These days there is no shortage of nutrition and fat loss myths that mislead you and make reaching your goals that much more difficult.
As if nutrition and fat loss weren’t confusing enough, when you think you have to follow a bunch of unnecessary rules it only makes sticking to the plan even more difficult without any better results.
In fact if a nutrition myth makes it more difficult for you to actually stick to the plan then it’s worse for your fat loss results in the long term.
Today, we’re going to look at why not following these nutrition myths will allow you to create a diet you actually enjoy, and can use to reach your goals.
Myth # 1: XYZ Diet is Better For Fat Loss
Fat loss is the result of creating a calorie deficit.
This means you’re eating fewer calories than you burn on a consistent basis.
This can literally be done with any diet you choose, and studies have all shown that when calories and protein are matched there is literally no difference in results for fat loss.
Every diet does help the followers to create a calorie deficit in a unique way by removing or changing food choices.
Let’s take a quick look at how some of the common diets restrict certain foods and reduce calories:
Vegan diet: Removes animal products - Eating fewer calories
Paleo diet: Removes processed foods - Eating fewer calories
Ketogenic diet: Removes denser carbohydrates - Eating fewer calories
Flexible Dieting: Calorie & macro tracking - Eating fewer calories
At the end of it all pick a diet you actually enjoy eating and can stick with, there is no perfect fat loss diet that boosts your fat loss.
If you’re constantly hating how you eat then your chances of actually being consistent for long enough to get results is low.
Myth #2: Eat More Fat To Burn More Body Fat
In full honesty I used to believe this myself back in my low carb and keto days when I demonized carbohydrates and sugar all the time.
When you take out pretty much all denser carbs, and then eat a lot more fat you will burn more fat, however it is dietary fat.
By heavily restricting carbs, and eating a lot more fat you shift your body over to using fat as a main source of fuel.
As we covered in the very first myth, there is no diet that boosts your fat loss and you still need to be in a calorie deficit to lose body fat.
One thing to keep in mind is if you do go on a low carb diet you will likely drop 3-8 lbs of water weight relatively quick which is encouraging when you have a long fat loss road ahead of you.
There’s a number of reasons that a low carb higher fat diet might work better for you than other diets you’ve tried but it’s no better for fat loss than a higher carb diet when calories and protein are the same!
Myths # 3: Carbs, Fats or Sugar Make You Gain Body Fat
You can gain body fat from any food that you eat, it’s not specific to carbs, fat or even sugar.
This is because gaining body fat is the result of eating more calories than you burn on a consistent basis.
Think of it this way, if there’s no extra calories from carbs or fats what is the body putting into fat stores ?
Because your body cannot create body fat out of thin air, it’s a basic scientific law.
However there are people out there who have proven this showing that calories are the biggest driver of fat loss in something named “the Twinkie Study.”
Mark Haub is a professor of Human Nutrition at Kansas State University, who wanted to prove to his students that overall fat loss is controlled by calories.
Not low carb or high carb diets, but someone’s overall calorie intake
The experiment was to eat 1,800 calories a day for 10 weeks of pretty much all junk food high in carbs, fats and sugar.
His diet was almost exclusively twinkies, doritos, hostess cakes, oreos, sugary cereals, nutty bars, and muffins.
These were thought to be the worst kind of foods you could eat if you wanted to lose body fat, but Dr. Haub’s results beg to differ.
At the end of the 10 week experiment Haub lost 27 pounds, and lowered his overall and “bad”cholesterol (inaccurate as it’s not really cholesterol but you get it)
However before you go out and but the entire supply of twinkies at the local store replicate his experiment keep in mind that food quality and calories both matter for your health and fat loss.
Carbs, fats and sugar aren’t fattening, eating too many calories on a consistent basis is!
Myths # 4: Your Metabolism Slows Down As You Age
Who hasn’t heard this one right ?
Every middle aged person who gains a few extra inches around their mid section chalks it up to a slow metabolism.
You swear that you eat the exact same and you’re just as active as when you were younger.
