Training Tips

9 Weight Loss Myths That Can Lead to Weight Gain: Part 2

In part one of this article, we talked about why weight loss myths are so prevalent. We also went over four of the most common pieces of diet advice that can actually make you gain weight:

  1. To lose weight, you need a calorie deficit
  2. The only way to lose weight is to not eat carbs
  3. An effective weight-loss program is fat-free
  4. If I eat only diet foods, I will lose weight

In this second segment, we’ll continue to dispel some of the weight loss myths that are less likely to bring you success. Ready to get started? Great! Let’s move on.

#5: It Costs More to Lose Weight Because Healthy Foods are Expensive

Many people believe that, to eat healthy, they must allot more money toward food. This weight loss myth becomes reinforced every time you walk into a grocery store and see lean meats for $10 or more per package or small cartons of berries for $4 and up. Yet, glance over at the snack cakes and candy bars by the checkout counter and those are around $1. 

This can be a major obstacle to clients who live on a tight budget. When you’re trying to keep up with your housing and utility costs, there might be very little left for your diet needs. You convince yourself that your only option is to eat foods that aren’t good for you. This leads to weight gain.

The reality is that you can still lose weight when you’re watching your pennies. Many foods high in nutrients are lower in cost. Vegetables fall into this category. You can pick up many for just a couple dollars. Other lower-cost foods that can help you lose weight include canned beans, eggs, and whole-wheat bread.

Sometimes fruit can appear expensive, but if you calculate the price per serving, it isn’t as costly as it seems. To reduce how much you pay for fruits and vegetables, you could even grow your own garden. Shopping at a local farmer’s market can help as well.

Lean meat is another food source that can drive up your grocery bill. Shop your store’s sales to keep these options in check. Another option is to buy your meat in bulk, lowering its final price per serving.

Also consider how expensive it is to be overweight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shares that obesity has “a significant economic impact” on our nation’s healthcare system. Between the medical costs associated with obesity and job absenteeism due to obesity issues, it is actually harder on your budget to be overweight.

#6: I Have to Starve Myself if I Want to Lose Weight

Many diets don’t work because they require you to eat an extremely low number of calories. It’s not uncommon for fad diets to create such a calorie deficit that if feels like you’re starving your body. Following this type of weight-loss program often leads to weight gain.

At first, consuming limited calories feels easy because you start losing weight. As time goes on, this feeling wears off and the diet becomes hard to sustain. Your body doesn’t get the nutrition it needs, so you feel agitated and sluggish. Lower your calories too much and you may begin to lose muscle mass as well.

Eating a low number of calories may contribute to losing weight, but there are negative consequences if you lose weight too fast. One of the most frustrating effects is that you’re extremely likely to gain it back again. This puts you in a weight loss-weight gain cycle that is hard to get out of.

While a low-calorie weight loss plan may seem like the way to go, losing weight for good involves giving your body the nutrition it needs to function without giving it so much that it stores the excess as fat. How many calories should you eat a day to lose weight?

This amount is different for everyone. Some people can eat 2,000 calories per day and burn fat. Others may need to take in fewer calories to get the same effect.

To determine how many calories you need to eat to reach your weight loss goals requires first looking at how many you burn while at rest. This is called your resting metabolic rate. Add in any physical exercise you do, such as resistance training or aerobics, and this tells you how much energy you use in a day.

Eat fewer calories than you burn and you will lose weight. This calorie deficit will force your body to use stored fat for energy. Another option is to increase your physical activity. This will help you lose weight by boosting your metabolic rate.

#7: I Can Eat What I Want as Long as I Exercise

Exercise offers many benefits. Strength training helps you build lean muscle and cardio lowers your risk of heart disease. The right workout can also increase your energy. But you can’t outrun a bad diet simply by exercising more.

First, it can be difficult to exercise enough to burn off all the calories you eat. For instance, let’s say you eat some M&Ms. At 240 calories per bag, a 155-pound person would have to do 30 minutes of water aerobics or calisthenics to burn this amount of calories. This doesn’t even consider the other calories you’re eating throughout the rest of the day.

