As we go through life on our Journey from newborn to our "mature years", we travel a "Nutritional" road, with many changes in nutrition and metabolism along the way. These changes often require directional maneuvers, turns here and there....and many alternate routes.
Often, we wind up in the "Fatlands". Meandering from one false destination to another.......still stuck, or coming full circle....back to the "Fatlands"! What is needed is a map, a plan so to speak. This map shows the main highways, surface streets, even down to the most obscure paths to our goal....."Leanville". While there are many directions one could take on this journey.....we need a map that points out the major hazards and roadblocks along the way. Such a map keeps us going in a positive direction "all of the time"....without taking unnecessary sidetrips, or going "full circle" along the way. With that in mind, the 10 most common "myths" in regards to losing fat.
#1 Lifestyle or Diet: The Jouney Begins
So you start on your journey.....if the Freeway ends in say 12 weeks..where do you end up. Well, you've made 12 weeks progress, but the problem is, you're still the same person, with the same "old" habits that caused the problem in the first place. Most look at Body Re-composition as something one does for a certain amount of time. It involved discipline, making different food choices and being consistent. It was something you did for a 'specified period of time', but now that's over, and it's more than likely you will return to ALL the things that caused the problem in the first place. We all see this everyday.....people regaining what they lost and, and then some. The way to prevent this pitfall from the very first day...it to look at it as a "Lifestyle change." It's NOT that you don't eat something or some way as when you diet...it's that you CHOOSE NOT to anymore. You don't give up something that was detrimental in your life for the duration of your diet, you give it up once and for all. The same applies to 'Healthy Eating'....you don't do it for the course of your diet..you do it for LIFE! Make this journey, this transformation a "Lifestyle", and never be fat again!
#2 Calories reduction means Fatloss: Wrong Way!
This is the biggest fallacy ever thrust upon society. The notion adopted by Health Care Practitioners, Registered Dieticians, Clinical Nutritionists and Fitness Gurus everywhere, that if calories out exceed calories in, you will lose weight, and body fat!
We can't tell you how many people climb on treadmills, drink their "No Calorie" lunch after skipping their breakfast, live on 500-to 800 calories per day, and GO NOWHERE! Actually they are going somewhere, they're heading for compromised metabolisms and massive fat gain should they ever resume eating again! Sure, some lose bodyweight....usually early on, some continue to lose, but that is less common, most plateau. What we need to know is how much of it was bodyfat. Weight loss, does NOT equal FAT LOSS!
Ask yourself.........If I were such and such percent Bodyfat at my current weight, would it even matter how much I weighed?
#3 Cardio "Wasted miles" : Detour, Waste of Time?
You end up often going in a circle...having sacrificed to much LBM in an effort to get out of the Fatlands
First, please understand that "Cardio" is but one tool or weapon that we have in the "Fat Loss Arsenal" If used too early or too often, the body adapts, and cardio becomes less effective for fat loss, usually generating Bodyweight and Lean Body Mass Loss. This slows the metabolism.....as each pound of sacrificed LBM would have burned 30 to 50 calories per day, possibly Fat calories!
When people want to lose fat, they automatically think of adding cardio to their programs. Problem is, most people do the wrong kind of cardio and do far too much of it.
Traditional cardio, that which is done at 60-80% of MHR at a steady pace for long bouts (40-60 minutes), is the least effective way of reaching your "lean body" goals. Often with TC, the first thing a person depletes is their liver and skeletal glycogen. This not only compromises energy levels for the more valuable resistance training (valuable at building LBM and promoting metabolism)...but produce a frequent or constant "state of tiredness" in the participant. Next...... cardio often catabolizes LBM, as this is easier for the body to do than oxidize bodyfat.......and finally...near the end of the cardio session...some FFA (Free Fatty Acids) are liberated and burned. But at what a cost?
So, if you're gonna do cardio what is the best way? Well, our number one goal when trying to lose fat is to increase our metabolism, this is the key to burning fat! Aside from proper nutrition, we can increase our metabolism by adding or maintaining our lean body mass, and improving our cardiovascular system. A fit body will use fat as fuel more than an unfit body. A body w/ more muscle will burn more calories at rest than a body w/ less muscle. So the cardio we choose must a) be intense enough to elevate heart-rate and boost metabolism and b) preserve muscle mass. (via Shorter duration)
So to get the best of both worlds here, we suggest using High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This is done w/ short intervals of 30-60 sec at 90-95% of MHR, utilizing rest intervals at 60-65% MHR. Rest intervals can be the same period as a work interval, or a little longer if your fitness level is not up to par yet. Allowing your body to rest in between intense intervals ensures energy replenishment, effectively preserving LBM. More total calories are burned due to the increased activity, you're body is being pushed so adaptation will occur, and the rest intervals @ 60% MHR will allow for calories from fat to be burned. The best of both worlds. Studies have shown that HIIT increases your metabolism for hours after your workout has ended, unlike TC.
