Myth #1: You need to eat [insert random number of calories] to lose weight
Fact: How much you need to eat depends on what your calorie expenditure is each day.
In order to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you are burning. Ideally, you want to keep your deficit as small as possible to help minimize muscle loss. Yes, it may take longer but it will make it easier to maintain in the long run because your metabolism will be higher than if you lose a lot of muscle.
When we lose weight quickly we lose muscle mass along with fat, since muscle requires more calories to maintain that also equals a slowdown in your metabolism which makes it more and more difficult to continue to lose weight. It also makes it harder to maintain as you would need to eat less to be in maintenance.
Myth #2: You must eat breakfast to lose weight
Fact: Eating breakfast is not a must for losing weight.
Despite what you may have heard, your metabolism doesn’t “shut off” while you sleep. Your overall calorie intake throughout the day is what determines your energy balance. If you love eating breakfast in the morning (like me) then keep on eating breakfast. But if you feel like you’re going to gag trying to eat first thing in the morning it’s okay to hold off until you’re hungry. The one exception would be if you train first thing in the morning; try to have something even if it’s just a banana so you have something to fuel your workout.
Myth #3: Eat small frequent meals to fire up your metabolism.
Fact: Eating small, frequent meals is not necessary for fat loss.
If that’s what you prefer, go for it, but it’s not going to give you any great advantage. Your total caloric intake over the course of the day is what matters.
I will, however, note that small frequent meals can be helpful if you have GI issues.
Myth #4 : You must not eat fast food or frozen/convenient meals to lose weight.
Fact: you can lose weight eating just about anything.
We’re all busy and while it would be lovely to only eat fresh, home-cooked meals, that’s just not realistic for most of us. As noted above your total calorie intake relative to your caloric expenditure dictates fat loss/gain. Most fast food restaurants have more macro friendly options. Grocery stores are carrying more and more better options for quick meals. I found a frozen salmon bowl from Saffron Road at the grocery store the other day for $3.99. It had 17g protein and less than 500mg of sodium. Just because it’s convenient doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad for you.
Myth #5: Fat is the enemy.
Fact: Fat is necessary for proper hormone production and proper uptake of fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K).
It also forms our cell membrane; provides an energy source; and provides two essential fatty acids our bodies can’t produce. Fat is not the enemy, however where your fat comes from matters. Omega 3 fats help with protein synthesis, which is important for muscle growth.
Omega 6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids and should be a part of your diet. Your body cannot make them so you do need to consume them. However too high a ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids can lead to increased inflammation. Ideally your ratio of omega 6 fatty acids to omega 3 fatty acids is 1:1. Unfortunately we tend to eat in ratios closer to 16:1.
So what are omega 3 and omega 6 fats?
For more info click http://www.precisionnutrition.com/how-o3s-work
Myth #6: You can’t eat sugar if you want to lose weight
Fact: There is no evidence that your sugar consumption is directly correlated to your weight-loss.
In other words, eating lots of sugar won’t make you gain weight, and eating no sugar won’t make you lose weight. As I’ve mentioned before, you must be in a caloric deficit to lose weight. That being said, high-sugar foods tend to be more calorically dense (meaning they have more calories per gram) and also tend to be hyper-palatable making them much easier to overeat. It’s pretty easy to overeat cake, donuts, candy, etc. broccoli and cauliflower? Not so much.
So make sure you’re hitting your calorie and macronutrient goals for the day, emphasize whole, mostly unprocessed foods, and if a cookie or piece of chocolate fits your diet and helps keep you on track go for it. It’s going to be much more beneficial to have one cookie every day than it is to swear off sugar, think of nothing but cookies, and eat the entire bag at the end of the week because ‘cheat day’. Example: if you eat one oreo every day that’s 490 calories over the course of the week. If you binge and eat the whole package? 2520 calories. That’s a difference of 2,030 calories.
Ultimately you know yourself better than anyone else and everyone is different. This is what generally works, but if you know that you feel better staying away from sweets and it doesn’t cause you to binge, by all means, carry on.
Myth #7: The bigger the calorie deficit the better
Fact: While a bigger deficit will most often lead to faster weight loss, it will also slow down your metabolism more, cause a greater loss in muscle mass, and make it harder to progress when you hit a plateau, and even harder to maintain your results.
This goes back to point #1 and that losing weight quickly ultimately sets us up for failure. Our bodies are smart and they’re hard-wired for survival. When food intake is lowered, our bodies work to preserve energy in order to maintain our weight. Your body will work to make you move less, so while you may be eating less and exercising, you may actually be moving less and using less energy overall throughout the day compared to before you cut calories. The less drastic the cut, the less your body is going to fight to keep the weight. As we all remember from The Tortoise and The Hare: slow and steady wins the race. Keep the deficit small and the weights big.