6 weight loss myths

Here are a few myths you should consider, if you plan to go on a weight loss programme.

Weight lossThere cannot be a common diet for everybody. Diets are individual-specific, meaning it varies from person to person depending on their body type. The number of calories you need to obtain from your diet depends on how much energy your body uses. This partly depends on how efficiently your body cells use energy [Basal Metabolic Rate] which is determined genetically and partly on your level of physical activity. Always remember: Energy input = Energy output. Many teens turn to dieting in order to change their bodies and feel better, thus opting for unhealthy weight loss methods. Here are some facts that may help you move a step closer to achieve your weight loss target.

Myth 1: High-protein/low-carbohydrate/Atkins diets are a healthy way to lose weight.

Having high-protein foods like meat, eggs, and dal is not a balanced eating-plan. You may be eating too much fat and cholesterol, which may raise the risk of heart diseases. Eating less fruits, vegetables and whole grains will lead to constipation due to lack of dietary fibre. Similarly a low-carb diet can lead to the build-up of ketones [partially broken-down fats] in your blood which causes medical problems like gout [a painful swelling of the joints] and kidney stones. Following a high-protein/low-carbohydrate diet makes you nauseated, tired and fatigued. Such diets cause muscle loss instead of fat loss leading to short-term weight loss. Therefore, it is better to opt for a balanced diet that includes whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. This will help you gain their key nutrients and also have permanent weight loss.

Myth 2: Skipping meals or fasting is the best way to lose weight

Eat at least five meals in a day [3 major meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner and 2 small mid-meals]. Studies show that people who skip breakfast and eat fewer times during the day tend to be heavier than people who eat a healthy breakfast and eat 4-5 times a day. This is because people who skip meals tend to feel hungry later, and overeat. Eating small meals throughout the day helps to control appetite. Eating frequently will not only help you to maintain your BMR, but also provide consistent energy to the body. Include a variety of healthy, low-fat, and low-calorie foods like fruits, juices, high fibre snacks and buttermilk.

Myth 3: Avoid milk or its products when trying to lose weight.

Dairy products offer protein to build and repair worn out muscles, form various hormones and enzymes required for digestion and thus helps the body function properly. Milk contains calcium [150 ml of milk = 200 mg calcium] to strengthen bones and it is fortified with vitamin D to help your body use calcium. You can select cow’s milk, which has lower fat content, over buffalo’s milk. Always skim the milk before you drink. If you cannot digest lactose [the sugar found in dairy products], choose lactose-free dairy products, or other foods that offer calcium and vitamin D like soymilk and tofu.

Myth 4: If you exercise it doesn’t matter what you eat.

Diet is an important part when you exercise. Physically active individuals need more nutrients than sedentary individuals. It is difficult to get any results without providing optimal levels of nutrients to the body according to its need. You may be doing more harm than good to your body, when you are exercising a nutrient deficient body.

Myth 5: Exercising on an empty stomach burns more fat.

The fact is that when you exercise; your body is burning fat as well as carbohydrate stores from food you’ve recently eaten. So if you skip your pre-workout meal or snack, you won’t have carbohydrate stores to burn. Instead, your body starts to burn the lean muscle mass. Less muscle means lower metabolism and lower level of burning calories. Exercising on an empty stomach will make you feel tired and you might be not able to give 100 per cent to your workout. Therefore, you should have a meal 3-4 hours before a workout, or a snack 1-2 hours before exercising.

Myth 6: Alcohol or caffeine is an easier way to keep oneself hydrated.

Alcohol works against you by causing your body to lose fluid and get dehydrated quickly. Caffeine-based beverages like tea, coffee or colas have a diuretic effect. So, if you use caffeinated drinks, increase your water intake as well. If you drink four cups of coffee, you may need more than eight cups of water per day to make up for the loss that caffeine causes. In short, when you are having these kinds of beverages, be sure to stay well-hydrated. You should drink two glasses of water for every alcoholic drink you intake as it helps the body to stay hydrated.

It is important to have a balanced diet when trying to lose weight. Consult a dietician before starting the programme. This will help you to prevent any kind of medical ailments or deficiencies.

Deepshikha Agarwal
Deepshikha Agarwal is a Mumbai-based dietician and sports nutritionist. She writes nutrition-related columns in newspapers and conducts corporate workshops. She also teaches and conducts lectures on diet and wellness isues.



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