Every year I tend to go through the same cycle – during the Winter I eat more hearty foods, I don’t get outside much and my exercise routine can be inconsistent around the holidays – so I put on a few pounds.
Then Spring rolls around and I get more focused on moving my body and shedding weight.
I’ll admit, in my younger years I used to adopt some pretty extreme habits to lose weight without realizing that it would negatively impact my health and my metabolism in the long run.
Restrictive dieting and intense workouts always left me feeling deprived and depleted. It took me a long time to get out of the mindset that I needed to punish myself in order to lose weight.
I’m sure there’s a lot of men and women who are still in that mindset, so I thought I would share 5 “diet culture” myths to ignore that can be harmful instead of helpful:
1. That you should eliminate carbs and sugars
I have seen a lot of posts circling online about how carbs and sugars (even natural ones from fruit) should be avoided when trying to lose weight or live a healthy lifestyle.
This just isn’t true and is why I disagree with the keto diet. Our bodies need carbs and sugars. Every cell in our body runs off of sugar. Carbohydrates are our body’s main source of energy and we need them for our metabolism, brain function, thyroid function and liver detoxification.
Simple sugars such as fructose, glucose, sucrose and lactose are some of the best sources of carbohydrates and can be found in honey, fruits, milk and root vegetables such as carrots and potatoes.
Avoiding carbs and sugars will help you to lose weight in the short term but in the long term it will hurt your health and metabolism, leading to weight gain, fatigue and intense sugar cravings.
I suggest getting your sugars from natural sources like fruit, maple syrup and honey but even white sugar is okay in moderation as long as you’re receiving adequate nutrition from other sources.
Be sure to pair carbs and sugars with a protein to help keep your blood sugar regulated.
2. That you should only consume low fat foods
Many people still believe that consuming fat will make you fat, but this is yet another outdated myth.
Fats keep you fuller for longer, help to stabilize blood sugar and help to regulate your hormones. All of these things play an important role when it comes to losing and maintaining weight.
Consuming the right kind of fats are crucial for good health and help your body to absorb and transport fat-soluble vitamins.
Low-fat diets will leave you feeling constantly hungry, suppress your hormones and restrict vitamin and mineral absorption.
Be sure to incorporate lots of healthy fats into your diet and avoid products that are marketed as “low-fat” as they almost always have unhealthy additives and high fructose corn syrup added to them.
3. That you should avoid saturated fats
There is a very common misconception that saturated fats are bad for you and cause weight gain, high cholesterol and clog your arteries.
This is outdated information based on studies by a man named Ancel Keys. He based his research on seven countries that supported his hypothesis but failed to report on the 16 other countries that not only did not support his hypothesis but downright disproved it. Most of these studies were also done on unhealthy people.
Because of this, healthy fats such as butter, ghee, coconut oil, cheese and eggs have been demonized.
60 percent of our brain and 50 percent of our cells’ membranes are made of saturated fats. Saturated fats protect our body and decrease inflammation.
Eating a balanced diet that contains a good amount of saturated fat will help to stabilize your blood sugar and boost your metabolism.
The fats you do want to avoid are polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) which are chemically unstable, oxidize in your body and wreak havoc on your health and metabolism. The worst offenders are canola oil, vegetable oils and any nut or seed oils.
4. That you need to do a lot of intense cardio
If you hate cardio as much as I do, this will be great news: you don’t need to do hours of cardio every week to lose weight! In fact, too much cardio can be harmful.
While cardio will burn a lot of calories while you’re doing it, it puts the body under a lot of stress. That stress causes your resting metabolic rate to go down which means you’ll burn less calories when you’re not working out.
Walking, Pilates and Yoga are all great ways to get your body moving without putting it under too much stress. Strength training is also a great way to boost your metabolism since the more lean muscle you have the more calories your body will burn while resting. Just be sure not to over-do it.
5. That you should do intermittent fasting to lose weight
This one is a bit of a controversial one and something that I’m not 100% sure of myself, but I’m going to give my opinion based on my own experience.
There’s information showing that intermittent fasting can be beneficial and there’s also information showing that it can be harmful.
I did intermittent fasting for years and here’s my take on it: it is good for weight loss and weight management because of calorie restriction but I do think it may be harmful in the long run.
While some people claim intermittent fasting can boost the metabolism, this just doesn’t make sense to me. When the body does not receive fuel (food) for a long period of time, it goes into survival mode and slows down the metabolism so less energy is being used and more fat is being stored.
Our liver also needs energy from food to function properly so depriving your body of energy for long periods of time doesn’t seem like the best idea, especially when the modern world puts a lot of stress on our bodies daily.
It also seems unnatural to ignore our body’s hunger signals and this is one of the main reasons that I decided to stop intermittent fasting.
I do believe in giving your digestive system a break when it needs it but still nourishing your body with calories from fruit juices/smoothies and broths as opposed to consuming no calories at all for prolonged periods.
So there you have it! I hope this helps you to change your mindset and your habits surrounding weight loss and weight management.
Always listen to your body and give it the time it needs to lose weight while also remaining nourished and healthy. Xo.