Eat fat to lose fat
Eating good fats is crucial to a healthy well balanced diet. We need to eat fat for many biological functions including hormone production and regulation, brain function, a healthy nervous system, energy production, cell immunity, healthy lung function, vitamin absorption, bone health and cardiovascular health to name just a few. Eating the right kind of fats will nourish the body and be used by every cell to maintain health and well-being and having the right amount of fat in our diet WILL help us to maintain a healthy weight. I always recommend eating whole foods which are minimally processed and to include whole fat products over the low fat, high sugar varieties. Fat keeps us satisfied which help to prevent over eating and choosing low fat options higher in sugar can promote insulin production, blood sugar spikes and weight gain. Where the message falls down is that many people simply think by adding fat to their existing diet they will lose weight. Fat contains the highest amount of calories out of all the food groups thereby simply adding lashings of extra virgin olive oil to your food, dollops of butter to your veggies or spoonfuls of coconut oil or nut butter to your smoothies will not promote weight loss. It simply comes down to changing your diet, eating wholefoods, goods fats and lowering the amount of refined highly processed foods which tend to be higher in calories. Portion size is everything when it comes to losing weight. Include good fats but do watch your portion size as if you eat too many calories from fat without changing the rest of your diet you will not lose weight and in fact could gain!
Carbs e.g. bread and pasta make you fat
Bread, pasta, potatoes and carbs have recently been demonised for promoting weight gain due to their effect on blood sugar and insulin. The more sugar we eat the more glycogen we store for back up fuel and when all our energy reserves are full we start to store fat. Whilst carbs certainly give us an energy boost, bread and pasta will only make us put on weight if we eat too much. Contrary to popular belief we can eat bread and potatoes and lose weight. Once again it all comes down to portion control. The only reason you will gain weight (apart from certain medical conditions and medications) is if you are eating more food than your body really needs.
Exercise hard to lose weight
Daily exercise is important for our general health and well-being. It helps to regulate blood sugar and hormones, releases feel good hormones, and is important for cardiovascular and general cell health and disease prevention. The more we exercise the more fuel we need which is why athletes and runners need more fuel. Where people go wrong is by thinking they can eat a poor diet high in sugar and processed foods and simply run off the calories. Whilst exercise certainly does burn calories it takes a lot of effort to burn off the calories from a doughnut (e.g. a 30 minute run or bike ride) so if you really want to lose weight changing your diet to healthier, nutrient dense options and increasing moderate exercise is the way to go. Some people find that too much intense exercise can actually hinder weight loss. This is because strenuous exercise such as running for more than an hour can increase stress on the body and elevate cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that is produced during stress. When our cortisol levels are chronically raised this can promote weight gain around our mid section (where we have more cortisol receptors). If you are struggling to lose the extra weight around your mid-section and have been going extra hard at the gym you may find the lightening up your exercise routine and including some cortisol lowering exercises such as walks, meditation and yoga may actually help you shift that mid-section bulge.
Calories don’t matter
Whilst I am a big promoter of not counting calories or getting fixated on numbers (this does not necessarily promote healthy eating or a healthy relationship with food) calories DO matter. Many of the wholefood snacks and treats such as raw vegan cakes, bullet proof coffee and nut butters are high in calories. If you are snacking on these several times a day and eating energy dense meals you could go over your recommended calorie intake which will hinder weight loss. Weight loss is simple -if you eat less energy (calories) than your body needs you will lose weight. If you are eating too much, even healthy food like nuts you won’t lose weight. The most common reason I see in my clients for a lack of weight loss is that they are simply eating more food than their body needs.
Eat small regular meals to boost metabolism and don’t eat past 7pm
A common diet myth is that we need to eat every couple of hours to keep our metabolism revved up in order to burn more calories or we must not eat carbs after 7pm. If we go without food for long periods of time our metabolism can drop as part of our survival mechanism. This means we need to be literally starving for our body to do this. Eating every couple of hours or not eating at certain times of the day will have no impact on weight loss, once again it simply comes down to calories in and calories out. In fact regular snacking can promote weight gain if we are consuming more than our body actually needs.
The message here is simple. There is no magic cure for weight loss such as fad diets, cutting out particular foods, or choosing a specific time to eat food. We put on weight when we are eating too much and we lose weight when we stop over eating. Choose minimally processed foods, enjoy all foods in moderation and don’t over complicate things. Your body never lies, it will tell you when you are over eating by gaining weight. It will also tell you when you are doing the right thing to lose weight by feeling fit and fabulous.