We have a fairly solid set of ideas of what weight loss looks like, fed in part by media portrayals, promotional material from those looking to profit from it, and what we see at the gym all the time. Some of the ideas have merit, but some of it is completely off base.
If you are wondering whether or not you need to lose weight, it may be worth consulting a body mass index (BMI) calculator. Though a little rough, a BMI calculator will be able to tell you whether or not you’re a healthy weight, or near enough how much weight you need to either lose or gain to become healthy.
Today, let’s look at some of the more common weight loss myths, and what the actual truth is behind them.
Weight loss takes hard core exercise
No it doesn’t. Though some degree of exercise is helpful for weight loss, it’s not all that necessary. Most of the success in weight loss comes from a few small changes and, most importantly, balancing the amount of calories you take in with the amount you need.
Exercise will increase the number of calories you need, so fine, do put some time in at the gym. Go for a walk from time to time. Be generally more active in order to increase your metabolic needs. In addition, use a BMR calculator to work out what you should be eating- how many calories- and adjust your intake accordingly.
A combination of eating less and exercising a little more is generally the best, easiest and most efficient route towards sustainable weight loss.
Carbs make you fat
Nope: eating too many calories makes you fat. Carbs give you energy.
If you eat carbs in the right quantities, making sure to align your caloric and macro-nutrient intake with the feedback from a BMR calculator, allowing for a slight caloric deficit, you will lose weight.
Also, simple carbs like sugar will leave you feeling hungry. They won’t make you fat, but they will make it hard to eat less. Go for good quality, complex carbs like oats and fibrous veg to fill you up for fewer calories.
Healthy foods are expensive
No, no they’re not, not at all. Dietary supplements and weight loss products are super expensive- eye-wateringly, immorally so. They are also largely useless, or at best unnecessary.
If you want to lose weight and enjoy a healthy diet, go for whole foods. Buy fresh fruit and veg and base your diet on it: this is genuinely the cheapest way to eat, no matter what your goals are.
As above, use a BMR calculator, work out how many calories you need, then ignore weight loss products. Make up the calories from inexpensive whole foods and good quality, cheap fat and protein sources like eggs, dairy and low-cost meat and fish.
You need to starve yourself to lose weight
You need a slight caloric deficit. This will be around 500 per day to achieve a weekly weight loss of 1lb. This still allow most of us to eat around 1600-2000 calories per day- hardly starvation.
In addition, starvation will come with a variety of side effects, ruining your health, whilst not allowing you to lose the weight you want. Your body will go into starvation mode at too steep a caloric deficit: it will enter a catabolic state, in which it metabolises muscle mass for energy. It will literally eat itself, leading to poor musculature.
Even if you stay just shy of full starvation, your metabolic rate will slow right down. This means you won’t be burning fat, won’t have any energy, and will ultimately make yourself feel horrible whilst falling short of your goals.