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Seven things you think are hindering weight loss, but really aren’t

Belfast PT and nutritionist Alan Waterman busts common weight loss myths

Belfast PT and nutritionist Alan Waterman busts common weight loss myths
Belfast PT and nutritionist Alan Waterman busts common weight loss myths

By Alan Waterman

When it comes to losing weight, you’d better have your wits about you…

If you were to believe everything you’ve ever heard as to why you’re not seeing the weight-loss results you want, you’d have one hell of a list.

Any wonder there’s confusion as to the right approach?

What most of these reasons tend to overlook, however, is the most important factor when looking at weight-loss: energy balance. It’s a matter of calories in vs. calories out.

I know, it sounds too simple.

But, it’s true! Any diet which has even caused weight-loss has done so because it has helped create a calorie deficit. The reason many struggle to lose weight is because again, simply, they are just not in that required deficit.

But there are those out there that will have you believe that many other factors play a role in preventing weight loss.

Here are seven things you may have heard are preventing your weight loss that just simply aren’t true.

1. Eating carbs

For years, carbs have been suggested to be a major cause of weight gain, leading many to adopt a low/zero-carb diet approach.

However, carbs themselves are not fattening, but consuming too many calories is.

Regardless of where those calories come from (carbs, fats, or protein) if we consume more than we need, we will have difficulty losing weight.

Low-carb diets can work for some people, but it is not because they remove carbs, it is because they can often cause a person to consume fewer total calories. Carbs aren’t your enemy when it comes to weight loss, overeating is.

2. Eating late at night

Many have long believed that calories eaten at night will prevent us from losing weight as we tend to be less active during this part of the day and therefore will not burn off those calories and run the risk of them being stored as fat.

However, the problem with this idea is that, in truth, the body never stops working at burning fuel across the course of a 24-hour period. It won’t suddenly stop or slow down once we reach a certain time of the day.

Your body doesn’t recognize time, it just keeps doing its thing.

3. Eating gluten

Gluten has not been shown to be an issue with regards to causing weight gain or preventing weight loss.

In fact, unless you are coeliac, gluten has not been shown to really cause any problematic issues at all.

So why do some people lose weight when they stop eating bread or other gluten-containing products? Simple - they were overeating those foods in the first place.

Many foods containing gluten tend to be higher in calories and/or are easier to overeat, so we're more likely to consume too many calories when we eat them.

4. Artificial sweeteners

Despite a host of supposed risks associated with consuming artificial sweeteners, none of them have ever been shown to occur in human studies- only in rats!

Although sweeteners did cause weight gain in animal studies, reaching the equivalent amount in humans would require us to consume hundreds and hundreds of tins of diet drinks daily to experience the negative consequences were seen with rats.

Artificial sweeteners have minimal calorie value, so by using them as a substitute in our diet for high-calorie drinks, they can actually help reduce our total calorie intake, allowing us to lose weight.

5. Eating fats

Eating fats makes you fat, right? That often-heard advice is part of the reason low-fat diet trends still run strong.

However, our fat intake does not relate directly to whether or not we lose weight, but our total calorie consumption does.

It’s true that fats are more energy dense than protein and carbs (they contain nine calories per gram compared to four calorie in carbs and protein), so a higher fat intake can cause our calories to add up quicker.

Regardless of how much fat we choose to eat, if it doesn’t cause us to overshoot our calorie needs, we can still lose weight even when our fat intake is high. Fats, just like carbs, shouldn’t be seen to be the bad guys when it comes to losing weight.

6. Eating too little

The idea of 'starvation mode' (where the body prevents itself losing weight when we feed it too little) remains a popular explanation for those struggling with weight loss.

However, there’s no evidence to support it even exists. We actually need to be in a state of starvation in order to lose weight and do so by being in a calorie deficit.

7. Skipping breakfast

Still think breakfast is the most important meal of the day? As far as weight-loss goes, it actually really doesn’t matter.

As with eating into the evening, the timing of our calorie consumption plays next to no role in our ability to lose weight.

If we eat breakfast and still consume too many calories throughout the rest of the day, we won’t see the weight-loss we want, but if we skip breakfast but finish the day in a calorie deficit, we will manage to lose weight.

Breakfast doesn’t even offer us the metabolic boost we’ve been told it does. Don’t force yourself to eat breakfast just because you’ve heard it’ll help you lose weight and focus on your calorie deficit across the entire day instead.

Want more advice and tips as to how to work closer towards achieving your weight-loss goals? Make sure to check out my Facebook and Instagram for daily content.

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