And a final word about cardio....more is not better! Do you ever wonder why the people who do 6 days of cardio for 45 minutes......almost always have a high bodyfat? It's because they're losing their LBM, and slowing their metabolisms. So you can take the long winding road to weight loss...or you can take the straight route by lifting weights intensely on a regular basis, maintain proper nutrition, and incorporate HIIT 1-3 times per week!
#4 Fat Phobia means being not able to fire on all cylinders, and bad fuel economy
As long as everything is low fat it's all good right? North America is fat phobic. Do you realize how many products are sold w/ a low fat or fat free version? Guess what? Eating fat doesn't make you fat. Shocker eh? Do you know what they do to products that have a reduced fat count? Often they add sugar to the product in order to compensate for the lack of fat...since fat adds flavour. Sugar is a deceptive word, it can mean anything from simple sugars like fructose, sucrose or lactose (from milk)..to slightly more complex sugars form grains, flours, legumes, and starches. The word "Carbohydrate" means Sugar!
Thus sugars, from certain less fibrous carbohydrates, when consumed, cause your body to release more than the usual amount of the hormone insulin. Your body uses insulin to control blood sugar levels. Insulin tries to ensure that your body uses more carb and less fat as fuel. Insulin also converts excess carbs to fat for storage. So eating a lot of refined sugars, as in low fat products, allows less stored fat to be burned.
Why is fat not bad for you? Healthy fats such as omega 3's (flax/fish oil), egg yolks, full fat mayo and cream (basically most that are not trans or cis fats) will help to control insulin secretion and maintain a steady insulin level. Reducing and eliminating insulin surges will allow you to burn or oxidize more fat. Sugar on the other hand will produce large insulin secretions, stopping fat burning in it's tracks. So do yourself a favour and add a few yolks to your eggs in the morning, or a little oil based dressing or butter to your veggies. Not only will you be on your way to a leaner you, but your health and risk of disease will improve by cutting out refined sugar and choosing foods that are of a more natural state.
#5 Skipped or missed meals and low Meal Frequency: Unforeseen Delay
As a general rule, unless you are eating often, and at intervals, you need to increase your meal frequency. Eating three times a day is not good enough....Aim for 5-6 smaller meals, spaced 2.5-3 hrs apart, with a good balance of protein, fat, & slow-burning carbs in each meal. By eating more frequently, you are telling your body it doesn't need to store the food you give it...it's going to readily have food coming in, on a regular basis, so it can start shedding fat. Every time you eat, your body has to work to digest that food, your body temperature increases, and your body has to work to regulate itself. This is/causes an increase in metabolism....which means your body is burning extra calories and hopefully storing fewer calories.
Want to 'Burn more fat", raise your metabolism through meal frequency, not necessarily more food, and in some cases this has to be done gradually, but "More Often" is the key!
#6 Bad Fruits : Slippery when Wet
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a quick healthy snack?
Let's define "healthy". Yes...fruit comes w/ a lot of vitamins, so that makes it healthy. Some fruits have fibre, also healthy. Eating a piece of fruit instead of a cookie is a healthy decision. But when we know how the body responds to fruit, it becomes bittersweet. First of all, some fruits have more sugar and less fibre than others. Remember, reducing sugar intake is the key to health and fat loss.
Fructose, the type of sugar in fruit, is preferentially metabolized by the liver. What isn't used for energy right away gets stored as glycogen. The liver only "has room for" about 60-100 g of carbs at any given time. So if someone is eating 4-5 pieces of fruit per day, and those fruits are high sugar fruits...the rest gets stored as fat!
The best fruit to include in your diet are apples, peaches, any type of berry, & grapefruit. It's also important to eat your fruit as part of a meal...If you've read rule #5 about meal frequency, you know that you should be consuming 6 smaller, balanced meals per day...this leaves no room for snacking. Include your fruit in a meal w/ a good protein and fat source for the best results!
#7 MRP's: Long Road to Fatloss, Shortcut to Mass Loss
Even once you get past the concept of the Sugar Laidened products like Ensure, Slimfast or Carnation Instant Breakfast, products that restrict calories as compared to an "ordinary meal", you have to ask: What is all that sugar doing in my body?
Short Answer: Promoting Fat Storage!
While the calorie restriction/reduction can result in bodyweight reduction, it's unlikely to be instrumental with "fat Loss" in the typical overfat individual. The sugars in these products are causing a rapid rise in your insulin levels, a major signal to stop all fat burning cold (Lipolysis) and cause fat storage (Lipogensis). Are the plethora of Body building products much better?
