It’s March and I know everyone is busting out their dusty yoga mat and running shoes to try and get that beach-ready-bod for the summer. Although it is always good to care about your health and wanting to get into shape, many people believe that shortcuts and supplements are a quick and easy way to get results fast. And don’t we all want a flat stomach and tight booty? Even so, these magazine exercise programs, commercials for extreme diets and promotions for supplements are far from the answer. Not only do most of them not work, but they spread destructive lies to the public about losing weight and being “healthy.” Here are just a few lies that this multi-million dollar industry wants you to believe.
1. Skip breakfast, save the calories
This is 100% the opposite of what you should do. Haven’t you ever heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? That isn’t just a saying. It’s true. Statistically, people who eat breakfast consistently tend to weigh less than those who don’t. There are many other factors, however, that makes this fact not a complete science. Although breakfast gets your body off to a good calorie-burning start, that doesn’t necessarily mean that French toast is a beneficial breakfast for weight loss. Try to stick with proteins like eggs, and vitamin-rich fruits. It will get your metabolism started right when you wake up, allowing your body to burn more calories throughout the day.
2. Never eat after 6 p.m.
This is another lie that most diet programs tell you so they don’t have to send you more meals (yeah I’m talking to you, Atkins). The truth is there is no magic time that we should stop eating. Although many studies have proven that late night snacking and eating right before bed attributes to weight gain, there is no conclusive evidence that shows eating an apple at 10 p.m. will make you gain three pounds overnight. The general rule is to find healthy snack options, especially once the sun goes down.
3. Fat-free means gut-free
There have been so many documentaries on the misconceptions of food labels in the U.S., but this has to be one of the biggest lies weight loss pursuers will ever hear. If something unhealthy like a brownie says it’s fat free that does not mean that you’re eating a “healthier” brownie. In reality, it means you are eating something with no fat that was replaced with twice as many carbs and almost always three times as much sugar to make it taste like ones that have the fat in them. Don’t do it! Although fats can be bad for you, that does not mean you should substitute it with sugar, a far more dangerous substance for weight loss and health in general. Stick to regular brownies at a regulated portion.
4. Fruit makes you gain weight
It really upsets me when I hear this because I know several weight loss programs used to put strawberries and ice cream in the same category of nutrition. I ask you though: do you know of anyone who ate too many strawberries and gained weight as a result? Yeah, I didn’t think so. The average American eats less than three servings of fruit or vegetables each day. Study after study shows that the more fresh produce you eat, the less you'll weigh—and the better you'll feel.
5. Carbs make you fat
This all comes down to not educating people on nutrition. Most weight loss diets use jargon that most Americans think they know, but don’t really understand. Sure, cutting carbs is extremely important in any diet, but what has carbs? Pizza, ice cream, chips and, oh yeah, broccoli. Choose the right carbs and eat others in moderation. Moderation, not elimination is the key to any healthy diet.
6. Only cutting calories matters
NO. NO. NO. Although counting calories is a very interesting and enlightening exercise, that does not mean people should become aware of their calorie count just to cut it. If you are able to do that, all power to you, but the average American takes this concept and just eats less junk which results in, you guessed it, very little results. Try to be more mindful of the quality of the calories you eat. Instead of cutting out dessert, have strawberries and cool whip instead of an ice cream sundae. Again, don’t deprive yourself like countless programs tell you to do. Your body won’t eat your fat away.
1. Pre-workout is good for you
This one scares me on a personal level because many of my friends use pre-workout. The number one rule of anyone trying to effectively lose weight and keep it off would be to keep as many synthetic chemicals out of your body as possible. Pre-workout has chemicals like caffeine that may get you amped up for the gym, but may also put some serious strain on your body. Stick with a nutritious snack, like a granola bar or yogurt with fruit before a workout. This will transfer to energy for that run much safer than powder.
2. I need fat burning supplements if I ever want to lose pesky cellulite
Supplements are just that—supplements to smart eating. There are no miracle pills, potions, creams or even shoes that help you grow muscle or incinerate fat. The right supplement may help, but certainly not in the long term. Training hard and eating right are truly the only ways to get in shape and healthy.
3. Weight loss protein powder is effective and safe
There’s no such thing as a weight loss protein powder. Protein powders are supplements. They should not take the place of real foods. While convenient, powders cannot compare to the vitamin, mineral and antioxidant properties of whole foods. Feel free to use them, but don’t expect weight loss miracles.
1. Cardio is the only thing that matters
It’s the age-old myth that getting on a treadmill every day for thirty minutes will help you lose thirty pounds in three months. From the perspective of someone who is training for a half marathon, this is an incredibly unrealistic belief for several reasons. First, running is not something you can do every day. It is really bad on your knees, shins and ankles, no matter how good it is for your heart. Second, running is a science. If you run on a treadmill at the same pace for the same amount of time every day, your body adapts and refuses to change or form muscle. And third, the most common form of running—long distance—actually may be detrimental to someone’s weight loss goals since this running could result in the loss of muscle. Muscle eats fat. So pick up some dumbbells and start lifting. Muscle weight will be your best friend on this journey.
2. All-in-one machines provide fast and effective results
I hope that most people see the ridiculousness of those videos and understand that they are funny to watch because they don’t actually work. Machines that can “do it all” feed into the common saying that “I just don’t have time to work out.” I can promise you, though, doing a few push-ups and curl-ups, followed by a quick run is far more beneficial to your weight loss than the elliptical/stepper/ab cruncher contraption they are selling on QVC, for one very important reason: Push ups don’t sit in the basement covered in dust.
3. If I exercise hard enough, I can eat whatever I want
Although I am a firm believer in rewarding yourself after a hard workout, that does not mean that you should eat three times the normal amount of calories you consume in a day. This goes back to the myth that exercise is the only thing that matters with weight loss. You always need to eat smart, not just for your weight, but your health.
The biggest lie of them all
1. Fast weight loss is to be expected
TV shows like The Biggest Loser, and dramatic body transformation stories that make headlines perpetuate the idea that you should be able to lose 5 lbs a week or even 30 lbs in a month. This happens, but it is a far cry from the norm. Most people will safely lose between .5-1% of their body mass per week. This will ensure maximal muscle retention while losing body fat.
Do you want the truth? Don’t expect to lose 50 lbs in a couple of months. Real life transformations take time. The dramatic transformations you see can inspire you to make positive change, but they can also discourage you when you don’t get similar results. Be patient. Strive to make continual progress, however small that progress may be.