But is that really true…
Let’s take a closer look at what exactly is going on that causes so many of you to gain weight as you age.
Most people assume they burn way more calories at the gym than they do in their day to day activity, but this couldn’t be more off for people who aren’t professional athletes.
You day to day activities that include typing at your computer, fidgeting, going from standing to sitting, walking, doing the dishes, dancing, yard work, or playing with your dog actually burn quite few calories each day.
For some people it’s in the ballpark of an extra 1,000-1,500 calories per day is burned through conscious and unconscious movement known as non exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT)
As you get older your daily movement in the form of NEAT can decrease dramatically, and with that you will burn far fewer calories.
More Calorie Dense Food and Inactive Social Events
When you get older a lot of your social events tend to revolve around, alcohol, tasty easy to overeat calorie dense foods and are very inactive in nature.
BBQ and happy hour take the place of things you used to do in the past like playing in rec league soccer or going for day hikes frequently.
We can see your metabolism doesn’t flip a switch and start slowing down, but you move less and likely take less trips to the gym so you burn fewer calories.
On top of that you eat more calories, or even the same amount of calories as before when you were more active but now that you burn less the difference is what becomes your body fat.
Myth #5: If You Eat Too Little, You’ll Go Into “Starve Mode”
The idea of “starve mode” is that when you eat very low calorie for a long period of time your body kicks into this evolutionary state where you will store the food you eat as body fat even if you’re knuckles deep in a calorie deficit.
If this was actually possible, no one in third world countries would ever starve to death as they’d only gain fat the closer they got to starvation.
There are some reasons to explain why people don’t always lose weight when eating very low calorie diets.
One of the very first ones is that the person isn’t eating as low calorie as they think, a lot of those bites, licks and samples at the grocery store are actually adding up a lot more than they think.
Secondly when someone is dieting on low calories for a long time that is not only physically but psychologically taxing as well which can very easily result in late night eating or binging that’s embarrassing to talk about.
Unfortunately most people don’t burn nearly as many calories as they think they do on a daily basis, regardless of what your fitbit or iphone tells you.
A lot of people are sedentary throughout the day which results in a low calorie burn, and for those who have a smaller framed you burn even fewer calories at rest and during exercise as well.
Lastly as you diet and lose weight the body adapts and becomes more efficient by burning fewer calories at rest, and during activity.
This is your body’s way to balance out the calorie equation you’ve tilted in the direction of fat loss.
If you’ve lost weight you’ll naturally burn fewer calories because a smaller body requires fewer calories to keep running.
Another way the body cleverly makes you burns fewer calories is by moving less. This includes less walking, more sitting, reduced fidgeting and other unconscious movement that will decrease.
Your body will also make you burn fewer calories during workouts as a way to be more efficient with the calories you’re eating.
BONUS: Myth #6: You Have To Eat Breakfast To “Kickstart” Your Metabolism
There is literally nothing that makes breakfast any more important than lunch or dinner during the day.
The fact remains that eating in general “boosts” your metabolism because your body burns calories to get energy from your food, but the amount you burn through digestion is easily offset by the food you eat!
In fact if fat loss is your goal skipping breakfast isn’t a bad move as it helps to remove those calories from your day, and a lot of folks aren’t really hungry until mid day anyway.
There’s zero difference in fat loss or your metabolic rate when if you choose to skip breakfast.
If you enjoy breakfast, then go ahead and eat it; if you’re not hungry in the morning, feel free to skip it.
Calories matter far more than any food or macronutrient group for fat loss, if you’re in calorie deficit you’ll lose body fat if you’re in a surplus you’ll gain body fat.
There’s no perfect fat loss diet, and eating more fat doesn’t help you lose more fat unless it helps you to be in calorie deficit.
Your metabolism doesn’t slow as you age and starve mode isn’t real, but there are a lot of other reasons why you may not lose weight on lower calories.
Lastly there is nothing important or special about breakfast, skip if you you’d like or eat if you’d like doesn’t matter for progress.