Weight loss myths


Many of us also believe we can lose weight with a quick fix 3 weeks before our summer holidays. Sadly, we can not. One of the reasons we believe this though is that there are certain myths surrounding weight loss, slimming and dieting that cloud our better judgment and the advice given to us by thoses in the know - namely GP's, dietitians, personal trainers etc.

Separating fact from fiction
First the science bit. One pound of body fat is equal to 3500 excess calories. Thus to drop a stone in weight (14 lb.) we must burn 49 000 extra calories! This can be done, but certainly not in 1, 2 or even 3 weeks.

To sensibly burn excess weight we should look to strip off between 1 and 2 lb. of body fat per week or the equivalent to 3500 - 7000 extra calories.

Myth #1 - Low intensity exercise burns more fat
Many people believe that low intensity exercise is a better fat burner than high intensity exercise. Why? Well, studies have shown that the body burns a great percentage of calories from fats during easy aerobic sessions. However, in order to burn excess body fat and to lose weight, we must burn excess calories. And lots of them. The harder the exercise the more calories we burn. Period.

So say someone (person A) exercises for 30 mins at level 4 on a gym bike and their friend (person B) exercises at level 7 for the same amount of time, who's burnt the great percentage of body fat. That's right the person A. However, who will have worked the hardest and burnt the most calories. Right again, person B. Now the important question. Who will lose weight the quickest, all other aspects being equal? The answer, person B.

Myth #2 - Fat free means no calories
Some foods contain very little or no fat. But all foods contain calories. Just because a food suggests that the fat content is low - less than 5% - this may not mean that the food itself is good for you or low in calories.

e.g. Low fat snack foods are usually loaded with extra sugar - this compensates for a lack of taste left behind when the fat is either extracted or not added. Extra sugar may mean that snacks which are low in fat are actual calorie dense.

Tip: Read food labels. Find out which foods are both low in fat and low in sugar.

Myth #3 - We should eliminate all fats
Don't fall into the trap of thinking that to lose weight we should eliminate all fats from our diet. The reason this is sometimes suggested is that for every gram of fat we consume, we eat more than twice the amount of calories found in protein and carbohydrates of the same weight. So on face value if you eliminate fats you will dramatically reduce the number of calories within your diet.

However, some fats within our diets are very important. They help deliver essential vitamins into the body (vitamins A, D, E and K), and fat also delays the onset of hunger - a good tool to employ during a diet.

That said, fats should make up somewhere in the region of 15 - 25 % of our calorie intake at each meal time.

Myth #4 - We can focus on just losing fat from problem areas
Spot reduction is an exercise technique whereby we train a problem area (for example the stomach) in order to lose fat solely from this area. In reality this technique cannot work.

During weight loss, excess body fat is stripped from all over the body, not just areas we train. Exercising specific areas of the body can certainly help tone certain muscle groups, but performing hundreds of ab crunches may not mean that you lose fat from this area in double quick time.

Additional information
How many calories do I need?
The best exercises to burn lots of calories
Buy weight loss products
Why diets don't work
Diet trials - Weight watchers, Atkins diet, Slim Fast



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