One of the reasons I decided to get a certification in nutrition coaching is because I was sick and tired of all the conflicting weight loss advice out there. After I had bariatric surgery and started hanging out in Facebook groups and forums, I heard even more scary misinformation! Even now, in groups of other health coaches, I hear some crazy stuff. Sometimes I’m like, “Where did you GET that?”
So today I’m busting some common myths.
Myth: Calories are King
This is an ironic one because we distribute CalorieKing books in our diabetes prevention classes. And I myself lost 30 pounds by counting calories using MyFitnessPal in the months leading up to my bariatric surgery.
So obviously, calories are important for weight loss. If you eat and absorb a ton more than you use, then your body’s wisdom will store some for later. Calories matter.
But, they are not the “be-all and end-all” of weight loss. For starters, counting calories is highly inaccurate. It is so easy to underestimate calories going in and overestimate calories burned through activity.
Also, let’s think about the reasons people eat more calories. Let’s focus on the causes.
People eat too many calories, not because they’re hungry, but because they feel sad, lonely, or bored. Or maybe because they’re tired or stressed. Or maybe even because they’re happy and celebrating. And all these feelings interact with our gastrointestinal, nervous and hormonal systems; all of which influence our calorie intake.
Myth: To Lose Weight, Just Eat Less and Move More
Well, then we’re all in tip-top shape, right? Because people have been doling out this advice (myth) for years.
The premise of this is based on the above myth that calories in minus calories out equals your weight. So, eat fewer calories, and burn off more calories (because human physiology is a simple math equation, right?).
Even if people can happily and sustainably follow this advice (which they can’t!); it completely negates other factors that contribute to weight problems. Things like the causes of overeating we mentioned above. Not to mention our genetics, health conditions we’re dealing with or our exposure to compounds that are “obesogenic.”
This is why the classes I facilitate are as much about how we can control our environment, deal with emotions, and problem solve as much as they are about healthy eating.
Myth: A calorie is a calorie
Can we please put this one to bed already?
Science has confirmed several caloric components of food differ from others. For example, the “thermic effect of food” (TEF) is that some nutrients require calories to be metabolized. They can slightly increase your metabolism, just by eating them.
For example, when you metabolize protein you burn more calories than when you metabolize carbohydrates. Proteins and carbohydrates both have 4 calories/gram; but, the TEF of protein = 15–30%; and the TEF for carbohydrates = 5–10%.
Here’s another example of a calorie not being a calorie. Different fats are metabolized differently. Medium chain triglycerides (fats) (MCTs) have the same 9 calories/gram that other fats do; but, they’re metabolized by the liver before getting into the bloodstream and therefore aren’t utilized or stored the same way as other fats.
More importantly, just because you may be eating fewer calories and losing weight, doesn’t mean you are healthy. I lost a lot of weight on the ramen noodle, cigarette, and Jack & Diet Coke diet in my 20s but I definitely do not recommend it!
Myth: Buy this supplement/tea/food/magic potion to lose weight
There is no magic pill for weight loss. No supplement, tea, food, or other potion will do the trick.
It drives me crazy to see “friends” participate in “free” online challenges only to be sold overpriced supplements, shakes, etc.
There are products that make these claims, and they’re full of garbage (or shall I say “marketing gold?”). The only thing you will lose is your money (and possibly your hope). So, please don’t believe this myth. There is a reason most people who lose weight can’t keep it off. The real magic is in adopting a sustainable holistic and healthy approach to living your life. What you need is a long-term lifestyle makeover, not a product.
Weight loss is hard! There are too many people out there trying to make it sound like they have the simple solution (or the latest and greatest!).
Don’t fall for the myths that say:
- Calories cause weight gain, and fewer calories are the path to weight loss.
- “Eat less move more” is good
- A calorie is a calorie.
- Buy this supplement/tea/food/magic potion to lose weight.
Need help developing healthy habits? I have a limited number of private coaching slots available! Email me at wendy @ wholisticwoman.com for more information.