If there’s anything that drives me crazy as a Certified Personal Trainer and a Certified Exercise Physiologist it’s all the fitness myths floating around out there. There are people and companies out there that only want your hard-earned money, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it.
Here are my top 5 Weight-loss myths:
Exercises to ‘bust’ X fat:
I have seen so many articles about exercises that ‘bust belly fat fast!’ or ‘get rid of glute fat with these exercises!’ It literally sends me into a tailspin. I want to comment on those posts and articles, and straighten everyone out. No Personal Trainer, Kinesiologist, or other fitness professional who has any knowledge at all will tell you that by doing crunches you’ll tone down your ‘belly fat.’ You cannot – absolutely cannot – lose weight in specific areas. We are all different, and we all lose it differently. I lose it from the ‘top down;’ others will lose more internal abdominal fat first. Nobody can predict how excess fat will come off your body. There are many measures of fitness that require specific training that will help you to lose excess body fat overall, but targeted weight loss is a myth.
You Only Need to Do Strength Training to Lose Weight
Yeaaaaaahh, no. Strength training is fantastic, as it strengthens muscles and bones, but it’s not going to be enough to really get fit and lose weight. If you’re doing it as part of a circuit training routine, then, yes, it’s great! You need to get your body moving more than just doing reps of strength training exercises. A combination of cardio, strength & conditioning, and a healthy diet is always the best approach. Even competitive bodybuilders incorporate cardio into their routines – it’s part of how they burn off the body fat to show off the muscle development!
Drink/Eat This and Watch Your (insert body fat location here) Melt Away!
I’ve covered this in another post, “There is no Such Thing as a Magic Diet Pill” but here’s the gist of it. There are all kinds of pills, supplements, and even ‘natural’ supplements out there that purport that they will ‘melt away your belly fat,’ etc. They don’t. Period. There is one myth going around right now suggesting that you can melt away your belly fat by drinking apple cider vinegar. As in the first myth listed here, you can’t target body fat loss to specific areas; and, more importantly, nothing but exercise and a healthy diet will help you to truly lose fat, and maintain that loss. Diet pills and supplements can literally kill you in some cases, so don’t believe the hype. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.
Please, don’t even get me started. I won’t mention names here, but we’ve all heard the ads on the radio or seen them on the tv, even using tv stars famous for being obese as their spokespersons. You sign up, pay for your ‘meals,’ and they’re shipped to you. Okay, what’s wrong with that? Well, it’s completely unsustainable. You haven’t learned how to eat properly, how to portion food, and what balance of macro-nutrients (fat, protein, and carbs) you need to stay healthy. Weight loss can only be maintained if you make it a lifestyle change. No matter what diet you choose, if it’s unsustainable, meaning you can’t keep it up for the rest of your life, you will regain weight.
The Keto Diet
This diet is all the rage right now, and closely resembles the diet that our afore-mentioned competitive bodybuilders use, but to an extreme. You will literally cut out almost, or all, of an entire macronutrient from your diet, avoiding carbs completely. While you will see fast results with this, it can be extremely dangerous. It’s called the Keto diet because it causes Ketosis, and possibly Ketoacidosis. This is when low carb intake causes your body to begin to burn fat, releasing Ketogens. If too many Ketogens accumulate in your body, you will enter into Ketosis, a milder form of Ketoacidosis. Even before that happens, your body will enter starvation mode, causing exhaustion, dizziness/loss of consciousness, weakness, and ultimately, you’ll simply stop losing weight. Another issue with this diet is that a lot of the weight – and I mean a LOT – is actually water weight, and you will also start to burn muscle as your body enters starvation mode. If you are on this diet, Ketoacidosis can develop quickly, in less than 24 hours. Ketoacidosis is when your blood has so many ketones in it that it becomes acidic. This can damage or destroy your heart, kidneys, liver, and other organs, and requires medical treatment as the condition can kill you very quickly. Yes, there is a place for it under medical supervision, but I won’t go into it here – usually it’s only used for diabetes patients, people with epilepsy that don’t respond to medication, and in cancer patients to help shrink tumors. Yes, that’s how dangerous it is.
If you’re looking to lose weight, here are my quick suggestions:
-get active. Incorporate strength training 2-3 times a week, and aim to do something that gets your heart pumping for at least 30 minutes a day, 5-6 days a week.
-follow the Canada Food Guide or the American Food Pyramid.
-see a Registered Dietician if you are obese for more advice.
-use Weight Watchers. No, I’m not making money by recommending them. I like the program because it is sustainable – you do learn what you should be eating, and it allows for more normal eating that includes some treats – you’re in charge of that department.
Next time you’re thinking of trying a lose-weight-fast fad, please research it. Don’t read just one article – read lots. Look up what’s good about it, and also look up what’s bad about it. Become educated! Education is knowledge, and knowledge is power! In the age of Google, it’s all at our fingertips, but we have to sift through and sort it all, or we can be mislead.