When you don’t give your body ample nutrition via a balanced diet, it’s also harder to stick to your exercise plan. Eat a meal high in saturated fat and you may feel too sluggish to work out. Meals high in sugar can cause your blood sugar to spike then dip, causing the same effect.

If you want to lose weight for good, you must watch your diet in addition to getting enough exercise. Don’t take in more calories than your body needs so it doesn’t store the excess as fat. Also, choose foods with a high nutrient content so you have enough energy to power through your workouts.

By taking this approach, you won’t spend all your time trying to make up for all of the extra calories you’re eating. And the exercise you do engage in is able to create the calorie deficit you need to shed some excess weight. 

One of the easiest exercises to do is to walk. It doesn’t cause a lot of stress on the joints and, as long as you have a pair of tennis shoes, you can do it anywhere. How much do you need to walk to lose weight? 

This amount can vary based on your current weight and how fast you move. For instance, a person weighing 155 pounds that walks 2.5 mph will burn roughly 211 calories after 60 minutes. A person who weighs 205 pounds burns about 245 calories for the same speed and time. Many online calculators exist to help you figure this out.

#8: If I Want to Lose Weight, I Have to Swear ‘Bad’ Food Off Forever

Yes, you have to improve your diet if you want long-term weight loss. But this doesn’t mean that you can never eat pizza, ice cream, or your other favorite foods ever again if your goal is to lose fat.

If you believe that you must eat perfectly for the rest of your life to achieve and maintain your goal weight, you’re likely to feel restricted. When you feel restricted, losing weight becomes a chore. It becomes something you dread because you can’t eat any of the foods you want. 

Pretty soon, you start cheating here and there. Before you know it, you’ve blown your diet completely because you’d rather enjoy the foods you eat than spend another day eating only highly nutritious foods.

All foods have a place in a healthy eating plan. Giving yourself permission to eat the ones you love most every now and again makes it easier to stick to your diet because you know a treat is coming. It reduces your risk of bingeing because you haven’t made that food off limits.

Put a cheat meal or two in your diet plan every week. This will keep you motivated to stick to healthy foods the rest of the time. It also gives you something to look forward to.

#9: The Best Way to Lose Weight is to Weigh Yourself Every Day

Although a scale is one way to measure weight loss, many people have a love-hate relationship with this device. If the numbers go down, everything is okay. But if they go up—even by less than an ounce—it can ruin their entire day. 

This can lead to overeating because you feel defeated. You feel like your diet isn’t working, so you eat more to calm yourself. You don’t see the point of watching what you eat and exercising because you aren’t getting the results you want.

The problem with the scale is it doesn’t show the whole picture. It doesn’t just measure body fat. If you are retaining water or building muscle, the number can easily go up. Attribute this gain to fat and it’s easy to give up.

Instead of stepping on the scale every single day, only weigh yourself once a week. If this feels too defeating and could cause you to throw in the towel on your eating plan, weigh yourself once a month.

Remember that the number on the display represents a variety of factors. So, if it goes up a little, it could be for reasons not related to fat. You can also track your progress using other methods, such as taking physical measurements, paying attention to how your clothes fit, or recognizing how it is easier to move around.

How to Separate Weight Loss Myths from Facts

Confused by all the myths? You’re not alone. Here are a few tips to help you better separate myths about weight loss from the facts:

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Many companies will make astonishing weight loss claims to get you to buy their products. However, the best way to shed your extra fat is through eating a balanced diet and getting regular physical exercise. 
  • Beware of diets that cut out entire food groups. Your body needs nutrients from each food group to function effectively. If the weight-loss plan you’re considering doesn’t follow this approach, it probably isn’t good for you. Cutting out entire classes of food can also increase your desire to binge eat, making them harder to sustain long-term.
  • Do your own research. If you question whether a particular weight loss plan will work, check out its claims yourself. Look at what the studies say. Talk to your personal trainer or another health expert. Get feedback before deciding to try it and potentially getting the reverse effect.

Clients of all ages have weight loss goals. To help each of them, the ISSA offers a Lifespan Coach Certification. This course teaches how the body ages and how this can impact movement. You’ll also learn which diseases clients are at the biggest risk of developing based on where they are in their lives, from teens to seniors. This certification course better prepares you to help clients in all stages of life.

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