Reality check: Weight loss myths busted!

There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to losing weight. Is fat-free food good? Why should you lift weights if it can make you heavier? There are many assumptions floating around out there – it’s time to bust those weight loss myths!

MYTH: Lifting weights will make me bulk up

FACT: Not true. Women’s bodies aren’t really designed to bulk up, so your muscles shouldn’t grow huge unless you’re truly putting effort towards doing it (i.e. taking supplements to increase your testosterone levels etc.). If you do high repetitions of challenging smaller weights, your muscles should tone up rather than bulk up. Mixing up your workouts with weights and cardio is great for weight-loss as stronger muscles will help you to burn fat faster.

MYTH: The number on the scales is all that matters when it comes to losing weight

FACT: Not so. Muscle weighs more than fat, so if you’ve been doing weight training and strengthening your muscles, you may initially be a bit heavier than if you’d only done cardio work (though your body will look better for having done the weights workouts as your measurements will shrink even if the scale number doesn’t!). Instead, get a tape measure, ditch your scales and aim for healthier measurements.

MYTH: Eat fat-free foods and you’ll shed those kilos in no time!

FACT: When fat is stripped away from food, it generally doesn’t taste so great, so what do companies tend to add to packaged foods to make them taste good? Sugar! And if you don’t burn off that sugar by being active, what does it turn into? Fat! See what we’re getting at? Just make sure you eat a well-balanced diet with good portion sizes and exercise regularly.

MYTH: Skipping meals will help me lose weight faster

FACT: It could very well do. But like all living things, we go into ‘survival mode’. If you skip meals, your body may think your food supply has cut out and try to hold onto all that energy to store it for you. Not to mention that you’re risking your bone strength if you’re extreme dieting without exercise. Rather than skipping meals, ensure you eat healthy portion sizes of healthy foods.

MYTH: Miracle machines and diet pills from infomercials will help me lose weight

FACT: At the end of the day, it simply comes down to this: If you want to lose weight, your energy out (exercise, daily activities) must be more than the energy you’re taking in (food and drink). Sure, if the miracle machine makes you exercise then you may lose some weight, but put it down to the fact you’re doing something that uses up energy rather than the machine itself!

MYTH: If leftover carbs turn into fat, then less carbs = good, right?

FACT: Not necessarily. A balanced diet is important and carbohydrates are part of that. While you don’t want to go overboard with them, carbs break down in your body to give you fast energy. Without them, you may feel sluggish and cranky. Would you go driving your car with no gas in the tank? No! So don’t do it to your body! (though remember, you don’t need to ‘drive’ your body at night because you’re going to sleep, so try to keep the carb intake lower in the evening). Not all carbs are equal though, so try to make sure the carbs you do eat are wholegrain, nutritious options rather than processed ones such as white breads, donuts and cakes!

MYTH: Sports/energy drinks are great for fuelling a workout

FACT: Many sports drinks are uber-high on energy, so if you’re goal is weight loss, it’s not a good idea to have them unless you’re doing a LOT of exercise (90 mins or more at a relatively high intensity). Good old water is the best option!

Photo / FreeDigitalPhotos.net – David Castillo Dominici

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