02.06.2019 Weight Loss

Four weight loss myths

Andrej Kovačević reports on recent research dispelling common misconceptions about weight loss


Surplus body weight is a problematic issue for growing numbers of Australians. The Victorian Government’s Better Health Channel reports that 70% of Australian men and 55% of Australian women are carrying excessive amounts of body fat. Twenty five percent of Australian children are struggling with too much body weight.

Losing this excess weight is not the simple matter some people make it out to be. There are many unfortunate misconceptions being circulated that confuse the issues. Let’s explore what science teaches us regarding four of the most common and pervasive myths about weight loss.

Misconception #1: you should eliminate all fats from your diet when you want to lose weight.

The truth: Fat is not the villain. In fact, consumption of moderate amounts of the right kind of fat is essential for superlative health.

You cannot systematically eliminate all fats from your diet without putting yourself at risk for issues such as hormone imbalances, decreased brain function, sub-optimal heart health, diabetes, anxiety, imbalanced microbiome and – surprisingly – weight gain.

What you need to completely avoid is unhealthy fats such as hydrogenated oils and trans fats.

In contrast to the unhealthy fats, there are healthy fats that your body needs and craves for proper health. Some examples of foods that contain healthy fats include coconuts, avocados and nuts. Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides that can actually help to speed up weight loss. Researchers have determined that daily consumption of nuts correlates to a lower risk of weight gain or obesity. The logical conclusion is that nuts do not cause weight gain, despite their high fat content.

Misconception #2: all calories are equal.

Related Misconception #3: diet and exercise are the only factors that affect your weight. To lose weight, simply eat fewer calories and exercise more.

The truth: The human body metabolises different foods differently. Some foods are more demanding of your body’s resources, requiring significantly more energy for your body to digest.

Furthermore, the particulars of your diet affect both your hormones and your metabolic health. In turn, your hormones have a colossal impact on your body weight because it is hormones such as leptin that help to control how hungry or full you feel.

Researchers have determined that the leptin hormone and the brain collaborate in a series of complex interactions to regulate a number of the body’s critical metabolic functions. In particular, leptin helps to govern the amount of fat you store in your body versus the amount of fat your body burns off.

When your brain is correctly attuned to your leptin receptors, it speeds up or slows down your metabolism in relationship to how much fat you actually have stored in your body. This system is designed to prevent the opposite extremes of starvation and overeating.

Unfortunately, some people apparently develop problems with the communication system between the leptin receptors and the brain. This leads to a condition known as leptin resistance.

When your leptin receptors and your brain fail to communicate properly, your body can mistakenly conclude that you’re starving — even if you have more than enough fat stored to prevent starvation. Your body responds by attempting to prevent starvation by slowing the amount of fat it burns.

This condition of leptin resistance can explain why so many people fail to lose weight despite genuine and sustained efforts to eat less.

Their bodies simply are not going to burn that fat because they are making an erroneous effort to stave off starvation. This is a frustrating and challenging cycle to break.

If your leptin is all out of whack, how do you fix the situation? Science doesn’t yet have an easy, one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but we do have some clues.

Sleep is one of the mechanisms governing the balancing and replenishing of leptin and other hormones in the body. Researchers have discovered that getting adequate amounts of sleep, but not oversleeping, can help to balance hormone levels, including leptin levels.

Obesogens

Scientists also believe that a group of chemical substances they’ve categorised as “obesogens” may be responsible for adversely interfering with hormones and the body’s metabolic processes. If you’re suffering from a metabolism that is out of balance, it is likely that detoxifying your body and then avoiding future contact with these obesogens could help to encourage your metabolism to begin functioning properly again.

So how do you avoid obesogens? What are they? How do you get exposed to them in the first place?

The following is a partial list of suspected obesogens:

So now that you know what some of these obesogens are, how can you avoid them?

The truth is, the best you can do is drastically reduce your exposure to them; it will most likely be impossible for you to completely avoid them. You can start by doing the following:

  • Begin eating an organic diet to minimise your exposure to damaging chemical preservatives and pesticides that can disrupt your body’s metabolic processes and contribute to weight gain.
  • Avoid using non-stick cookware. Instead, use cookware made of glass, stainless steel, cast iron or ceramics.
  • Avoid contact with plastics to the greatest extent practical. Do not eat or drink from plastic containers or microwave your food in plastic dishes. Avoid drinking from plastic water bottles.
  • Consume fresh foods rather than foods packaged in cans or plastics.
  • Avoid using chemical-based cosmetics that can contain phthalates; instead, choose organic cosmetics.
  • Avoid using chemical cleaners that can contain phthalates; choose organic cleaning products, or learn how to make your own all-natural cleaning products.

Misconception #4: liposuction is an effective weight loss strategy.

Some people get it wrong in thinking that weight loss is the main reason you’d want to have liposuction. It isn’t. Liposuction is more about contouring and reshaping the body than it is about weight loss.

While liposuction does tend to result in some weight loss, it usually isn’t much. It’s rare for people to lose more than about two kilograms of fat as a result of a liposuction procedure.

Furthermore, the people who enjoy the best success with liposuction are people who have already attained or come close to attaining their ideal body weight. There are many cases in which people reach their weight loss goals, but they still have disappointing and unwanted deposits of fatty tissue present in places on their bodies. This is the type of challenge that liposuction is best equipped to help people deal with.

So if weight loss is your primary self-care goal, the sensible approach is to make lifestyle changes that will help you achieve that goal. Eat well; sleep well; detoxify; exercise; and avoid exposure to obesogens to the best of your ability.

Hopefully, this information has helped you to better understand the complicated and highly nuanced truth about weight loss. You can safely stop believing all four of these outdated misconceptions, and forge ahead with planning lifestyle changes that will truly help you to achieve your weight loss goals.

Andrej Kovačević

I am a professional writer and freelance investigative journalist. If there's a new and exciting trend, there's a good chance Andrej is writing about it somewhere out there.

Follow Andrej's blog at https://careerswithstem.com.au/stem-careers-list/

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