For many women the idea of wearing a bathing suit at the beach, or – especially! – the pool in Charlotte is more anxiety than fun. Save yourself the frustration of working hard at things that don’t work by checking out these myths and facts:
1. Myth: Salads = skinny. Order salads when you’re out and you’ll lose weight.
Fact: calorie deficits = weight-loss. Salads are often one of the highest calorie menu items, but they get a pass because of the “salad” halo.
Examples: Panera’s Fuji Apple Salad with Chicken has 570 calories; and a Big Mac has 563. Or, step up to the California Pizza Kitchen’s BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad (with grilled not fried chicken) with 1,133 calories; whereas a Big Mac and large fry is only 1,073 calories.
Bottom line: use the nutrition information available online to help you pick foods that you enjoy in quantities that will help you lose weight.
2. Myth: Fruit makes you fat because the “high” levels of fructose cause insulin resistance, etc.
Fact: eating fruit helps most people lose weight, and fructose only seems to contribute to insulin resistance if overall calories are too high. Having fat cells that are constantly over filled drives the inflammation and insulin resistance that people on Facebook blame on fructose alone. Additionally, Americans get their fructose from soda, juice, candy, etc. not fresh fruit.
Bottom line: Fruit is a convenient low calorie-density food, and helps people feel full for long periods of time. However, fruit juice and dried fruit are the opposite of fresh fruit because they pack tons of calories into small spaces just like candy and soda.
3. Myth: Exercise doesn’t help weight loss. Both Time and Scientific American (SciAm) have promoted this idea recently.
Fact: Leisurely walking does not help people lose weight. What Time and SciAm omitted was context. The research they were referring to was about walking slowly for short periods of time. While walking is a great, adding 90 min of very slow walking to your week will not move the scale.
There is ample evidence that a balanced exercise program (includes strength training) is a vital part of losing weight and keeping it off. Exercise, especially strength training, helps to (a) suppress appetite, (b) prevent the loss of muscle (metabolism) during weight loss, and (c) makes it easier to make better food choices.
Bottom line: you can’t out-exercise a bad diet, and it’s nearly impossible to keep weight off without consistent exercise.
4. Myth: Only work the body parts you want to tone.
Fact: toning exercise don’t burn enough calories to help tone anything. A toned look is the product of: (a) shrinking the layer of fat under the skin to reveal the muscles underneath, and (b) maintaining or increasing the size of the muscle you want to tone.
Body-fat is like a bathtub full of water – when you remove a cup of from the tub, the entire tub does down vs. anyone spot. You can’t spot reduce. Exercises that only focus on “trouble spots” like the back of your arms, or very light weights for very high reps don’t burn enough calories to help you lose fat, and might not be intense enough to help you even maintain your muscle mass.
Bottom line: Focus first on compound exercises, like push ups for the back of the arm, that work many muscles; and add extra “toning” exercises because you enjoy them and if you have time left over.
5. Myth: Quinoa helps you lose weight because it’s a “super food.”
Fact: “Super food” is a marketing term with no scientific meaning. Quinoa is actually a high-calorie starch. A cup of plain old white potatoes has 120 calories, whereas a cup of quinoa has 222 calories. Since the only thing that leads to weight loss is a calorie deficit, and feeling full matters, quinoa may not be a great choice for weight loss.
Bottom line: adding super foods to your diet may just add extra calories. Just because a food is currently trending doesn’t mean you have to eat it. If you want to lose weight focus on creating a sustainable calorie deficit eating foods that you enjoy (and, of course, use common sense and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables).
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