Dieting Misbeliefs That Making Weight Loss More Difficult
Believing false, or outdated notions about dieting can make weight loss more difficult, maybe even impossible.
Letting go of dieting untruths frees us to make lifestyle choices that actually promote weight loss without undue struggle, and we can start by reconsidering the authority of our genes.
Our genes are not an indelible life script. According to biologist Dr. Bruce H. Lipton, genes can be likened to blueprints for the construction our cells, tissues, and organs. Our environment, including the food we eat, is guided by the genetic blueprints—and is “ultimately responsible” for the expression of our physical life.
Approximately 35 percent of people in the U.S. are now considered obese, and only nine percent of these cases are associated with obesity-related genes. If current trends continue over 50 percent of us will be obese by 2050. That increase cannot be blamed on evolutionary alterations to our genetic blueprint, since it takes thousands of years for human genes to mutate just two percent.
What has changed drastically in recent history is the way we eat. For instance, in the year 1800 individuals ate about 10 pounds of sugar per year. Today, individuals consume about 152 pounds of sugar yearly, plus nearly that many pounds of flour. All the sugar, refined grains, and processed foods we now consume have become a weighty issue since calories from different food sources have different effects on the body.
Not All Calories Are Alike
All calories are units of energy or heat; in that sense they are alike. However, our calories come from a variety of food sources—some that are good for us, some that are not. The nutritional information in some foods promotes healthy hormonal and metabolic functioning, while the nutritional message in other edibles slows our metabolism and promotes weight gain.
Calories from sugary foods, for example, stimulate our hunger, and instigate fat storage, whereas calories from proteins and healthy fats trigger fat burning. So, trying to shed pounds by consuming fewer calories than we use may not slim our waistline if the calories come from sugary, or refined carbohydrate sources.
Beneficial calories, those that stimulate our metabolism, come from quality proteins, healthy fats, and richly colored veggies, supplemented by whole grains, and whole fruits.
Not By Exercise Alone
Since calories are not created equal, we cannot expect to lose weight through exercise alone. If we exercise regularly, but continue to eat the wrong foods we may increase our endurance, add some muscle, and generally improve our health, but we won’t drop many pounds.
It takes a brisk four-and-a-half mile walk to burn off a sugar sweetened 20 ounce soda, and to combust the calories in a single super-sized fast food meal we’d have to run four miles each day for seven days. Plus, research shows that junk-food diets impair our muscles’ ability to utilize glucose; this could eventually contribute to insulin resistance.
To lose weight, and to keep those pounds off we need the one-two punch provided by exercise and a healthy diet—a diet that includes the right fats.
Fat: Not The Enemy
While it’s important to avoid trans fats, and limit our use of heavily processed oils, healthy dietary fat actually speeds up our metabolism, and is our cells’ fuel of choice. Study comparisons of high-fat and high sugar-diets with identical calorie counts show that people burn up to 300 extra calories per day just by eating the higher-fat diet.
So while we don’t appreciate fat that settles around our belly or thighs, good dietary fats are not the culprit. Instead of slowing our metabolism and triggering inflammation the way sugar does, healthy fats - such as extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil or butter, avocado, seeds, and nuts - reduce inflammation and boost metabolism, when eaten in moderation.
Despite the many benefits of consuming good fats, every body is different. Those on a prescribed diet should check with their doctor or dietitian before making additions or changes.