Fact: The scale is necessary. When you are on a diet to lose weight, your body weight does not follow a straight downward line. It fluctuates up and down exhibiting an overall downward trend. If you step on the scales every single day, you become aware of these periodic “ups”, and this may discourage you or even sabotage your initial enthusiasm. Therefore, weighing yourself every day may sabotage your weight loss efforts. Weighing yourself in longer intervals (i.e once a week) is absolutely necessary to lose weight effectively.
Fact: Starvation is never good for weight loss. Restricting your calories is necessary for weight loss. However, you need to be aware of two things. First, there is a limit to calorie restriction. Usually, going lower than 1,000 calories a day for an extended period of time becomes unhealthy. Starvation lowers your metabolism—the rate you burn energy. You will surely lose weight following a crash diet but when you start eating again you will gain weight much easier because you are not burning calories as fast as you used to prior to starting the crash diet. Secondly, severe calorie restriction sets the stage for nutritional imbalance. It’s almost impossible to follow a crash diet and ensure that you are taking the necessary nutrients at the same time. Calorie restriction must be moderate and carefully planned to safeguard nutritional balance.
Fact: You cannot use slimming pills indefinitely. Drugs have side effects, and herbal supplements are just an aid that cannot rescue you from poor food choices and physical inactivity. Ultimately, you have to learn how to eat properly and exercise.
Fact: Organic foods cost more than regular food. Healthy food need not be organic, though, and therefore it can be pretty cheap. You can buy cookies that are full of trans fat and sugar or buy healthy ingredients (oats, brown sugar and eggs) to make healthy cookies yourself cheaper.
Fact: Snacking is good. The question is, what do you snack on? It’s 4pm and the vending machine is whispering your name. Instead of reaching out for the 440 calories Drake’s Apple Fruit Pie, get the 180 calories Nature Valley Granola Bar with Oats & Honey, or reach out in your bag for the Protein & Greens smoothie you have brought from home.
Fact: Drinking water does not accelerate your metabolism. It does, though, make you feel full especially when taken before a meal. Some times thirst can be confused with hunger. You feel you want to snack but once you gulp down a glass of water or fruit juice, hunger has disappeared, and you have just saved your body from storing in its fat reserves this 200-calorie cookie.
Fact: As you age your metabolism goes down. This is because your composition changes. A 70-year old man has typically less muscle and more fat than a 20-year old man of the same weight. Therefore, with a metabolism facing downward year after year, you need to decrease your daily caloric intake and/or increase your physical activity in order to maintain your weight.
Fact: Cheating from time to time is a good thing. In fact, many weight loss programs are now adopting a “weekends off” approach. Cheating is for many the key to successful weight loss. This is because when you take a day or two off you get a mental break enjoying the foods you like. Moreover, by eating more calories during the non-diet days you apply the principle of “calorie shifting” which helps speed up your metabolism.
Low calorie diets abound. Yet, none of them works in the long term. In a desperate effort to lose weight, some people adhere to a very low calorie diet. They lose some weight and they get excited. Sadly, they lose muscle, too. As a result, their metabolism decreases and weight loss reaches a screeching halt. They soon realize that it is impossible to stay longer on that low calorie diet and they quit. They return to their normal eating habits until they decide to try another low-calorie diet. This pattern is typical to Yo-Yo dieters and it is haunted by the myth that it lowers your metabolism permanently.
Fact: The change in the metabolism brought about by Yo-Yo dieting is reversible. What you need to do to bring your metabolism back to the desired rate is to exercise and eat a healthy diet that promotes muscle gain. Muscle building is the remedy to a wrecked metabolism.
Fact: In the long run, strength training burns more calories than aerobic activities. There are two reasons that explain this: First, aerobic activities burn energy only during the time they are performed. Once you step off the treadmill you stop burning fat. In contrast, strength training keeps your metabolism high even 24-48 hours after the activity has been performed. You can lift weights for 30 minutes today, but you will keep burning fat even in your sleep or when you watch TV a day later. Second, strength training results in muscle gain. Muscle tissue is metabolically active and burns calories even when you sleep.