Anyone who’s tried to lose weight knows it can sometimes feel impossible.
No matter how much work you seem to put in, your waistline just won’t budge. It’s a common feeling, because the reality of dieting and weight loss is that you won’t be able to accomplish much unless you know exactly what you’re doing. And thanks to a seemingly never-ending wave of “fad diets” popping up every week, we’re buried in nutritional misinformation. One week protein is the secret weight-loss weapon, then suddenly it’s the worst possible thing you could put into your body. All of this is to say we can’t blame you for feeling a little confused.
That’s why we spoke to Patrick Secord, Professor of Culinary Management and Nutrition at George Brown College in Toronto. If there’s anyone who can tell you how to eat properly, it’s him. So let’s finally set the record straight:
Fatty foods ≠ a fat body
The word “fat” seems to have become synonymous with a body type, when really it’s an essential nutrient. That’s making people scared of eating it for all the wrong reasons. “It’s really sugar that’s the problem,” Secord said. “Your body will just convert it to fat.” In fact, a study out of Harvard University found that fatty foods aren’t all that bad because they actually make us feel full, which means we won’t have to eat again for a while. Sugar, on the other hand, is either burned by the metabolism or immediately converted into fat, leaving us hungry for more. And be wary of “low fat” foods, as they often make up for the reduced flavour by adding a nice helping of sugar:
This product advertises as “fat free” but notice that it is literally 100 per cent sugar.
Skipping meals can make you gain weight
Contrary to what you might believe, starving yourself or being hungry all the time is not an effective way to lose weight. In fact, it will make your body produce unsightly fat. According to a study out of Ohio State University, eating one meal and then fasting for the rest of the day will force the liver to stop responding to insulin while continuing to produce glucose. That’s a fancy way of saying that your liver will continue to produce sugar to make up for the lack of energy you’re not getting from food. And we all know what your body is going to do with that sugar!
You can’t ‘work off’ a bad diet through exercise
We’re always told that burning calories = burning fat, but a strongly-worded editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine says otherwise. A team of British cardiologists say that exercise can reduce your risk of developing a host of health issues like heart disease, certain cancers and dementia, but it won’t promote weight loss unless it’s paired with a healthier diet. “[Diet and exercise] need to work in tandem,” Secord said. So lay off the binge-eating right after a workout.
Drinking fruit ≠ eating fruit
Often when you look at the back of a juice carton you’ll find it will advertise something like “two servings of fruit in every glass.” But, as it turns out, not all fruit servings are equal. A study out of Harvard University found that eating whole fruits was linked to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, while drinking fruit juice was actually found to increase the same risk. Researchers believe that this may have something to do with the speed that fruit juice can be absorbed by the digestive system, combined with its reduced fibre content. But Secord stops short of saying it’s as bad as pop. “There are nutrients in fruit juice that soda doesn’t have.”
Cutting out food groups is usually a bad idea
To function properly, the human body requires a vast array of nutrients that are found in many different sources. That isn’t to say that vegans or vegetarians aren’t healthy, but properly substituting an entire food group requires work and research. “Everything has to work in balance,” Secord said. “To strictly banish something from a diet is generally a bad idea.” Just remember that certain food groups will help you lose weight more than others, so keep your portion sizes under control.
Keep these five things in mind, and you’ll have an easier time achieving your weight loss.