Over the holiday's, I thought "how can I help get my clients ahead and set them up for success?" I decided to compile all the useful information into one document in the form on an e-book. Since 2017 is upon us, I am willing to bet your looking to lose a few of those holiday pounds. I thought it would be appropriate to share the Weight Loss Myth's chapter of the book so that you don't fall victim!
Chapter 5: Weight Loss Myths
Most people view fitness as “working out” and “dieting”. No wonder obesity is rampant in our society. The terms working out and dieting imply short term fixes for a chronic issue. It's like trying to put out a massive fire with a cup of water. The short term solutions simply do not really work. Exercise and eating well should be considered lifelong habits, not short term fixes like diets and short term workout programs. Whether you are trying to lose fat or gain muscle, behaviour modification is going to very challenging, but it is absolutely necessary for you to achieve your results. Eating good food and moving your body needs to become a part of your daily routine if you are going to be successful long term. Before we uncover the myths of weight loss, let's cover the simple version of how fat loss works. Everyone has a set-point relating to how much fat and muscle they carry under normal conditions. You must change behavioural habits in order to change your hormonal set-point of weight storage. The previous sentence cannot be emphasised enough. Being lean, strong and fit is a lifestyle of healthy behaviours. If you are overweight and have been for a while, your body has adjusted its hormonal set-point to maintain your current weight as a result of your current lifestyle habits. Please be aware that this set-point is NOT caused by calories, it is caused by chemical messengers called hormones. In order for you to change this hormonal set-point, you must change the unhealthy behaviours that are causing the hormonal imbalance. Over time, your body will adjust its set-point by adapting to the new healthy behaviours. NOTE* virtually all processes in the body are controlled by chemical messengers such as hormones, especially metabolism and weight loss.
We hear this all the time, “she’s so lucky she has a fast metabolism” or “ it’s not my fault I’m overweight, I just have a slow metabolism”. Everyone likes to talk about metabolism without really understanding what it is. Many people think of metabolism as an elusive magical furnace that burns fat which we have no control over. Hmm, not exactly. Metabolism is the process of converting chemical energy from food into other forms of energy such a movement (mechanical) or heat (thermogenesis). Metabolism is controlled by hormones and enzymes, and while there is a genetic component, we do have some control over metabolism. It comes down the WHAT you are eating, not necessarily how much. Your body has a very different process of breaking down sugar vs. fat vs. protein. The body utilises many metabolic pathways to create energy which depend on the specific nutrients that are ingested. Just like with cars, some fuels are cleaner and produce more energy than others. Sugar or carbohydrates are a very dirty fuel source with a low energy yield since it requires a ridiculous amount of oxygen. On the other hand, healthy fats are a very clean fuel source that is very high energy yield and demands much less oxygen than carbohydrates.
The Calorie Myth
Society has lead people to believe that calories are the key to controlling weight. The first thing most people look at when looking at a food label is the calories. Many food companies with their own financial interests at heart, are trying to convince you that their product is healthy because it has less calories. Do not fall for this trap, you will be disappointed. Calories are defined as “the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water through 1 °C”. What does this have to do with weight loss? Not much. Many people diligently track their calories, but don’t see the results they desire. Despite all the awareness of calorie control, people are still fat, sick and weak. In fact, being severely calorie restricted for a long period of time can actually cause you to gain fat! Starving your body will tell it that it is going to die if it doesn’t cling to every calorie. Let’s explore the classic weight loss strategy through calorie restriction and why it does not work.
Classic weight loss strategy
Many well respected fitness professionals still subscribe to the idea that if you maintain a deficit of 300-500 calories deficit, you will lose weight. They calculate your metabolic rate (how much energy you use in a day) and design a diet based off of that. If we know so much about weight loss, and calories are the key, why is obesity at its highest rate ever? The classic weight loss strategy assumes that your body burns the exact same amount of calories every day. There is a major problem with this idea. Sure we can estimate how many calories you burn in a day, but the truth is that your body is always adjusting the environment. Your metabolism is always changing. If you eat less calories than your body needs, you metabolism will adjust by slowing down. Likewise, if you eat more calories than you need, your body increase its metabolism by producing more heat to balance itself. The more you eat, the more calories you burn and the less you eat, the less you burn. Sure, you can put yourself at a calorie deficit for a number of weeks and you may see the scale creep down a few pounds. But you find you're constantly hungry, cold and weak. Your body enters a stress state since it is not getting the nutrients it needs. Your willpower fades and you crush an entire pizza to yourself. This is NOT sustainable weight loss folks. If you have tried to lose weight through conventional means, you have probably been on this rollercoaster ride.
Not all calories are created equal
Calories can come from 3 sources called macronutrients - Carbohydrates (sugar), fats (lipids), and protein (amino acids). The body reacts differently depending on the amount of carbs, fats and protein you eat in a meal. Say Lindsey consumed 200 calories of soda, while her friend Melissa eats 200 calories of avocado. Lindsey’s body is going to react very differently compared to Melissa’s body due to the source of the calories. In this scenario, Lindsey’s blood sugar is going to spike, causing a corresponding spike in the hormone insulin. The single largest determinant of fat storage is insulin, NOT calories. Melissa on the other hand, who ate 200 calories of fat from the avocado, will have very different blood chemistry. They will not see the same large insulin spike, leading to less weight gain and more weight loss. Controlling hormones such as insulin is the key to your weight loss! How do we keep insulin levels low? Avoid refined carbohydrates (aka SUGAR) and fill yourself up with healthy fats. If you were to remember one thing from this post, make it EAT LESS SUGAR AND EAT MORE FAT!