Has anyone ever recommended you try a low calorie diet?
Some of the most prevalent myths related to nutrition science have to do with calories. However, you might be surprised to learn that they aren’t as important to weight loss as you originally thought. Are you focusing too much energy on calories? Here are the 8 most pervasive calorie myths.
Myth #1: The way you lose weight is by putting out more calories than you take in.
If that were true, couldn’t one lose weight eating nothing but ice cream and tater tots? It’s a low-calorie diet, right? Some people have actually attempted exaggerated versions of this myth with gimmicks like the ‘all-Twinkie diet’. It is very possible to lose some weight this way… however, the bigger problem is that focusing only on calories in vs. calories out completely ignores the importance of food quality. No matter how many calories you consume, it’s still important to consume plenty of vegetables, protein, healthy fats, and other foods with valuable nutrients.
You could certainly eat nothing but junk food for the rest of your life. However, you would probably have a very short life and you would leave yourself open to the probability of having issues with heart disease, high cholesterol, and many more health problems. Beyond that, many people report that despite having a low-calorie diet and exercising adequately, they still have trouble losing weight.
Myth #2: All calories are created equally.
Similar to the first myth, this one persists in a slightly different way. Our bodies respond differently to different types of food. Believing in food equality is exactly how many overweight people end up bigger, to begin with.
A low calorie diet will not work when you eat nothing but junk.
They may have very well been eating a perfectly normal amount of calories, but were taking in way too much sugar in the process. Often times, even fruits can make you fat. Strictly because of the sugar content int them. A common culprit of weight gain is soda. Though soda is just sugar water and doesn’t contain many calories, removing it from your diet is one of the easiest things you can do to lose weight.
A scientific study tested this myth directly, and completely debunked it. Just like the low-calorie diet. (1)
Myth #3: Food labels count calories exactly, and correctly.
Even the most conscientious, knowledgeable people get fooled by this myth. The amount of calories that are actually in a food can fluctuate wildly from what is listed on the label. At the most, calorie counts are only a good guess at what the food actually contains.
Though they’re a good guess, they’re nowhere near completely accurate. It’s estimated that the FDA has around a 15 to 20% leeway when it comes to labeling approved foods accurately. It’s one of the way’s manufacturers get away with calling their products part of a low-calorie diet. (2)
Restaurants are even more guilty, as they’re notoriously inaccurate when it comes to calorie counts. Therefore, it’s much better to cook for yourself at home. Your calorie counts still won’t be completely accurate, but you’ll know every ingredient in your meal and have a lot more control over what you’re consuming. It will also save you a lot of money over time. Focus on your paleo shopping hacks. Who doesn’t like more money?
Myth #4: It matters when you eat calories, and you should never eat at night.
You may have heard people say not to eat at night if you’re trying to lose weight. In reality, your body doesn’t care when you eat food. Of course, it’s not a good idea to eat a bunch of ice cream before bed, but that’s because of the ice cream, not the hour. Many fad diets require their followers to eat within certain time windows. Some allow you to eat whatever you want in that time frame. Do not try diets like these. They have been repeatedly debunked by reputable studies.
Myth #5: Calorie counters are accurate, and will help you lose weight.
The 1990’s were a time of great advancement in technology and many other important industries. They were also a terrible time for the advancement of nutritional science. Many of the worst, and sometimes even dangerous, nutrition myths were created and popularized in the 1990’s. These eventually led to us to calorie counting. This behavior can border on eating disorder behavior. Counting calories becomes the entire life of many who do it and they often become paranoid and/or neurotic.
We’ve already shown that calorie counts are not even accurate. All calories are not equal to one another. They certainly won’t help you reach your goals with a low calorie. A much better way to lose weight successfully, than worrying about every calorie you consume, is to learn. Start educating yourself on what 3 balanced, healthy meals look like, and eat that, along with a couple healthy snacks through the day.
Some people like to use a pedometer to measure every one of their footsteps and everything else in their lives. However, this measure of fitness is very far from being accurate enough to rely on. A better course of action is to simply make a schedule of regular exercise, and do it. Walking as much as possible while sitting as little as possible is still great advice. However, many who count their footsteps end up getting obsessed over nothing.
Myth #6: Exercise is important only because it burns calories.
You might have been taught that the most important thing about exercise is burning up extra calories. What’s best? A workout and a low calorie diet, right? WRONG. Nothing could be further from the truth. Exercise does many things for our bodies, including building muscle and lowering stress levels, and studies show that it’s even important for our brains. When we exercise as little as 20 minutes a day, we improve our health and the way we feel exponentially.
Myth #7: Weight loss is equal to fat loss.
We refer to weight loss and fat loss like they’re the same thing, but it isn’t true. One of the main reasons why low calorie diets don’t work is because they burn away muscle along with the fat. To look and feel your best, you only want to burn off fat—something that is done by eating quality foods, not less calories.
When you eat the right kind of food, your body will tell you how many calories it needs, and your metabolism will benefit. Do not try a low calorie diet. It won’t work.
Myth #8: The more you sweat, the more calories you burn.
This one isn’t entirely a myth, but it’s not entirely true, either.
When you sweat during exercise, it’s a good sign that you’re getting a workout. However, someone who is very fit might actually sweat less than someone who is out of shape. The exercise burns calories, not the sweating. (3)