You've been scammed. Not only of your health and I'm sure a portion of your sanity, but most likely your hard earned money, too.
What am I talking about? Weight loss. It's the most overused and under-nourishing thing about the so-called health industry. I can't understand why, with everything that we know about nutrition and the physiology of the human body, we still commit to communicating weight loss over fat loss? Not only does it needs to stop, we need to be smarter about our goals. Here, I outline the five biggest misconceptions and what you really should be doing.
Lie number 1: that number on your scales
You've been brainwashed into believing that weight loss is the best measure of health gain. When in actual fact, it's just the easiest thing to measure. Bathroom scales are good and bad. They're bad at measuring actual body composition (i.e. how much muscle and fat you have) but good at measuring how miserable you can start you day.
Lie number 2: weight loss is the same as fat loss
Weight loss and fat loss are very different, and it's this difference that is the reason why weight loss is the preferred choice to be marketed to you. Why? Because it's so damn easy to achieve. Weight loss = you can lose any combination of muscle, bone, water, urine, excrements or body fat.
As you can see, with so many different variables - losing weight is simple:
a) STOP drinking fluids for a day - 2-3 kilograms down - yay for you!
b) Drink ONLY fluids for a day - 2-3 kilograms down - woohoo look at you go!
This is where most people who do a juice diet, go low-carb or detox get it wrong, they assume that those 2-3 kilograms must be fat, right? Wrong. It's most likely just water.
Fat loss on the other hand, is much harder to measure and manage. For example, if you lost 3 kilos of body fat but added 3 kilos of muscle you'd be the same scale weight. So if you were solely measuring your progress with scales, you'd most likely feel like a failure when in actual fact you're shape would've changed dramatically.
Lie number 3: all weight loss is good
There's a vicious cycle related to weight loss - and it's not always healthy. Here's what you need to know:
1. If you consume less than you expend, you'll lose weight (no matter what diet you're doing)
2. If you cut calories too far then your body will start to break down muscle and fat to use as fuel. This is where poor health starts.
3. If you lose equal amounts of muscle and fat you're ideally the same body fat percentage, meaning that you haven't actually changed your shape. So if you were a big pear, you're now just a medium pear.
4. Muscle is metabolic, which means it burns calories, and now you've got less of it, you're metabolism is now much slower.
5. When you eventually break your diet, you'll most likely eat everything in sight - and - because you've got yourself a slower metabolism now, you'll pack on those pounds faster than ever before.
6. Then you diet again. The cycle repeats and your health goes down whilst your weight continues to go up.
Lie number 4: it's impossible to break the spiral
This one's totally wrong - here are the simple facts:
1. Muscle is life - it's a metabolic tissue and will therefore increase your metabolism. Your goal with fat loss is to try and maintain or gain muscle whilst simultaneously losing body fat.
2. Get more data - invest in a Dexa scan or find a skilled practitioner who can measure your body fat percentage using calipers. Combine this with photos, and measurements of your chest, waist, hips, thighs and arms. This will help you track and measure your results much more accurately. Remember, that which can be measured, can be managed.
3. Don't cut calories too far - find out your BMR (basal metabolic rate) and ensure that you're not overdoing it when you cut calories. It's a fine line between losing body fat because you're maintaining muscle and breaking down muscle.
4. Resistance training - strength builds muscle and prevents muscle loss. The preservation of muscle is the backbone of a fat loss program.
5. Stop weighing yourself daily - your bodyweight can fluctuate a few kilos on a daily basis since it's heavily influenced by your stomach/bowel/bladder content; dehydration or fluid retention; muscle loss or gain; fat loss or gain.