One of the reasons many dieters fail to reach their weight loss goals is the prevalence of misinformation in books, infomercials and on the Internet. There is no shortage of “old wives tales” that have no basis in reality and yet still get passed around as if they are legitimate tips. These myths are also perpetuated in gyms and health clubs, sometimes by people who are quite lean and fit. As a result, many dieters are basing their weight loss regimens on inaccurate information. Here are a few of the most prevalent myths still being purported as true.
Six Small Meals Per Day
The idea behind this still prevailing myth is that eating smaller, more frequent meals keeps your metabolism running high. However, research has shown that daily meal timing and frequency have no effect on metabolic rate. Food is digested very slowly, so food from your first meal is still being digested when you are eating your fourth. Some argue that eating this way has psychological benefit, as you never have to go very long without eating; but others disagree, claiming that never getting to enjoy a large meal is an unnecessary sacrifice. Another strike against this approach is the inconvenience of having to eat every three hours, as meals must be prepared in advance and eaten on the go.
This is the idea that low intensity exercise at a specific percentage of maximum heart rate uses more fat as fuel as compared to higher intensity exercise, and as such results in greater fat loss. This is a mistake in thinking, as the substrate used while exercising is secondary in importance to the total amount of energy used, which makes high intensity exercise a more efficient choice, as more energy is used per unit of time. This is not to say that low intensity exercise is without benefit; only that it is not in any way superior to higher intensity training simply because it uses a higher percentage of fat for energy.
Lifting Weights Makes You “Bulky”
Women often forgo resistance exercise and limit their training to aerobic modalities for fear of bulking up and getting overly muscular. This is a mistake, as building muscle is not something so easy as to be done by mistake. Plus, women have much lower androgen levels than men, making it considerably more difficult for them to build muscle mass. Resistance exercise facilitates strength, aesthetically pleasing proportions and postural balance and it is a potent fat burner. Dedicating half of your training to resistance work and the other half to aerobic exercise is a sound approach for fat loss.
Complex Carbohydrates are Great for Weight Loss
The advice we often hear is to cut out sugars and starches in favor of complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat, legumes and other grains. These are not bad foods per se, but most people find that total carbohydrates must be kept beneath an approximate threshold for optimal fat loss to occur. This means limiting even healthier carbohydrates such as those just mentioned.