 25-year period than those who typically ate low-carb meals.
Fitness myth #4: Lifting weights makes women bulky
This myth gets really personal because I have so many people tell me that I will start looking like a man if I continue lifting weights. It drives me nuts whenever I hear this. I have learned to either tune out or change the subject because I cannot scream loud enough that women do not have testosterone to look like the incredible hulk. But now that I have a platform to clearly explain that lifting weights does not make females bulky, allow me to get started!
Fun facts about weight loss and weight lifting
Lifting weights will not make a woman huge or gross. If you have seen a woman who lifts weights and looks very muscular, it is because she has specifically trained over the years to for that kind of physique. She did not just wake up one day after lifting heavy weights and look ‘bulky’. Building noticeable muscle takes significant effort, time (years) and specific nutrition.
Most women that are afraid of heavy weights usually say they just want to look ‘toned’, so they start doing endless reps with 2lbs of those cute pink and purple weights. What they do not understand, however, is that ‘toned’ look is a result of strength training.
Several studies have been conducted to prove the benefits of women lifting weights and debunk the fitness myths around the topic. If women trained naturally without steroid hormones, it is unlikely they will turn into Ms Olympia. In a ground-breaking paper published in the NSCA Journal, multiple studies have cited that weight training in women causes “a reduction in fat weight, an increase in lean weight and either no change or only a slight increase in total body weight.”
You can read more here on the benefits of lifting weights for women.
Bret Contreras, who is considered an expert on glute training has conducted studies on weightlifting and written very informative material, including the book, Strong Curves: A Woman’s Guide to Building a Better Butt and Body. The book includes weight training plans and further discusses what women will ultimately achieve when they lift weights.
Weight loss myth #5: You need to go on a strict diet to lose weight
Dieting basically requires that you follow a calorie-restricted eating and eat way fewer calories than your body actually needs. But in truth, you do not need to go on a miserable diet to lose weight. Diets fail and most of them are built on short-term goals, thus it becomes hard to continue eating like that after you have lost the weight. When this happens, you gain all the weight back because your calories are no longer restricted.
If your goal is to lose weight and permanently keep it off, you need to change your lifestyle not go on a 6 week, 12 week or 2-week strict diet that tells you to eat this and not that.
It is simple mathematics when it comes to weight loss. You will lose weight if you burn more calories than you take in. If you eat less calories than your body needs, you will lose weight. If you consume more calories than your body burns, you will gain weight. If you eat the same amount of calories that your body burns, then you will maintain weight.
Eating less calories than you burn= weight loss
Eating more calories than you burn = weight gain
Eating the same amount of calories as your body burns = weight maintenance
It is much healthier and sustainable to make lifestyle changes that will easily fit into your everyday life. This way, you will easily get off the hamster wheel of yo-yo dieting.
Essential reading: how to lose weight fast naturally and permanently
Final thoughts on weight loss myths
Weight loss is easy if you follow the simple steps. People only complicate it because they want shortcuts and end up following the wrong advice.
Misinformation is rife in the fitness industry. Next time your co-worker wants you to join in the New Year detox challenge, explain what the kidneys do for them.
Next time someone at the gym tells you not to lift heavy, and that you just need a bit of toning, tell them muscles do not ‘tone’. Muscles are either strong or weak, and they do not go from saggy to firm and vice versa.
Smile and gently explain that an increase in muscle tissue results from strength training. Performing a million reps with light weights day in and day out will really not get you that ‘toned’ look. Lifting heavy weights and eating protein-rich meals is where it is at.
Next time you try to talk yourself into spending endless hours on the treadmill or looking for the secret to a flat tummy, you will remember that that is a complete waste of time because you cannot spot reduce fat.
You will also remember that you can do all the crunches in the world in a bid to get abs, but the fat in that area will not budge until you start training all your muscle groups in full and eat fewer calories than you burn.