Weight Loss: The Myths and Facts
Bodyweight has become a rather topical and controversial topic over the past five years. This is partly due to social media and especially the rise of platforms such as Instagram that allow its users to share photos about their lives. Weight and body shape have been at the center of this.
That being said, bodyweight is very much a medical issue as it is linked to many medical conditions as both a symptom and a cause. Oftentimes when we go in for full medical check-ups this issue is brought up and we may be told that we need to lose a few kilograms. Shockingly this isn’t true for everyone and some people are actually told to gain weight(but we won’t get into that in this article)
Not everybody needs to lose weight but if you want or need to, here are some pointers to help you do so and some myths to avoid following.
Myth: It’s all about the exercise
Fact: Losing weight is actually more about your lifestyle than solely your workout routine. Imagine eating a five-piece chicken meal with large chips and a soda for every meal and expecting to lose weight simply because you go to the gym three times a week. Besides the other health risks of this diet, you may actually find that you gain more weight. Most of the weight we lose comes from the food we eat, about 70% actually. Eating less also isn’t always the answer. If you are eating rather large portions during each meal then a reduction in meal size is a benefit. However, for most of us this isn’t necessary, and doing so might actually have adverse effects and affect your workouts.
You might also be thinking “well I’ll just exercise harder and more frequently”. This can actually be detrimental when you start working out. Besides the fact that you may not be giving your muscles enough recovery time, overworking them can make you sick the next day or lead to muscle tears which is a whole other kettle of fish.
Myth: *insert exercise* only reduces stomach fat
Fact: When we exercise, we burn fat from all over our body, not just in the area we are ‘targeting’. This misconception comes from the fact that when we work on a specific area of our body, for example, our legs, we see more definition and change in that area. This however is merely muscle definition and in no way is a representation of the fat content.
Myth: I need to vary my exercises
Fact: For the best impact it’s best to keep it varied but simple. Doing cardio, lifting weights, mixing in some compound workouts such as deadlifts, squats pull-ups, etc achieves the best results. Ditch the new health craze workouts and stick to the tried and tested methods.
Myth: Sleep affects weight loss
Fact: Sleeping affects how much weight you lose as well. For example, when we are fatigued we are less likely to want to do physical activities. You may end up opting to use a car service instead of the usual fifteen-minute walk to and from the office(yes those thirty minutes are beneficial). Sleep also helps in regulating our hormones, including the hormones leptin (the hunger hormone) and ghrelin, the “feeling full” hormone. Without adequate sleep, these hormones might not function properly, leading to you feeling hungry or not feeling full when you eat.
Myth: Do your stretches first
Fact: Getting your blood pumping before a workout is a common practice so we stretch before we get into it. In reality, it is really not necessary and can sometimes even be problematic especially when we don’t stretch properly. Rather than stretching before a workout do it after as a form of post-workout cool down just before hitting the showers.
Myth: I need to lift weights
Fact: Lifting weights does a whole lot more than strengthening and defining the muscles in the forearm. It also boasts a whole lot of other benefits such as increased metabolic rate which burns more fat, improving your hormonal profile, sleep, and balance. So while you should still get your cardio work-out e.g. running don’t forget to add weights to your routine.
Remember not to mix your workout. Don’t lift weights during the same session as you are doing cardio to allow for recovery. So if you focus on weights on a Wednesday, take a jog on the treadmill on Friday.