Our workplace wellbeing consultant and nutritionist, Declan, busts some of the myths around weight management.
One of the greatest things I’ve learnt over the years is to become a CRITICAL thinker. I even went back to university at 27 to learn the art of how to debunk evidence. It has without doubt been the best investment I’ve ever made.
Unfortunately, not everyone loves reading through research papers until 11pm most nights, therefore finding the truth when it comes to health advice can be mind boggling to the point where you get pushed from pillar to post.
Not no more, below are the most famous myths exposed. I’ve even linked to well conducted studies if you fancy geeking out. Yes, Ladies and Gents, here is the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
“CARBS MAKE YOU FAT”
Just like fat doesn’t make you fat, neither do carbohydrates. What is probably driving weight gain is water retention. For every 1 gram of carbs, you’re going to hold about 3g of water. Ever notice what happens when you cook pasta in boiling water? – Yep, the pasta absorbs the water! This is exactly what happens in your body.
The authors in this study put it correctly “Among persons living in a controlled setting, calories alone account for the increase in fat”
LOW FAT DIETS = WEIGHT LOSS
Low fat diets do not equal weight loss, while cutting fat can make a dent in energy intake, people often compensate with an increase in calories somewhere else – usually sugar. Often food sources marked ‘low in fat’ are high in sugar compensating for the reduction in fat intake.
Cutting out fats, particularly healthy fats will also make a dent in your own health seen as they’re vital for the following:
Brain & heart health
Strengthening your bones
Boosting your immune system
Healthy skin and hair
Weight loss is driven by an energy deficit and that’s it. Just one of the many studies that proved this is this one the authors tested two different fat reduction programmes with the same deficit and came to the following conclusion : “The negative energy balance alone is responsible for weight reduction.”
“EATING SATURATED FATS CAUSES HEART DISEASE”
Another one from the fat shaming community, driving people to throw their butters, cheeses and fatty meats out the window of their car.
Although you should absolutely be mindful of unhealthy fats such as trans fans that have been processed more than your local fast food chain, saturated fats are not responsible for people upsetting their ticker and shouldn’t be avoided at all cost.
So have some butter on your toast if you want. A meta analysis observing nearly 350,000 people concluded that “ intakes of saturated fat was not associated with an increased risk of CHD, stroke, or CVD.
“IT’S MY GENETICS THAT STOP ME LOSING WEIGHT”
Don’t blame your mum and dad for your genetics, a review studying 9053 random control trials concluded that individuals carrying genetic traits respond equally well to dietary, physical activity, or weight loss interventions. You can still achieve weight loss/fat loss goals despite genetic influence, don’t predetermine your success before you’ve even got started.
“SKIPPING BREAKFAST SLOWS DOWN YOUR METABOLISM”
This whole idea of skipping breakfast and it automatically slows down your metabolism doesn’t have any merit. Studies on those who are in really good shape and those who are not show that is just not true.
If you are not a breakfast person, then don’t beat yourself up. You might be a brunch person or more of a late lunch person. The key here is trial and error, if skipping breakfast drives you to binge throughout the rest of the day leading to eating more than you normally would then you should consider including breakfast.
If it doesn’t do that and you feel fine with just staying hydrated, and it actually helps you stay within your energy needs, then that’s what works for you – Keep doing it.
“THE MORE YOU SWEAT THE MORE YOU BURN CALORIES”
Sweat is your body finding a way to regulate your temperature through evaporation on the skin.It’s NOT fat leaving your body and turning up the heat isn’t going to speed anything up expect your thirst.
It’s easy to lose sight of most important principles when it comes to health with so much conflicting evidence out there. Look beyond a newspaper article and use credible resources which are independent before jumping to any conclusions.
If you fancy learning more, come say hello over at the nutrition and weight management group for busy professionals here.
Would love to know if this was worth your 5 minutes in the comments?
Declan is a workplace wellbeing consultant for Health@Work and the Workplace Wellbeing Charter and specialises in exercise, nutrition and weight management. If you’re interested in support around Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in the Workplace, click here