It seems like everyone has a new, trendy and attention-grabbing remedy for weight loss and well-being. With all the books, products, food and flurry of information out there, it’s easy to get confused. Or worse yet, set yourself up for failure. But take heart! Here's the skinny on some common myths.
Truth: Nope. What's new is the packaging. All effective diets do exactly the same thing: reduce calories. No matter how they do it — low carb, low fat, high protein — the basic premise remains: eat fewer calories than you burn. Jumping into the Whole30 and Keto diet fads may not be the best fit for you, so be smart about what is most effective for your needs and lifestyle.
The bottom line: You make the difference when it comes to success. No diet is sustainable if it doesn’t fit your preferences or commitment. Finding the right fit — and making it a lifestyle change — leads to success. It’s also essential to make sure you’re getting the right nutritional balance. Eating all your daily calories in cabbage or steak isn't going to lead to better health.
Truth: Not necessarily. Make no mistake: Exercise has important health benefits all its own. But that doesn’t always translate to weight loss. The key is to burn more calories than you take in. Studies show that people overestimate the number of calories they burn by as much as four times! For example, you burn an average of 100 calories for every mile you walk at a moderate pace. Most people guessed two or three times that. Those incorrect assumptions can lead to overeating which means you still take in more calories than you burn.
The bottom line: Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand. You’re trying to create an ongoing calorie deficit, which means your body burns more calories than you eat. Because different foods support further physical development (bones, muscle, energy), it’s also important to get those calories from the right foods. So think twice before rewarding yourself with a donut for climbing the stairs.
Truth: This is a dangerous assumption. If you skip meals — or dramatically reduce your calorie intake abruptly — your body may think it’s starving. Survival programming kicks in, which means it will hold onto reserves (that’s fat!) for dear life. Your weight loss could slow to a crawl or stop.
The bottom line: Figure out how many calories you should eat to lose one to two pounds a week. Several websites offer calculators to help you find this number. Regardless, experts recommend keeping your calorie intake above 1,200 per day — any less and you’ll risk going into starvation mode.
If you're enrolled in a GuideStone® medical plan with Highmark, you can use our Wellness Tools and Programs page to find some handy wellness and weight-loss resources.
Truth: Very few people can say this truthfully. While there are medical conditions that slow metabolism and lead to weight gain, they’re not very common. In fact, someone who is overweight actually burns more calories than a healthy weight person to maintain their current weight. That means that the overweight person may have a higher metabolism, not a slow one.
The bottom line: Losing weight is about burning more calories than you consume. That's why exercise — especially activities that build muscle — is vital for weight loss. Since muscle burns more than ten times the calories of fat, building muscle mass helps you create a continual calorie deficit by revving up your metabolism at a lower weight.
Truth: Rarely. Most of the time, the idea of “thin” isn't healthy — physically or psychologically. The cultural pressure to be a certain size is compelling for both men and women. That's why “healthy” is a better goal than “thin”.
The bottom line: A “healthy” weight depends on several factors, including your height, gender and physique. Someone with a petite frame can healthfully carry less weight than someone the same height with a larger frame. The bottom line is that if you're carrying excess weight for your height and build, it’s impacting your health. And if you lose too much, the same is also true. So use balance — not bathing suits — to help track your overall goal.
At GuideStone, your well-being is important to us. If you are interested in being healthy in more ways than just physically, visit our Wellness Hub for more resources.