Should I eat low fats, or more proteins? What time of day is best to have carbohydrates? Here’s the low-down on common weight loss myths.
1. “Eating fruit is always healthy.” This is very simplistic and will make you prone to failure when it comes to weight loss. Fruits do contain a lot of good things – antioxidants, vitamins, fibre, etc. But the bad thing about fruits is the presence of fructose (literally translates to “fruit sugar”). Fructose increases insulin levels much more than other kinds of sugar. High insulin levels make you hungrier and will lead to snacking, or, over time, high insulin levels cause insulin resistance and the development of metabolic syndrome and diabetes. When you want to lose weight or control your sugar, have one or two portions of fruit per day, not an entire orchard.
2. “Fats in your food will make you fatter.” Since the 1970s, the food industry has demonised fats. This also coincides with the “fat free” movement, as well as the start of the developed world’s obesity and diabetes epidemic. Small and regular amounts of both saturated and unsaturated fats are, in fact, helpful in reducing your overall body fat. Fat deposition and hunger are governed by a complex set of hormones with names like leptin and ghrelin. Simply put, when your body is not getting the amount of fat it expects from your diet, it will respond by making more and holding on to it since it thinks you are starving. So try and stick to a good ratio of fats like omega-3s and fish oil. Remember low fat DOES NOT necessarily mean LOW CALORIES! Your usual salad dressings and sauces that say low fat are, in fact, high in sugar. It’s better to go for the normal “more fat” version and just restrict the quantity you have.
3. “A calorie is just a calorie.” 1 gram of carbohydrates will get you about 4 calories. A gram of protein is about the same and a gram of fat yields a whopping 9 calories. The old logic goes: by filling up on more proteins and carbs, you would have less calories overall, since the carbs and proteins yield less calories. This kind of logic totally ignores the fascinating way your body interprets and deals with these individual nutrients.
As the Atkins diet showed us, you CAN have TOO MUCH protein, leading to skin, kidney and, very possibly, liver issues. So most experts in the past have cut out 1 gram of fat and replaced it with 2 grams of carbs. Those carbs tend to increase our insulin levels, causing the now infamous insulin resistance. Those added sugars also lead to increased hunger and eventually a host of hormonal problems, along with making us just plain fat.
Fats, on the other hand, tend to suppress appetite and normalise hormonal function. Fats decrease inflammation and are needed for the NORMAL functioning of every organ in the body.
So let’s learn to avoid such mindless myths. Let’s enjoy the complexity and beauty that make up our body and just give it what it needs to help us Grow Fit!