Edited by: Kaavya Azad
Content warning: weight
There has always been so much talk around fitness, exercise, weight loss, and weight gain. Now, with the omnipresence of the internet in our lives, all this talk and advice has become easily accessible. There are times when many of us decide to bring about changes in our lifestyle – wanting to become physically active, wanting to lose weight, or wanting to gain weight/muscle. There are, however, many misconceptions regarding fitness and weight that can harm you.
Some of the most commonly found myths are:
1. Eating less food helps weight loss
Starving yourself or drastically reducing the quantity of your food intake has detrimental long term effects. You may lose weight immediately, but you will end up gaining weight in the long run. This is mainly because such an extreme diet is challenging to keep up with. Eating less than what your body requires will make you weak, and you’ll lack energy at the end of the day. In some cases, this may then cause you to eat more than usual. Developing a food plan that consists of the essential nutrients while cutting down on sugar and refined carbs is more beneficial.
2. Thin people are healthy and obese people are unfit/unhealthy
We, as a society, have given words like ‘thin’ and ‘fat’ much more importance and weightage than they actually deserve. Whether a person is active or physically fit has nothing to do with the number on the weighing scale or external appearance. Strength and health are not determined by how ‘thin’ or ‘fat’ you are.
3. Losing weight is linear, i.e. you have to be losing weight every day/week
You may not see a decrease in the number on your weighing machine every day or every week, and that is okay. Your body weight depends on a lot of external factors. You may have drunk a lot of water the previous night or during the day, and that can add up the next day. For women, there may be a lot of fluctuations, especially when they’re menstruating. The important thing is that you have to stay healthy and keep working on your goals. Fluctuations in body weight are normal, and the focus should be on long-term changes.
4. Only exercising helps you lose weight and/or only cutting down on carbs helps.
Both exercising and a healthy diet together will help you achieve your weight goals. One without the other is ineffective. Health experts recommend that creating a 500 calorie deficit between your intake and the amount burnt is important for a healthy weight loss. This should be done by both reducing carbs and junk food and regular exercise.
5. Strength training is not effective
When it comes to fitness, many people think that cardio is enough, and strength training is not an efficient way to lose weight. This is especially the case with women who believe that strength training will cause them to bulk up and appear ‘masculine’. But the truth is, it is extremely vital to incorporate strength training workouts into your routine as cardio only burns fat, but for strong muscles, weight training is the way to go. This could be done two days a week, along with cardio and HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) sessions and other exercise forms. Strength training helps develop and build muscles and tones the body, giving an overall well-defined shape. It will not cause women to bulk up as they can’t build muscles at the same rate as men (the rate of muscle build-up depends on the level of muscle mass present and testosterone). If you are incredibly concerned about how you look, try using dumbbells of lower weight to tone your body, and if you want to gain more muscle, increase the weight.
6. Weight loss and fat loss are equal
Weight loss and fat loss are not the same. Weight loss is simply a decrease in overall body weight. In contrast, fat loss is a reduction in your body fat. A good diet and cardio routine can achieve weight loss, but you will need to add a strength training routine to your workout plans to achieve fat loss.
7. Weight loss pills/diets are effective
Not all weight loss programs are effective. According to an article by Healthline, 85% of dieters end up gaining weight back within a year. Additionally, studies indicate that people who diet are most likely to gain weight in the future.
8. Skinny people should eat to gain weight and/or no matter how much they eat, they can’t gain weight
Many thin people are often told at some point or the other, “You should eat more to gain weight.” But eating more doesn’t actually contribute to building your body. That should be replaced by whole grains, fibre, and a protein-rich diet. It will take a lot of calories to gain muscle and weight, but that should be divided between the meals. High-calorie-rich foods should also be incorporated, like bananas, eggs, milk, etc.
Whether it be the onset of social media or societal pressure, the idea of getting into a so-called desirable figure settles into our mind. Insecurities tend to creep in, and we do go to extremes to achieve these unachievable goals. People are beautiful the way they are, regardless of what the numbers on a scale say, but that can become hard to believe at times. However, to enforce either an exercise routine or a diet solely can be harmful to your body. If you choose to adopt any methods, research about them online and weigh out the pros and cons. These will ensure that you have a healthy weight loss which benefits you and your body.