Yes and no.......most have fructose or maltodextrin as the carbohydrate source....so same scenario...a set up for Fat Storage. The fact that almost every MRP ignores fat and fiber, nutrients that stabilize insulin.....instead MRP's often increase the bodies propensity to spike insulin!
What to do......make your own! Call it and plan it as a "meal" however, not a "Replacement" for one thing. A shake made with your choice of whey, casein, or egg (or combination of) protein powder, a good fat source, fiber and carbohydrates from say any kind of berry...and you have the your own RMP....Real Meal Perfection!
#8 Post Workout Insulin Spike: Major Roadblock
Many people believe in the need for a PWO spike from high GI carbs in order for muscle building to occur. Yes...that's one way to gain some good muscle, but at the expense of stopping fat oxidation for several hours...ensuring it takes just that must longer for you to reach your goals of a lean body. While those w/ a racing metabolism may get away w/ a regular spike from high GI carbs, most could do w/o it. Why erase a metabolism boosting workout by stopping fat oxidation immediately afterwards w/ an insulin spike? Let your metabolism continue burning that fat for hours after your workout ends by treating the PWO meal as any other...w/ slow burning carbs, healthy EFA's and quality protein....were your insulin is still kept in check.
#9 You don't need to starve yourself in order to lose fat. Out of Gas!
In fact...quite the opposite. Those who eat less, 1 -2 meals per day, if that, are compromising their metabolisms. Skipping Breakfast is a message to the body that you are going to "starve it", and to "store fat" for the coming famine. Even eating three times a day is not good enough....Aim for 5-6 smaller meals, spaced 2.5-3 hrs apart, w/ a good balance of protein, fat, & slow-burning carbs in each meal. By eating more frequently, you are telling your body it doesn't need to store the food you give it...it's going to readily have food coming in, on a regular basis, so it can start shedding fat. Every time you eat, your body has to work to digest that food, your body temperature increases, and your body has to work to regulate itself.....this is an increase in metabolism....which means your body is burning extra calories.
Also avoid low calorie foods and meals devoid of calories.......many people go out of their way for diet products....0 to low calories foods...and some have entire meals of less than 200 calories. When you do that...even at a daily total of 400, 600 even 800 calories, you have stiffled your metabolism, supressed your immune sytstem, can't fully recover from athletics and are basically hurting your health. The biggest danger of low calorie starvation diets is when you resume old eating patterns. Your metabolism and thyroid function are now set so low, you have starved for so long....the body's only recourse is to store MASSIVE amounts of FAT. Roundtrip, back to where you started....only fatter!
#10 Thermogenics: Excessive Speed, DANGER!
Thermogenics are a catch-all phrase for products that elevate body temperature. An elevation of body temperature leads to a higher metabolic rate, and therefore, more calories are burned. We are using it here to mean the common, everyday E/C/A (ephedrine/caffeine/aspirin) stacks. While the mechanisms of such products are beyond the scope of this article, they are commonly used for energy prior to a workout or during the day, increasing one's metabolism to accelerate fat loss, and, unfortunately, for the simple fact that many individuals have developed a psychological and physiological dependence and cannot function adequately without them.
Having greater energy for a workout is perhaps the only viable use of the E/C/A stack. This can actually be accomplished by ephedrine (ephedra alkaloids), caffeine, or even green tea in place of the whole stack. If the use is infrequent and a person does not develop a tolerance, E/C/A stacks are beneficial in the stress/adaptation process and overcoming plateaus in weight-lifting.
The downside, however, is continued use or abuse. Common sense dictates that the body, being an intelligent organism, if chemically revved up to 110% for 4 - 6 hours, will, in turn, compensate at 90% for an equal amount of time. The net effect to many people's surprise, is zero--especially for people seeking fat loss. However, body weight loss can occur in many due to the appetite suppression characteristics of these products.
The unseen danger that we see on a daily basis in our business is the downward spiral that many individuals incur on these products. Not only do they feel lifeless and non-energetic without them, but hair loss, anxiety, depression and gauntness develop in many individuals. One needs to recognize that ephedra, ephedra alkaloids, and ephedrine are precursors to amphetamines and methamphetamines. All of these products, when overused or abused, severely tax the central nervous system and adrenal function. It is now recognized that a form of chronic fatigue, called "Adrenal Burnout Syndrome" can partially be attributed to the overuse of stimulants.
So Fast or Slow, straight as the crow flys, or the "Neverending Journey?" As you can see....there are many, many ways to sabotage the best "diet" (we prefer, Nutritional Program) intentions. Hopefully in this brief article, you have found some things to "hold true", tidbits to shorten your travel on the road to "Leaness". We have seen that the quick easy path often results in Bodyweight loss, and then horrible setback as old patterns set in.
Therefore consider these points, as not only guides, marking the best routes to leaness, but as lifestyle standards....not only to get you lean, but keep you Lean!