Weight Loss - The Fiction and the Facts
Many factors affect how our bodies utilize the nutrients and energy from the foods that we eat. Our nutritional choices, exercise habits, sleep pattern and underlying mental, emotional or physical health play an important role in our weight loss goals. The biggest misconception about losing weight is that doing something for a short time will help you to lose weight, as well as keep it off, in the long run. Not getting your facts right can sabotage your relationship with food as well as your exercise regime and the entire weight loss journey.
Here are a few Weight loss Myths and Facts:
1. You must starve yourself to lose weight.
Depriving your body of food increases the risk of overeating at your next meal or of giving in to a craving. Not feeding yourself with sufficient portions can also slow down your metabolism. The result is that, instead of losing weight, you may gain some over time. Successful weight loss involves making small changes that you can stick to consistently and for a long time. Crash diets are unlikely to result in long-term weight loss. It is important to choose a balanced nutrition plan with higher nutrient density, and lower calories, to keep you from feeling famished while aiding in weight loss.
2. Carbs are not good for weight loss.
Calories cause weight gain. Excess carbohydrates are no more fattening than calories from any source. Carbohydrate is one of the important 3 macronutrients that the body needs to function smoothly. It provides the body with fuel for energy. Carbs in whole foods like whole grains, legumes, pulses, vegetables and fruits are nutrient dense and contain a lot of fiber that is good for digestion and weight loss. They should be eaten in the right portions. However carbs in refined foods desserts and sweets are nutritionally poor and calorie dense. They do not aid in weight loss. Be mindful of carbohydrate snacks, such as chips, cookies, biscuits, etc; which lead to weight gain.
3. Diet foods are good for weight loss.
Many of us looking to lose weight intrinsically reach out to packaged foods labelled as diet foods. There is always a halo effect around foods labelled as ‘Diet foods’, ‘Health foods’, ‘Organic’, ‘Sugar free’, ‘Low fat’, ‘Fat free’, ‘No added sugars’, etc. Many of these foods have either excess sugars and artificial sweeteners compensated for fats, excess fats compensated for sugars, artificial flavourings added for taste or excess sodium added, etc. All this is done to make it appealing to the taste buds of the consumers while ripping off the nutrients. To avoid being influenced by the health halo effect, ignore the front cover slogans and images that make foods appear more healthful than they really are. Flip the package over to read the nutrition facts.
4. If you exercise a lot, you can eat anything you want.
Eating high-calorie and nutritionally inadequate foods won't get you the best results for weight loss. Aim for balance: exercise regularly, eat better and have smaller portions, but be sure to eat until you are satisfied. Avoid using exercise as an excuse to eat unhealthy foods that might hinder your results (processed food products high in sugar, fats and sodium). That would only sabotage your weight loss goals. Instead, look for healthy, filling snacks or meals (whole foods like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, etc that help you recover, and aid in whatever fitness goals you have. Always be mindful of your portion size.
5. Fats make you fat.
Your body needs healthy fats to function properly. As long as your calorie intake is within a healthy range (portion size), fat does not make you fat. Healthy fats found in nuts, seeds, eggs, olive oil, fish, etc. are linked to strong immunity, improved cardiovascular functioning, reduced inflammation, and improved brain functioning. Fats are needed to absorb vitamins A, E, D and K from the foods we eat. They boost satiety and keep you full. However, Trans fats found in processed foods need to be avoided as they are harmful for health.
1. Drinking water benefits weight loss.
Water with a little lemon is just that - Water with Lemon; and is often said to boost the metabolism. However, water is essential for a myriad of functions in our body, primarily to help in the optimal functioning of the digestive system. When the digestive system works well and waste is regularly eliminated from our system, it allows our body (often interchanged with metabolism) to function at its best ability. Thus water is often referred to as a cleanser and a metabolism booster. Keeping yourself hydrated also makes exercise easier, as it prevents muscle cramps and keeps the joints lubricated. All of this could contribute to results on the scale.
2. Eating fiber is beneficial for weight loss.
Fiber is an important nutrient that adds bulk to foods and helps in digestion. Eating foods with fiber keeps you feeling full for a longer time, reduces appetite and thereby helps in weight loss. Fiber is also good for keeping the gut healthy and reducing risk of many chronic ailments. Fiber is found in wholegrains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.
3. Sleep is critical for weight loss.
Lack of sleep can impact decision making abilities, lead to stress in the body and also increase appetite, likely due to its effect on hormones that signal hunger and fullness. You could also end up snacking late night and eating larger portion sizes. Quality sleep goes hand-in-hand with proper nutrition and exercise. With proper sleep, you’ll also get more out of your workouts because your body will be able to recover properly.
4. Physical activity is important for weight loss.
Performing consistent physical activity of a duration greater than the basic recommendations for health (150 min/week of moderate-intensity exercise) does appear to be more likely to contribute to weight loss and weight maintenance efforts over the long term. Physical activity is also important for maintaining cardiovascular health and preventing diseases.
5. There are no quick fixes to weight loss.
Weight loss takes time, patience and dedication. Weight loss diets that promise quick and amazing results are often not sustainable and require the ‘dieter’ to eliminate some major components of balanced nutritional intake. As a result, the individual could lose weight quickly, but be unable to sustain that weight loss for long. To keep the weight off for good, you have to adopt a healthy lifestyle. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your favorite foods once in a while. Eating nutritious foods, eating the right portion sizes, physical activity and getting good sleep are all important for weight loss.
There are many things that go into weight loss. Mental, emotional and physical health of the individual goes hand-in-hand with their support system, outlook, goal orientation, life changing events, etc. Each one of us is similar, yet vastly different, and a small step at a time can help us in our weight loss journey to success.
Consulting a qualified dietitian should be the first step.