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Former makeup enthusiast and bookworm. Currently adopting a minimalist lifestyle. Contact me at phylliciarobert@gmail.com for inquiries.
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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Common Weight Loss Myths and Misconceptions

Before I go any further, I would like to make a disclaimer. I picked up on these misconceptions through talking with the women that I met at the Nutrition Club and my intention is to clarify these myths, not to air anyone's dirty laundry to all and sundry.

Also, I am not a nutritionist nor am I an expert. Far from it, I am just a regular girl who has read a mini library worth of books on nutrition and weight-loss for the past 8 years on my life in an attempt to find ways to slim down. I myself had once believed in these myths and I'm sure that there are others out there who do too.

Last but not least, I explain in my own words and not using bombastic scientific terms so if you're a dietitian, a doctor or someone who studies sport science/nutrition and you stumble across this post, don't hang me for not using the 'correct' terms.

Now that I have put that out there, lets get on to some of the common misconceptions about losing weight:

Myth 1
Don't eat, you will lose weight faster
The truth is, when you don't eat you won't be able to lose weight! Think of the body's metabolism like a car. A car needs fuel to run right? Same goes with our body's metabolism. It needs food in order to burn energy (namely fat, which is excess energy) in our bodies or else it turns sluggish and slow down, burning less.

Without food, this is what our metabolism would look like...

Another thing to remember is that the body is very adaptable and, kind of have 'a mind of it's own'. When we don't eat, our bodies go into 'starvation mode' by slowing down its metabolism to preserve energy because it 'thinks' that we are stuck in a dessert somewhere with nothing to eat! By slowing down the usage of energy, our bodies will be able to survive longer without food until we get 'rescued' (or so it thinks). Pedahal orang mati2 nda makan supaya kurus. Hehe...

Myth 2
All that matters is what the scale shows (aka the scale is God)
This is not necessarily true. Undeniably as we lose the excess fat on our bodies we will lose weight. However, weight loss is very relative to a lot of factors. Fluctuation in water intake, hormone changes, stress, lack of sleep, muscle development or loss, etc can make it seem as if you're losing, gaining or maintaining your weight (walaupun sudah exercise macam mau mamp*s selama beberapa minggu).

For example you do strength training for two weeks and when you weigh yourself, the scale shows no reduction in numbers. It doesn't necessarily mean that you're not losing fat. The weight that you've lost in fat might have been replaced by increased muscle mass from strength training.

The best way to measure is using your clothes. If you're getting slimmer, your clothes will be looser. No need to obsess too much over the numbers on the scale.. :)

Myth 3
Must.Not.Eat.After.Dark.. *faint*
While this is not a total myth, there are mixed views regarding this. The majority agrees that not eating at night is key to weight loss. There are others though that think it's not so much of when you eat but what and how much you eat that matters.

Granted, at night we wind down and relax from our busy day, thus not exerting as much energy or needing much 'fuel' as during the day time. However, not eating at all at night will result in you feeling famished in the morning (making you wanting to eat everything in sight) or even worse, having the munchies in the middle of the night.

Having a serving of something light such as plain crackers or fruit at least 2 hours before bed time will prevent this from happening. If you are still Hell-bent on not eating anything after 7pm, know that it's a good idea to drink a glass of milk about an hour before going to bed to prevent midnight trips to the fridge.

Myth 4
Rice is the ENEMY! Die rice! Die!
There is so much animosity towards rice in the 'Dieting World' that you'd think that people would rather see the late Osama Bin Laden alive and kicking rather than eat a spoon-full of rice. Personally, I've always believed that everything that Allah SWT has created for us and  has NOT commanded us not to consume (meaning any food that is Halal) is okay to eat but portion and balance is key.

Brown rice is a good option as it is a hi GI (Glycemic Index) type of carbohydrates (from henceforth will be called carbs)**. If you don't like the taste of brown rice or if it's hard to find, you can always eat white rice but keep the portion small. Eat using a smaller plate and fill 1/2 of it with vegetables (another type of hi GI carbs), 1/4 with a source of protein (preferably fish or chicken) and the remaining 1/4 with rice. Allow a small space for fats such as sauces or condiments.

**Confused? Basically hi GI type of carbs are the ones that contain lots of fiber, making it hard for our digestive system to breakdown. This releases energy slowly, making us feel full longer.

Low GI carbs are the opposite. They provide us with a spike of energy and drops our blood sugar level to an ultimate low, making us feel hungry all within a short span of time. Foods with low GI carbs includes anything that is high in sugar and low in fiber. So remember this formula peeps. Hi GI carbs , good. Low GI carbs, bad. 

Myth 5
All low-fat/no sugar/zero calorie foods are God-sent for the waist
Wrong! In fact, most low fat/no sugar/ zero calories thingamajig contains sky high levels of sugar (yup even the 'no sugar' ones) or other forms of sweetener such as corn syrup (and no, it's still not good for you even if it's made out of corn) and chemicals to make up for the lack of taste after the fats have been removed.

More often than naught, we're better off eating the real thing (fats and all) rather than opting for the 'low-anything' ones. One way of knowing if the 'healthy' foods are bad for you? Take a look at the ingredients. If you can't pronounce more than one of them in the list, put it back on the grocery isle.

As for myself, I would pick butter or mayo over the light versions of both any day. The original ones have more flavor as compared to the light versions and thus a little is enough to satisfy the taste buds.. Another danger of using 'light' versions is that people tend to feel that because they are using the 'good' or 'holy' option, they can use more of it. Kind of defeats the purpose doesn't it?

So there you have it, some of the most common weight loss myths of all time (I think). I hope you guys find this useful. Cheers!

P/S: All photos are courtesy of Google search and www.elleandblair.com