The diet and weight loss industry reaches far and wide. All you have to do is reach out with your fingertips to find troves of people and companies who are more than willing to share with you their secrets, methods, formulas, and plans.
Some actually work. Some dietary plans have a strong foundational basis which prove beneficial, while others include some myths, wives tales, and bro-science that are just plain harmful.
- Fad Diets will help you lose weight…. And keep it off.
- Lifting weights will cause me to bulk up.
- Eating after 6 p.m. leads to weight gain.
- Natural or herbal weight loss products are safe.
- Low fat or no fat = no calories.
- And False
It really is that simple
Fad diets are popular for the same reason consumerism is highly popular. There is someone somewhere peddling their ideas of what works and what doesn’t. Every fad diet is based on some sort of restriction, exclusion, or taboo food group or macronutrient (which we’ll get to in just a moment). They promise quick results, which we all buy into. We want to lose those extra vanity pounds, or maybe those extra not-so vanity pounds, and we want to lose them quickly.
The fact of the matter is that fad diets will often kick our bodies into starvation mode. Simply put, we didn’t evolve as a species by eating the “healthiest” of foods, and certainly not by modern standards. Biologically, we evolved to eat foods to survive. Our ancestors were, for a very long time, always one meal short of starvation. When our bodies are starving, they’re storing every single thing they can for use later.
We see this on NatGeo or Ourplanetdaily with Polar bears, and sea lions. Homo sapiens may be more intellectually self-aware, but biologically, the concept applies. The statement “fad diets will help you lose weight and keep it off,” is false because of the “keep it off part.”
It’s true that the Atkins diet, the Mediterranean diet, and the mustard diet will help you lose weight in the same way a polar bear loses most of its body mass during hibernation. However, once you come off that diet, like a bear exiting the den, your body will go into survival mode. If you’ve never experienced this, it’s quite interesting.
You see foods you normally despise, or distrust and you feel a deep biological pull to destroy by consumption. You become a ravenous beast as you plow through the loaves of bread and boxes of doughnuts because your body knows that it’s been starved of these foods for a while.
Even if you don’t “choose” to leave the den, or come off your diet, you brain will eventually win out over your self-control and you’ll binge. Then the interesting thing happens. You’re eating again.
You’re not starving any more. Having been in starvation mode, your body will furiously pack every micro bit of nutrients, fat, and carbs into your body somewhere to save for the next time you enter starvation mode like a scrat burying his prized acorn.
As a result, most dieters- more than 90%- gain back most of their lost weight. Much of the time, they gain it all back, or all plus some.
Lifting weights is often seen as a way to bulk up. For most men and some women this is true. However, bulking up like those competition lifters we see on bodybuilding dot com takes concerted effort, hours a day of training, and serious focus. Unless that’s what you’re specifically going for, you’re not in danger of being a woman who looks like a man mid roid-rage.
However, built muscle has three primary benefits.
- Muscle burns more fat, lending higher caloric burn during workout the more muscle you have
- Shapes your body
- Weighs more than fat while taking up less space
Choosing to not eat after a certain time of the evening can have unintended negative consequences. Remember above where we talked about what the human body does in response to starvation mode?
Well, this idea of not eating after 6 p.m. is not really in line with modern demands. Many people don’t get home until after 6 p.m. Some not even before 8 p.m. This leaves two options:
- Eat greasy and unhealthy fast food
What are the consequences of both or either of those options? If you choose to go without dinner and go to bed starving, any meal you eat after will provide more nuts for scrat to horde (so to speak).
Natural or herbal weight loss supplements are neither necessarily safe nor unsafe. A couple of decades into recent history makes this point. At one point, ladies in the neighborhood were popping ephedra like it was the second coming only to find out that people were dying.
Ephedra, like arsenic, is natural. But it’s just not safe. No natural or herbal remedies are monitored by the FDA and should be approached with extreme caution.
Finally, this idea that no fat or low fat equals no calories is false. Calories are a unit of measure kind of like a Cup or kilowatt hour. They’re used as a way to measure the fuel a certain food can provide your body. Fat comes to 9 grams per calorie.
Carbohydrates and Proteins come to 4 grams per calorie, and alcohol is 7. Your four macronutrients are Fat, Carbohydrate, Protein, and Alcohol, and these have to balance out in some way.
Chances are that if you have a food that is low in fat, or has no fat, the difference is made up in carbohydrates, or proteins.
Remember, there is a lot of bro-science, and myth roaming around out there. Look for more than one source of information that can provide their own resources. Also, if it sounds like a miracle or if it’s a “little known secret” run.