Women’s Weight Loss Myths Busted
There is certainly no shortage of health and fitness information on the internet. But not all of it is good. In my 18+ years in the industry, I have seen and also fallen for my fair share of it. So which are the health and fitness myths we need to steer clear of?
Exercise and nutritional sciences are fairly new sciences, we are still learning lots about the amazing capabilities of the human body and it’s an area that is still evolving. We get to approach with an open mind, but also with caution.
Whilst some OG practices have stood the test of time and will always remain, there are some health and fitness myths that really need to be put to bed.
So let’s go myth busting!
Myth #1 Calories Are The Only Focus For Weight Loss
Now don’t get this twisted. Calories do have significance, a calorie deficit is essential to lose unwanted body fat.
But most people think that the body works like a calculator. Work hard to expend more calories, restrict more foods to consume less calories and voila you lose weight.
Whilst this has become a standard practice for so many dieters, the model is failing as it’s just not sustainable for most people, hence the high dieting failure rates.
If you want to truly lose weight and be able to keep it off, beyond calories you must also consider
- Quality of the foods you are eating
- Rest and recovery
- Hormonal balance
- Metabolic flexibility
Myth #2 You Must Only Eat ‘Clean’ Foods
Being overly obsessed with eating clean foods now has its own name and has linked similarities to other eating disorders.
It’s called Orthorexia, an unhealthy focus on eating in a healthy way. Ironic I know!
I’ll admit I have been a proponent of clean eating in my past and I’m not completely discrediting the effect that eating natural whole foods will have on the body after spending years studying nutritional healing.
If you are someone that has been plagued by ailments or chronic unexplained illnesses flaring up, going detective in your diet and making adjustments to food sensitivities and acknowledging your individual nutrient needs is key and should be done with a registered dietitian.
But for people just getting started on their dieting/or health journey severely restricting foods or developing fears around foods can be problematic.
Instead, we need to have more freedom and flexibility around foods instead of fearing them.
Myth #3 Carbs Will Make You Fat
Talking about fearing foods good ole Atkins or more recently Keto has got so many fearing carbs as TOWIE regulars coined the term ‘no carbs before Marbs’ as I still hear people proudly claiming as they get ready to hit their holiday beach body goals.
Carbohydrates are an essential macronutrient and our body needs them to be able to thrive, it’s carbohydrates that give your body energy.
It’s not carbs in essence that make you fat, it’s that carbohydrates are usually highly palatable foods that are also more calorie-dense.
Meaning that it’s really easy to eat lots of them without feeling full. Think bread, pasta, crisps, chips, mashed potatoes, yummmmmm! You can keep on going and going on those types of foods.
But fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains are predominantly carbohydrates too.
So it’s not about cutting out carbs, but rather choosing the ones that will give you energy, provide your body with nutrients and satisfy hunger if you are looking for long-term weight loss success rather than a quick drop in water weight.
Myth #4 How To Spot Reduce Fat
As a health coach, one of the most common questions my clients ask me is…
How can I lose fat from (insert least favourite body part)?
As they grab the fat around the section of the body that they are talking about and wiggle it at me.
A common misconception is that if you do 100’s of sit ups you are going to burn more belly fat. This is fitness myth 101!
Believe me, I have actually a really good 6-pack, but I am apple-shaped and have always held my body fat around my belly. No amount of sit-ups has ever changed that and it’s never made my awesome 6-pack actually visible.
You CANNOT spot reduce fat with exercise, that’s not how the human body works.
There are some areas of nutrition that can support fat loss in specific areas of the body and may be linked to hormonal imbalances. Talk to any middle-aged woman about the meno belly and you will see it’s a thing.
There is also some research that suggests that high-stress levels cause a person to hold more fat around the waistline too.
However, for the most part, your body will distribute fat primarily down to your own body type and genetics.
The only way to lose fat from that one area is to lose fat overall.
Myth #5 You Must Intermittent Fast To Lose Belly Fat
I’m sure it’s not just me who has seen my fair share of ‘intermittent fast to lose belly fat fast’ ads on my social media feeds.
This is another myth, we, need to stop subscribing to. It’s especially relevant to women.
There has been some research showing the benefits of fasting in reducing belly fat, though many have been short-term studies. It’s also unclear if the result was due to fasting, or if it’s just due to a calorie deficit.
More recent research (though there needs to be more) has suggested that Intermittent Fasting (IF) may actually attribute to longer-term weight loss resistance, meaning it becomes harder in later life to lose weight.
Circling back to my previous point and looking specifically at stress causing increases in belly fat accumulation.
Intermittent fasting actually causes stress on the body. Even more so if you are exercising fasted, which is another piece of advice that I see getting touted about that came from the bodybuilding world. Usually prescribing fasted cardio at that.
No food, plus exercise, adds stress to the body.
So whilst it could create that short-term weight loss result, it can have a catastrophic long-term impact particularly active women’s health and belly fat accumulation as women are more stress reactive than men. This is even more important for peri and menopausal women, where this gets exasperated further.
Myth 6# You Must Eat Small Meals Regularly
This is another that comes from the bodybuilding world. The idea is that the Thermic Effect Of Food (TEF) means that eating food actually burns more calories and small meals regularly ‘should’ keep your metabolic fire stoked.
But for the average person, you simply don’t need to be consuming food all of the time, all day long.
You can likely find studies for and against this one, but I feel it’s more important to consider what is going to be more sustainable for the individual in terms of time available, but also being mindful of tuning into real hunger cues.
If you are truly hungry when hunger is felt in the belly, then eat. If you are not then don’t.
Myth 7# Click Bait 10 Minutes To Shredded Abs Workouts
Chloe Ting is the queen of clickbait Youtube titles. I know we all crave the quick fix and it’s those titles that skyrocketed her Youtube channel to over 24 million subscribers, it’s hella good marketing.
The titles however mislead people from the truth of what it takes to get results. But if you put a disclaimer right down and the bottom of your workout description (which barely anyone ever reads), that makes it ok, right?
These titles are all about marketing and not based on actual facts. They tell you exactly what you want to hear and that’s why it works for views and not for your 6-pack.
I could do that ab workout every day for the rest of my life and still never have abs like hers.
Just don’t be naive. You are smart, you do know better. Question anything that sounds too good to be true.
I know the diet myths and promises of the quick fix are sexy and alluring.
But the truth is we all need to keep it simple, focus on the basics, be consistent and come from a health-first approach that also allows you to support your mental health as much as your physical health.
So focus on all round health and wellbeing including diet, fitness and lifestyle factors.
Want to know exactly how to do that?
Enter your email in the box below or to the right and get FREE access to the 5 day Better Body Kickstart programme and get started on your health-focused and sustainable health journey today!