Weight loss can be a struggle and the last thing you need are some myths about slimming down to hinder your progress.
Green smoothies kicked off a dramatic diet and lifestyle transformation that helped me lose almost 40 pounds!
So let’s dive in and shed some light on the eight most common myths about losing weight.
Myth #1: All you have to do is to count (and reduce) calories to lose weight.
This is only partially true. If you are overweight, you do need to be conscious of how many calories you eat per day and reduce that amount until you reach your goal weight.
But healthy weight loss is more than just eating fewer calories. Where your calories come from is as important (and possibly more important) than how many you get.
The more calories that come from plant-based, whole foods, the easier you will lose weight. Plant-based whole foods are nutrient dense, rather than calorie-dense. Avoid or dramatically limit calories from processed foods like pizza, soda, cookies and other non-whole foods.
I can’t tell you how many times I see people failing on a weight loss program because they are trying to eat fewer calories of junk food. I don’t care if it’s “weight loss” pizza or a 100-calorie brownie, it’s still pizza and brownies – and it’s not a weight loss food!
Get this false “healthy food” out of your diet and watch the weight melt away for good.
TIP: Keep a weight loss journal, at least for the first month of your weight loss journey. Plan your meals the day before and keep track of your calories. You can use a free website like Cron-o-meter. This will not only help you keep track of your calories, but it will help you space your meals out so you don’t get hungry (and tempted to snack) between meals.
Myth #2: Carbohydrates make you fat.
I hear this misconception a LOT. There’s the thing. Carbs don’t make you fat. Excess calories make you fat. Sure, you can cut all the carbs you want, but if you are still overeating, your body is taking in excess calories and storing them as fat.
Also, there are “good carbohydrates” and there are “bad carbohydrates.” Fruits and vegetables are good, donuts and cookies – not so much. Yet some diet experts lump all carbs, including fruit, into the same category of foods to avoid when losing weight.
In my experience, bananas and grapes do not cause weight gain. Fruit is not sabotaging your diet or making you fat. (Is the sugar in fruit, and green smoothies, bad for you?)
Your body uses carbohydrates as fuel. You use this fuel to exercise and burn fat. In fact, fruits and vegetables are powerful weight loss foods that you should be eating a lot of, not avoiding. Good carbohydrates are also high in fiber and help regulate your blood sugar level.
TIP: Try to incorporate lots of good carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and other whole foods into your diet. Avoid refined grains (white flour, white bread, and white rice), processed foods, baked goods, soft drinks, and alcohol.
Myth #3: All fats are equal—and equally bad for you.
Yes and no. Eating the wrong kinds of fat may play a role in weight gain, but eating the right kind of fats will help you lose weight.
Saturated fats like high-fat cuts of meat, chicken with the skin, dairy products, and trans-fats used in cookies, doughnuts, cakes, packaged snack foods, margarine, and shortening are bad for you because they raise your cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease.
However, monounsaturated fats in avocados, olives, olive and sunflower oil, and polyunsaturated fats, such as pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and walnuts support your health. They help to lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease. They don’t make you fat as long as you don’t overdo them.
The one caveat with fat in the diet is that fat is the most calorie-dense food. One gram of fat has 9 calories, versus 4 calories per gram that carbohydrates and protein has. There is a potential to overdo it on calories if you consume too much fat – even from healthy sources.
That’s why I recommend sticking with whole food sources of fats (avocados, nuts, seeds) rather than using oils.
TIP: Add a tablespoon of ground flax or chia seeds to your green smoothie and keep some raw nuts at your desk to snack on when you’re hungry.
Myth #4: Skipping meals is a good way to lose weight.
This is one of the worst things you can do to lose weight. When you skip a meal, your body goes into starvation mode and will store calories as fat. Fasting doesn’t accelerate weight loss, eating enough of the right kind of foods does.
TIP: Always eat breakfast. You don’t have to eat the second you get up, but it’s important to eat within an hour or two of getting out of bed.
Some people like to eat three large meals per day while others would rather eat five or six smaller meals. Figure out which one works better for you and schedule your meals and snacks accordingly. If you have a busy job and forget to eat lunch, try keeping lunch foods at your desk or bring a green smoothie.
