May 13, 2013

5 Weight Loss Myths

weight loss mythsWeight Loss Myths

We all know the importance of exercise and dieting. Both exercise and dieting play vital roles in weight loss. Weight loss is complicated and it’s certainly more complicated than burning more calories than you take in. Just as there are exercise myths there are also weight loss myths. Here are 5 of the more common weight loss myths. When we talk about weight loss we are talking about losing fat.

Myth 1: The purpose of exercise is to burn calories.

Reality:  Exercise has many health benefits. Though exercise will help burn some calories that is not its main purpose when it comes to weight loss. Not many calories are actually burned while exercising. Of all the weight loss myths this may be the biggest.

The purpose of exercise from a weight loss perspective is to improve metabolic and hormonal responses. Aerobic exercise, resistance training, and high intensity interval training all improve insulin sensitivity. Insulin is the fattening hormone. The higher your insulin level the more likely you will gain weight and the more challenging it becomes to lose weight. Exercise helps to lower insulin levels.

Resistance training and high intensity interval training can stimulate release of growth hormone and testosterone both of which will make it easier to burn fat and maintain muscle mass. A pound of muscle burns two to three times as many calories as fat at rest.

Myth 2:  Skipping meals or fasting is a simple and easy way to lose weight.

Reality:  There are health benefits to a short-term fast, but paradoxically losing weight isn’t one of them.  Fasting does create a beneficial stress on the body that stimulates it to run more efficiently. The problem is when the fast is over.

You may lose some weight by fasting or skipping a meal, but you are not going to lose as much as you think. One reason for that is the body’s metabolism slows down which means you are burning fewer calories than you would normally.

Secondly, there is a tendency to overeat at the next meal sabotaging your efforts.

Myth 3:  Low fat foods are low in calories.

Reality:  A gram of fat does contain more calories than a gram of carbohydrates (about 9 calories per gram for fat and 4 calories per gram for carbohydrates). Fat enhances taste and increases satiety or sense of fullness.

To improve the taste of low-fat foods sugar and its namesakes are added – so much so that low-fat versions many times contain more calories per serving than the full fat version. Plus, because low-fat foods do not provide a sense of fullness, there is a tendency to over consume them.

Myth 4:  Eating late at night has no bearing on weight gain.

Reality:  While we are asleep the body and brain are quite active. During deep sleep growth hormone is released and growth hormone improves body composition. High insulin levels right before bedtime interfere with the release of growth hormone. Insulin is produced in response to carbohydrates. So if you need something to eat late at night pick a food that is protein or fat based which will not affect insulin levels.

Myth 5:  A calorie is a calorie.

Reality:  If you been to this site before you know that a calorie is not a calorie. The source of calories is important and determines the hormonal and metabolic processes that store and utilize those calories. Low fat (high carbohydrate) diet are associated with the burning of fewer calories making weight loss more challenging. Low glycemic and very low carbohydrate diets are associated with increased calorie burning. So there are good calories and bad calories.

How many of these weight loss myths have you been fooled by?  By the way, though it may taste great, eating pizza won’t help you lose weight.



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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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