Ok, so be warned I may, in my passion, end up ranting slightly during this post….
These are things I feel like I see people say, post on social media or write about in magazines over and over again and it does my nut in. Mainly because they are theories presented as facts with little evidence or are misleading or incomplete in the information they share. And ultimately they can often do people more harm in the long run.
So here we go. You ready?
1. ‘Weight loss is all about creating a calorie deficit’
Yes I have begun with a biggie.
But basically, this is the idea to lose weight all you need to do is reduce your calories by roughly 3-500 a day. It’s the whole calories deficit approach. You can do this by eating less only, or by exercising the equivalent of 500 calories or a blend of both.
Now to a certain degree this is ok advice, I mean it’s what the NHS tells you to do (!!??), but I find it incredibly annoying as it makes it seem like it’s super simple, that your body’s a machine, and in my opinion encourages people to develop disordered approaches to eating. Restriction is not the answer.
I had a client once tell me they felt they were doing ‘well’ as they had been hitting 1200 calories a day – needless to say I nearly screamed down the phone (I NEVER get clients to track calories or even talk about their calories unless it’s to tell me they are consuming MORE).
Here’s the low down.
Even if you were to sit on your arse all day long your body needs a minimum number of calories to survive, breath, function. Without you lifting a finger, your body needs fuel. So aiming for lowest calories intake is dangerous, because without enough food we will die.
Next, suddenly reducing calories from say 2000 to 1400 will be enough to send your body into crisis starvation mode. Most bodies are sugar burners, only adapted to burn glucose as fuel (the body can also burn fat in form of ketones as fuel too but most people aren’t doing this) and when your restrict the amount of glucose by not eating enough then the body will stress the heck out due to low amount of glucose. And stress, whether emotional, biological or mental, is a disaster for the body.
Forcing your body into starvation mode will also shift your hormones and create a new ‘normal’. Meaning that when you give up the craziness of you 1400 goal you have messed up your hormones and gain fat way
more easily because your body has adjusted to this new ‘starvation mode
‘. It’s the epitome of yo-yo dieting which this study
shows makes you put on more weight in the long run.
Our bodies are not set machines, they adapt, they are fluid and they adjust. Calories in and calories out is based on our bodies functioning like automatic mindless machines, and we are far from that are we not?!
Solution – avoid calorie restriction like the plague. Instead focus on eating unprocessed whole, real foods, with an emphasis on proteins fat and vegetable over carbohydrates and sweet tasting foods.
2. Being healthy means being vegan/plant based…
I mean I think this involves a post on its own to thoroughly discuss evidence supporting this but in general the ‘plant based diet‘, where someone will avoid meat and fish but may eat eggs from what I can tell. Or its a vegan diet, which is the strict removal of all animal based products.
Overall I am not a fan.
Sure as a short term detox for a few weeks or even month or two is fine but really long terms it ain’t good.
(Phew – it’s like I killed a holy health cow.)
Why don’t I love it? Oh my, there are many reasons but here is a roundup (I wrote a whole essay about it in my MSc bwon’t wont bore you with that!). A vegan whole food diet, whilst high in the number of veggies they contain (big yay) are often very carbohydrate heavy due to nature of what is left to eat. Lots of grains, starches and ultimately sugar. Getting enough fat and protein is a struggle and this often mean blood sugars are unstable which is not good.
Next B12 is only available from animal products, sure people say you can get it from spirulina but this study
refutes that. There are a few other vitamins this way of eating doesn’t support B12 is the one is a big one. B12 is huge for essential bodily function, and it is not something you want to be low in…. like ever.
Low B12 not only impacts heart heath, cell metabolism, DNA repair and iron levels, but has been shown to impact the cognitive function of adolescents in this study.
And while I LOVE LOVE LOVE that pant based folks tend to promote whole foods, lots of veggies, ethical approach to eating I also wish they would eat an organic homemade beef burger regularly too.
Solution – if your avoidance of meat is for ethical reason then you need to supplement with a good range of methylated b vitamins for sure. Also zinc, vit A, iron would be worth supplementing too.
Or eat the best happiest highest quality meat and eggs you can afford at least once a week.
3. ‘Fat people are just so greedy – just stop eating….‘
Oh my this general attitude does my nut in. This assumption that people who are overweight or obese are just greedy pigs who are inherently unhealthy.
Seriously what a load of bull. And to be honest this tends to be thought by individuals whose genetics and metabolism hasn’t inclined them to gain weight…ever.
Carrying excess fat does not always mean you are unhealthy, it does not mean they are binging every night and eating Krispie Kremes every day. Of course, there are people who do this and are obese and very unhealthy. I live in Glasgow in Scotland, not currently the healthiest of people groups, and I see people’s ‘breakfasts’ on the trains which consist of coke and crisps, but guys not everyone is doing this and this myth that ‘man just wire their mouth shut’.
We don’t need this judgment.
There are so many metabolic syndromes, genetic predisposition, mental traumas, hormones issues, medication side effects and misinformation that leads people to the size they are. When I first watched this documentary
I cried because it clearly shows teenagers wanting to lose weight but can’t, because they are given crappy advice and heavily judged by others.
Solution – quit judging people. Seriously, when you judge others you trap yourself and you have NO IDEA of another persons journey, none.
4. ‘Cholesterol is SO bad and I should aim to have the lowest possible…’
We have been conned big style when it comes to cholesterol and it is causing big issues….
First in shorted dietary cholesterol is not a big deal – your body produces 75% of total cholesterol with dietary cholesterol only contributing 25%. Did you get that? If you have dangerously high cholesterol it’s mainly because your body is making too much of it.
Next cholesterol is essential for hormones production – no cholesterol – no hormones – no hormones – you’re dead.
Third, our cells are made of and use cholesterol. Without cells we die. In short without cholesterol, we die.
Tad dramatic, but seriously it is not about having cholesterolterol but about having a good ratio with LDL and HDL and the thing you really want to take note of for heart disease is your triglycerides levels. Plus our whole approach is wrong, if you have dangerously high cholesterol, which is not good for you, then you need to ask why is your body making so much of it? Genetics? Too much sugar? Stress? Thats the questions we need to be asking, not how can I have zero cholesterol because we need healthy amounts in the right balance.
And jeeezzzzzoooo don’t get me started on statins…….#makingdrugcompaniesmillions
– be unafraid to eat foods like butter, organic whole milk, organic meats and foods that are high in fat. And if you want to know more read this book
by as Scottish GP called The Cholesterol Con – great geeky read.
Phew apart of feeling a tad fired up I hope this helps.
Please eat butter over margarine.
Please allow people to be the size and weight that they are and without judgement.
Please don’t obsess about cholesterol (I personally will NEVER take statins unless my life depends on it!)
Please don’t follow a vegan diet long term.
Please eat some organic beef.
Please eat egg yolks.
And of course keep eating TONS of veggies.