Myth #5: Don’t weigh yourself.
When you are trying to lose weight, it’s important to weigh yourself every day. I know that some people will disagree with me, but that’s how I manage my weight.
When I was trying to lose weight, I weighed myself every single day. I was able to see how the foods I ate the day before affected my weight. It enabled me to quickly find the right portion sizes and eating habits to rapidly get down to my ideal weight.
Plus, it kept me motivated. Knowing that I am stepping on the scale tomorrow makes it easier to exercise willpower today.
You’re not going to lose a pound a day and you will see some ups as well as downs. That’s the only problem with this strategy, it’s too easy to freak out if the number on the scale stops moving, or moves in the wrong direction.
But the scale is a fantastic tool that will tell you in real time if what you are doing is working or not. It’s better to try new things than to check in a week or so later only to find that your diet hasn’t been working the whole time.
TIP: Weigh yourself daily, preferably first thing in the morning before your meal. If you are dropping consistent numbers, keep doing what you are doing.
If you find yourself plateauing or gaining, you’ll be able to address the cause sooner. I found that having a daily weigh-in kept me focused on my goal and less likely to splurge.
Myth #6: Snacking between meals is a bad idea.
Mindless snacking will sabotage your weight loss, but mindful snacking is an excellent strategy to keep you feeling satisfied between meals. You’ll also be less likely to overeat at mealtime, or binge when hunger gets the best of you.
Planning healthy snacks into your meal plan also keeps you from succumbing to cravings.
TIP: Keep healthy snacks at your desk and don’t be afraid to eat them.
If you find that you still feel hungry after your snack, you might not be eating enough. Find a calorie tracking software and do a quick calorie audit to ensure you are meeting your calorie needs.
Myth #7: You can never eat after 8pm.
The problem with eating in the late evening is that you are probably not very active at that time. If you have dinner when you come home from work and sit in front of the computer or TV all night, you’re not burning any calories from your meal.
Eating and then going to bed is the worst thing you can do since your sleep won’t be as restful. The calories won’t be utilized properly.
Try not to eat within 3 hours of bedtime.
TIP: If you want to eat late in the evening, then you need to be active in the evening. You don’t have to do a full workout, but you should spend 10 or 15 minutes doing something active.
Make sure you measure your snacks as well and keep a tight reign on portion sizes. It’s best to eat rapidly digesting foods as a late snack like fresh fruit.
Myth #8: You shouldn’t do strength training if you want to lose weight because it will make you “bulk up.”
Some people, especially women, are concerned about doing too much strength training and getting too buff. You are not going to get super big muscles overnight. It takes a lot of hard work to get “buff”.
Strength training is important for weight loss as muscle tissue burns more calories per day than does fat tissue.
Also, if you are overweight and have lived a sedentary lifestyle, you may need strength training to build your muscle to normal levels while you lose body fat.
Many people are technically within their normal weight range or BMI, but their muscles have atrophied from lack of physical exercise. I don’t know if you’ve ever hear the term “skinny-fat”, but it’s a thing.
“Skinny-fat” people look slim, or only slightly overweight, but their body fat to muscle ratio is too high.
TIP: Incorporate full body strength training exercises into your day. Exercises that will tone and build muscle include planks, pull-ups, push-ups, and mountain climbers. Dumbbell and free weight workouts are also great options.
Also, don’t just rely on the scale to measure your weight loss. Take measurements! Losing inches is a much better indication of fat loss than a number on the scale.
If your weight loss has plateaued, but you are losing inches, you’re losing body fat while gaining muscle. That’s absolutely fantastic!
“Bonus” Myth #9: Fruits like bananas are fattening.
Oh goodness, I just don’t know how this myth gained traction. I’ve had someone tell me once that bananas go straight to your hips and belly.
The truth is that bananas, like all foods, provide fuel for your body. Excess calories from any source will lead to weight gain and accumulation of body fat.
However, your body does not pick certain foods to store as fat while burning others for fuel. If you consume an overabundance of calories, than any food you eat will contribute to weight gain. As I’ve mentioned before, fruit is not the problem here. Fruit is not making you fat.
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