Zoe Bingley-Pullin: Forget this outdated weight loss advice!
Weight loss advice can be confusing. There’s plenty of dialogue but it often seems conflicting which can leave you unsure of the right approach. In this article I clear up some of the misinformation on how to lose weight. Here are eight outdated weight loss tips you can officially forget!
Outdated advice #1 - Don’t skip breakfast.
In fact, fasting has been found to be an excellent weight loss tool. Most of us already fast every night (while we sleep) but with intermittent fasting you may extend the fast by missing breakfast or dinner, or just eating during a specific time window during the day. Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve a number of cardiovascular and metabolic health markers such as body fat, blood pressure, cholesterol and insulin sensitivity – as well as help you lose weight. So, if you choose to skip breakfast, you can do so knowing that it’s perfectly healthy (and safe)!
Outdated advice #2 - Don’t look in the mirror and don’t step on the scales.
I’m going to contradict some weight loss gurus here and tell you that you should step on the scales. That’s because studies show those people who do step on a scale are more likely to eat better that day. Weighing yourself can motivate you to continue when you see the numbers going down and on the flip side can act as a caution if the numbers are steady or have risen. It’s a great way of keeping things in check. Same with looking in the mirror. If you like what you see, you will more likely be inspired to keep going towards your goals. One key point to mention here is that muscle weighs more than fat. If you’re exercising and in particular doing weight-bearing activities, you may not see the scales dropping so much, even though you will be changing your body composition and circumference. That’s why it’s important not just to rely on a number on the scales. Check the mirror and how your clothes fit you – sometimes these provide better clues to your progress.
Outdated advice #3 - Swap meals for juice.
Please don’t follow this weight loss advice! Fruit juices in particular are loaded with sugar and are absent of most fibre and fat that can help slow down the release of that sugar into the bloodstream. Vegetable juices are better, but both types can leave you feeling hungry and cause you to overeat later. The other key thing about juice diets is that they don’t teach you anything about healthy eating and they tend to fail in the medium term - most people lose weight fast and then yo yo back. The body detoxes itself everyday anyway; it doesn’t need to be free of solid food to do that. If you’re wanting to eat clean and give your digestive system a break, opt for a healthy food cleanse instead.
Outdated advice #4 - Weights will make you bulky.
Nope, not true sorry. Cardio workouts are wonderful for fitness, for burning calories and for delivering many of the benefits of sweating. However, I strongly recommend weights training for my clients as it is an effective way to help you to tone up, burn fat and improve your body shape. Quite the opposite to adding bulk, doing weights will help you shed the fat around your muscles, so you appear more contoured, less flabby and slimmer! To get a body-builder’s physique you’d have to devote a serious number of hours per week to building muscle and you’d also have to have a high calorie diet to match. And that goes for men as well as women!
Outdated advice #5 - Eat the same thing every day.
Do you remember the cabbage soup diet? Yuk. Eating the same food every day is not good for your health. Modern weight loss tips demonstrate that variety is a critical factor for the diversity and health of our gut microbes. Variety also helps us obtain as many nutrients as possible from our diet, to keep us healthy and free of illness. Eating a rainbow of different coloured natural foods is much better advice these days.
Outdated advice #6 - Eat low fat, high carb.
Uh uh, if you want to know how to lose weight, please ignore that old chestnut. Low fat diets have been shown to have poor success rates for weight loss. Fat is satiating and helps reduce hunger and overeating. It is also very important for carrying fat soluble vitamins. The best advice now is to eat a moderate amount of healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds. Secondly, keep processed carbs to a minimum, eat wholegrains, and include good quality protein to keep you satisfied.
Outdated advice #7 - Go slow and steady.
Actually, fast weight loss is now considered fine and healthy. Diets like the Fast 800 owe their success to the fact that they get results quickly. Dr Mosley designed the Fast 800 around scientific research which indicated that 800 calories per day is the sweet spot before your body kicks into starvation mode and holds onto weight. Ultimately you need to do what feels right and sustainable for you. If just 800 calories per day is taking it too far, then opting for something like a 1200 calorie plan may feel more comfortable and achievable for you.
Outdated advice #8 - Eat every two hours.
Unless you have a medical condition that requires it, it’s just not necessary to eat that often. The concept that it will speed up your metabolism has been disproved and the risk is that you’ll just eat too many calories overall. Multiple small meals a day seems to be a green light for snacking and may not offer the balance that proper meals can. There are many benefits to getting a little hungry between meals too!