With a new fad diet on the market every day and conflicting information about the best way to lose weight, it can seem nearly impossible to sort out what information is legit and what is just an over-rated tip that you don’t really need to follow to a tee. I’ve put on my detective hat to take a closer look at a few of the most prevalent weight loss tips and to consider why you might not need to follow them religiously.
Food eaten after 8pm is converted to fat because your metabolism slows down while you sleep.
While your metabolism does slow down while you sleep, it doesn’t stop completely and will continue to digest that midnight snack you just couldn’t resist. One of the main truths to this theory is the fact that by not eating after dinner, you’ll lower your caloric intake. But there’s no magic time when you need to stop noshing. In fact, if you’re a night owl, not eating in the evening is like skipping a meal: you’ll put your body in starvation mode so it holds onto every last calorie the next time you eat. Nevertheless, you’re still better off stopping the food train a few hours before bed. Just put it all into the context of your own day. When did you wake up? What time are you going to bed? It’s pretty straightforward.
Counting and restricting your caloric intake is the best way to lose weight.
The calorie has no basis in the nutritional reality of our food. In fact, it’s an arbitrary measurement of how much energy is needed to raise 1 gram of water by 1 degree inside a bomb calorimeter while a particular food is being burned. Calories aren’t exactly the enemy, and they are not all created equal. Focus on eating nutritionally dense meals so that you feel sated and your body gets the fuel it needs. That doesn’t mean you won’t lose weight if you cut back on calories; you will. You’ve just got to make sure that the ones you do decide to invest in are quality calories that promote a healthy body and mind.
If you want to lose weight, cut the carbs.
Carbs are our body’s main source of fuel, so cutting them out completely is actually detrimental to our health. The fear comes in because our bodies store unused calories as fat. But, like calories, not all carbohydrates are the same. Simple carbs, like those found in processed foods and alcohol, contain few nutrients, can cause blood sugar spikes, and are more likely to find a place to rest around your middle. On the other hand, complex carbs like those in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are highly nutritious and provide a stable source of energy. Sure, the Atkins Diet has helped lots of people lose weight around the middle, but you need to follow it meticulously in order for it to work. That means ending a protein-filled, carb-free day with a glass of wine cancels everything out.
Fat makes you fat.
Our bodies need fat. It’s essential for our brain to function, forms the basis of our cell membranes, and provides cushioning to our vital organs. And like any nutrient, it’s needed in moderation. Some fats can even aid in weight loss, like those found in avocado and coconut oil, as they help your body more effectively absorb and utilize other nutrients. Sure, you don’t need the fat from a hot fudge sundae, so don’t use this as a ticket to indulge in the kind of fats with no nutritional value; you’ll only be fooling yourself.
No fad diet is going to produce the unbelievable results they promise, at least not in the long-term. The truth is, we all know the key to effective weight loss and healthy living: eat sensible portions of meals made from whole foods and exercise regularly. It may not be easy, but it’s that simple.