Weight Loss with HEALTHeME

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Weight Loss Myths Debunked

Top weight loss myths debunked.

What really works for weight loss?

The media is swirling with “great” advice to help you shed unwanted pounds. From doing only cardio, to doing no cardio and from eating nothing but cabbage soup, to eating chocolate with each meal, it seems there is no end to the words of wisdom devised to come to your weight-loss rescue. So, it seems relevant, at this time of year, to address two specific issues and set the record straight for weight loss.

MYTH 1:  “You aren’t eating enough.” Really?
I recently had a conversation with someone who was told by her personal trainer that she wasn’t losing weight because she wasn’t eating enough. As a long-time fitness professional, I’m not putting down personal trainers but I do think we need to question this line of reasoning. Does it really make sense that the nearly 70% of Americans who are either overweight or obese got to this place by not eating enough?
It may be more accurate to say that we aren’t eating enough of the good stuff, like fruits and vegetables. Some statistics estimate that only 32% of U.S. adults eat 2 or more servings of fruit per day. The data for vegetable intake is more disheartening, with only about a quarter of adults eating the recommended 3 servings per day. So, maybe we can amend the statement by saying we don’t need to eat more in general, just more of the good-for-us fruits and vegetables and less of the processed, empty calories in which we’re famous for indulging.

MYTH 2: “You aren’t losing body fat because you’re working out too hard.” What?
We’ve probably all heard talk of a mystical place called the “fat-burning zone”. And, no, it’s not due north of the Bermuda triangle. There are studies that confirm the utilization of more energy in the form of stored fat when you exercise at lower intensity levels. However, the total number of calories you burn at lower intensity levels is less than the calories you burn during a higher intensity exercise session of similar duration. One study found that women who participated in high-intensity exercise sessions lost more abdominal fat and decreased the amount of fat surrounding their organs than did their lower-intensity exercising counterparts. So, what really matters, in terms of weight loss, is your total caloric burn.
In fact, the energy balance equation is pretty clear on this matter: if you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight; if you burn more calories than you consume, you will lose weight. If you decrease your total daily caloric intake by 500 calories, you will lose one pound per week. You can most easily create this deficit by cutting back on calories and adding daily exercise.

The bottom line: there are just no short cuts when it comes to weight loss. But, by exercising regularly (especially at higher intensity levels), cutting unnecessary calories (like those in processed foods), and eating the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies each day, you can enjoy weight loss success!