You’re probably sick and tired of all the conflicting information out there pushing all these rules of weight at loss at you, then changing them almost daily.
One guy says “eat this!” Then the other one says “stay away from it!” One guy says “Oh, you gotta do Cardio every single day! You can’t lose weight without it!”
If it makes me crazy, I can imagine how it makes you feel. Sometimes it’s harder to figure out what to do than what not to…
The biggest issue I have with these mixed messages is that almost all of them are coming from “self-proclaimed” guru/experts.
Most never sat a day in a classroom learning how things work or don’t inside your body, where it all starts and ends.
So, all I can offer is what I’ve learned over 40 years as a heart and diabetes specialist, an educator and a licensed exercise physiologist. Here’s my spin on all of this.
1. Cardio Exercise: Let’s get this right out front, You DO NOT need to do a lot of cardio (if you’re new to this, think Aerobics).
➡ Spending hours on mindless treadmill workouts, or spinning the wheels on a bicycle, is not an efficient way to lose weight.
If Cardio is all you do, your body is going to slow down your metabolism to conserve energy (it’s tired!).
No energy=No fat burning=No weight loss if that’s all you do.
➡ Instead, try a combination of interval training (alternating high and low-intensity exercises).
This works because your body uses up your calories to repair and build new muscle as it is recovering from exercise.
➡ What’s more, the new muscle you build will also burn more calories when you’re not doing a thing, which will keep your metabolism up to speed all day long.
And here’s a secret the guy trying to sell you a gym membership will not tell you:
➡ It’s not necessary to rely only on exercise to lose weight. Exercise in and of itself is not the key to weight loss.
In fact, a 2016 study published in the journal Current Biology shows that our bodies adjust to higher levels of activity after a few months – resulting in a drop in weight loss — even a reversal — after a few months.
Simply put, your body gets used to the higher levels of activity and you stop losing weight…in fact, you may even put some on.
“Exercise is not part of the weight-loss formula,” according to Wendy Scinta, M.D., president-elect of the Obesity Medicine Association.
“Weight loss is all about what goes into your mouth.”
But don’t let that stop you (or become an excuse) from working out. Exercise is important for your overall health.
2. You DON’T need to buy a particular product.
My personal pet peeve, and that of many, many, physicians, is believing that any one single product can help you lose weight effortlessly. That advice usually involves gimmicky infomercials…just like “fad” diets.
➡ The human body doesn’t respond to being tricked for very long, so save your money and focus instead on the one thing that is tried and true for health, longevity, disease prevention and weight loss: A healthy diet and regular exercise.
➡ It always comes back to how many calories you ate vs how many you burned. Period. There are ways to boost that, but there are no magic or “quick” formulas that will last.
➡ The same goes for workout routines. Instead of relying on a single type of exercise, cross-train by trying a variety of them.
➡ Above all else, do something that you’ll come to love, whether it involves dancing to music at the gym, practicing yoga, taking Pilates classes, or just taking a walk with a friend or sweetheart every day.
3. No, you don’t have to kill yourself to get a “six-pack” abdomen.
➡ A flat stomach does not necessarily equal a healthy body.
As I’ve said in many articles before this one, it’s where the fat is stored in your body that matters the most. A flat stomach can still be hiding that lethal “visceral fat” which is really what we need to focus on eliminating.
Read about that here:
A lean, mean, well-defined stomach may show the world that you’re working out, but killing yourself to get that will not keep you motivated in the long run. And motivation is what it’s all about: It’s all about Your Reason for exercising.
The one thing I’ve seen that people who have been successful at weight loss have in common, is that they did it for their overall health, not just to look better sporting tight buns and a six-pack.
Exercise does so much more than flatten your abs and build your biceps…
➡ It strengthens your heart
➡ It improves your posture (which also protects your spine)
➡ It increases bone density
➡ It generates endorphins (the feel-good chemicals) in the brain
And the same goes for eating nutritious foods. A healthy diet isn’t just for making you look good.
➡ Good nutrition provides the energy your body needs to work and prevents chronic illness.
5. You DON’T have to give up gluten
It’s just simply not true that a gluten-free diet is a great way to lose weight.
➡ The gluten-free diet is only healthier for people with gluten-related disorders, such as celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
In those cases, a gluten-free diet is needed because gluten causes an adverse, autoimmune reaction in the body.
In turn, that reaction can damage a person’s intestines and lead to serious health problems.
➡ Stay away from generalizations. A diet containing Gluten does not necessarily equal an unhealthy diet for everyone. Your “overall” food choices are what make the difference in your health, and the only thing that matters.
6. You DON’T have to skip meals.
➡ “Saving calories” by skipping breakfast and/or lunch can easily backfire and is not a recommended weight-loss tactic. In fact, it’s one of the worst things you can do.
➡ As soon as you skip meals, you get hungry.
➡ Hunger causes irritability and lack of concentration That’s likely to affect your work and personal life as well as making you more likely to snack or overeat.
A healthier option is to eat five small meals a day. This keeps you full, fires up your metabolism and reduces your intake of snacks.
➡ Be sure to keep meal portions small and focus on nutrient and fiber-rich vegetables to keep you full between meals.
7. You DON’T have to overload on protein.
A particular food isn’t necessarily going to help you lose weight just because it has protein in it!
Protein has exactly the same amount of calories in it as carbohydrates (four calories per gram), and a food or product that’s high in protein doesn’t mean it’s not also high in sugar. I regularly see protein bars that have more calories in them than a chocolate candy bar.
And, when it comes to losing weight, the combination of nutrients you take in doesn’t matter as much as the number of calories you eat in a day.
➡ To lose weight you need to take in less than what you’ll burn…that’s always been the bottom line.
8. You Don’t have to cut fruit from your diet
Many diet plans ban fruit due to their sugar content, but this doesn’t take into consideration the type of sugar contained in the fruits.
➡ What matters is how this fruit sugar affects your blood sugar levels based on its fiber and water content.
Fructose, the sugar contained in fruits, is actually absorbed slowly by the human body and does not cause a rise in blood sugar. In addition, the fiber in the fruit helps to:
➡ Slow down the absorption of carbs during digestion
➡ Helps lower cholesterol
➡ Curbs hunger
9. You DON’T have to eat only fat-free foods.
Banning butter and all fat and choosing fat-free versions of all your favorite foods can leave you feeling deprived.
➡ Multiple studies have shown that dieters are most likely to stay on a diet if they get their “fat-fix.”
➡ When you cut fat completely, your body feels deprived and makes it nearly impossible to stay on track with your weight loss efforts. So much so, that it causes dieters to end up quitting.
➡ Instead of going fat-free, enjoy the natural, “real” versions of food, but in moderation. You’ll be more likely to stay on the path to successful and permanent weight loss.
And remember, the manufacturers of fat-free products usually compensate for the lack of fat with lots of sugar, which ends up working against you.