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Common Myths in Weight Loss and Dieting
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Weight Loss Myth No. 1: Muscle weighs more than fat

Fact: A pound is still a pound.

Would you rather have ten pounds of bricks or ten pounds of feathers dropped on your head? Most people will say feathers, but this is a third grader's trick question. Equal weights of any substance still weigh the same. I read the phrase that muscle weighs more than fat even in the popular press because it's a catchy phrase that no one bothers to think over.

Muscle is more dense than fat, so a pound of muscle takes up less physical space than a pound of fat. For an experiment take a pound of meat, place it next to a pound of flour. Which takes up more space?

Weight Loss Myth No. 2: Drinking lots of water will cause your stomach to grow

Fact: Stomachs can expand and shrink, but not grow. I read this the other day, and about burst from laughing. Stomach's don't grow or shrink but if you consistently stuff a stomach to overfull it will accommodate the assault. The same thing happens when you deprive a stomach of food. It will lose elasticity and then no longer be able to handle huge amounts of food. This is why a person who has been deprived of food for long periods (prisoners of war for example) cannot rush out and eat everything in sight the day they are released.

Our bodies are amazingly adaptable but you can't suddenly grow a bigger stomach any more than you can grow a longer arm.

Weight Loss Myth No 3: Carbohydrates make you fat

Fact: Carbohydrates are necessary for life.

The myth that carbohydrates are not necessary for human nutrition is simply untrue. You will not survive for very long without some carbohydrates.

Your body converts carbohydrate into glucose, which is then converted into glycogen. Glycogen is the brain's primary fuel source. Your body can manufacture glycogen from other sources in addition to carbohydrate. Each molecule of carbohydrate binds itself to four molecules of water, which means the greater amount of stored glycogen, the greater amount of water as well. Hence, during the induction phase of the Atkins Diet for example, you will deplete your stored glycogen, which will in turn reduce the amount of water stored in your body. Instant weight loss - yet this is a temporary and false weight loss because you can rapidly regain the lost water simply by eating a small amount of carbohydrate! The induction phase is a way to "jump start" your efforts and cause that nearly instantaneous result which in many cases is all it takes to put a person on track to stick with it.

Switch from processed foods, converted rice, crackers, breakfast cereals with more than 50% added sugar, and all the other junky foods you've been eating, and start eating fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, and brown rice. In other words, bring more unrefined foods into your life and let go of the steady diet of refined, fast foods. You'll see an almost immediate difference in how you feel and how you look.

The main confusion comes from the over processed junk foods which people have come to call carbohydrates. Yes, they are highly refined carbohydrates and could be eliminated entirely from your diet with no ill effects. The carbohydrates to which I'm referring are those complex carbohydrates such as beans (also high in protein), grains, rice, vegetables and fruits.

--- When you eat carbohydrate, the body changes much of it into glucose, the chief source of energy for the body. Glucose that is not needed immediately is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles for later use.

Although eating carbohydrate 30 to 45 minutes before exercise raises insulin levels and lowers blood glucose, these effects are temporary and will not harm performance. In fact, consuming carbohydrate an hour before exercise can improve performance (5). Carbohydrate feedings 3 to 4 hours before exercise also enhance performance by "topping off" glycogen stores (6). Consuming carbohydrate during workouts lasting longer than an hour aids endurance by providing glucose for your muscles when they're running low on glycogen (7,8). Finally, taking in carbohydrate right after several hours of hard training increases muscle glycogen storage (9).

Active people and athletes require dietary carbohydrate to maintain their muscle-stored glycogen, the predominant fuel for most sports. They gain weight only if they consume more calories than they expend. When this happens, they should blame their forks, not the carbohydrate.

Weight Loss Myth No 4: Bananas and other fruits are fattening

Fact: Have you ever seen a fat monkey? Why would any sane person refuse to eat natural foods like bananas but happily chow down an entire bag of low fat cookies in one sitting?

Don't be afraid to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. You might be interested to know what the majority of people who maintain a healthy weight eat? Not surprisingly, it is balanced with from 50 - 60% whole food carbohydrate, 20 - 30% protein (with lots of fish included) and 10 - 20% fat (including olive oil, nuts and seed sources). Most also eat very little fast foods, and don't consider any foods good or bad. They just eat what they enjoy, and have learned to listen to their body's signals of hunger and satisfaction.

It's a mystery to me why someone would happily eat a pound of bacon but shun a fresh orange.

Weight Loss Myth No. 5: Protein helps to burn storage fat

Fact: Eating a certain food, no matter what that food, does not cause the body to burn storage fat. Nor does eliminating or drastically reducing an entire food group (carbs) solve the puzzle of weight loss. Sorry, but it's not that simple. If it were, we'd have solved the problem of out-of-control obesity long ago.

Weight Loss Myth No. 6: Calories Don't Count

Oh if that were only true! I love nuts, all nuts. Almonds, cashews, macadamia, brazil, hazel nut, pine nuts, any and all nuts, I could easily eat a pound a day. Nuts don't have any carbs, so what's the problem. Go ahead and eat up, right? Wrong. One ounce of raw almonds is 164 calories, and one pound of almonds contains 2,624 calories. Try adding that to your daily food intake and see what happens. You'll gain weight (or simply not lose any) and it won't be muscle.

I've known people who "snacked" on a pound of bacon a day. That's 732 calories in addition to their other food. This same person would shun the idea of eating a large fresh apple (125 calories) because it "has too many carbs."

If you're eating low carb but have stalled in your weight loss, take note of the total calories you're eating on average. If it's above your body's requirements, then you'll stay heavier than you want to be.


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Kathryn Martyn Smith, M.NLP EFT Weight Loss Coach
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