By Christina Major  |  19 January 2019   

You’ve tried, you’ve failed... you’ve gained it all back. Look, it’s not really your fault. There’s so many myths and legends that surround diets that it’s actually funny, once you lose the weight. Let’s look at some of the trends that people think work, but only cause you to be sick, fat, and tired.

1. Calories Counting

A calorie is a measure of heat used to increase the temperature of one cubic centimeter of water one degree Celsius. You may ask, what does this have to do with food and weight? The answer is absolutely nothing.

When weight loss became vogue topic, dietitians struggled to find a way to explain an easy way for people to measure the quality of their food.

They were able to break down fat, carbohydrates, and protein into how many calories were produced when a certain amount was burned. 

But, it did not take into consideration vitamins, minerals, and what the body does with fat, protein, and carbohydrates.

Calories were very easy to understand in terms of weight loss and the quantity of food. Since then, it has sparked the low-fat diet craze, which many of you have probably tried and found doesn’t work.

The truth is, even if a calorie value could be assigned to every portion of food, it would create a system that is exceptionally complex, unwieldy, and would need to vary based on a person's individual nutritional needs.

There are countless scores of people who count calories, but never lose weight.

Why doesn’t counting calories work? On a restricted calorie diet, the body is starved of fats and food. It retreats into starvation mode, where everything you eat is held onto. The body won’t release the extra sugars and triglycerides stored in fat as a self-protective measure. 

But, once it’s had enough food regularly, the body feels safe enough to release them and the weight comes off fast. That’s why restricted diets don’t work.

2. Weight Loss Equals Fat Loss

Your weight is dictated by so many different components including bone, muscle, fat, organs, water, and air. When a person begins losing weight, the body sheds the most easily obtained nutrient first, water. This is the basis of fast weight loss before a competition.

As weight loss progresses, the adipose tissue releases the triglycerides and a change in your physical size is seen. As your body changes weight, everything else in your body has to shift. Your skin will shrink and become smaller to fit the new body size. Your bones will reshape, sometimes losing density because you don’t need to support as much with it.

For the most part, we decreased the size of the adipose tissue and most of what we lose is this tissue. But, water, bone, and the skin will also reduce.

You see this first hand in wrestling and MMA weight ins. Competitors dehydrate themselves to meet weight. It’s not fat or muscle they lose, but water.

3. Cheat Days Are OK

In martial arts, discipline is everything. This applies to your weight loss and the supposed cheat days. It was created to reward yourself for being good from six to ten days prior. It’s supposed to give motivation and encourage compliance.

But, what it does is confuse the body. Our bodies like consistency and habit. If you decide to lose weight, eat healthier food, and exercise more, your body will want to continue that habit. Once you introduce cheat days, your body reacts badly to them.

The unhealthy food shocks your digestive system, and it will either try to flush everything out fast or become bound up. As your body tries to fight the unhealthy food, it takes energy away from the rest of your body. If you’ve spent the past several days reducing the amount of food and amount of carbohydrates, this could equal severe fatigue.

The unhealthier cheat food tends to be higher in sugar. This means your body will have to produce more insulin, which affects your serotonin and dopamine levels. This could cause a sudden spike of happiness followed by depression. If these hormones fluctuate, so does your testosterone and estrogen. Norepinephrine and noradrenaline become thrown off, and these throw off ghrelin and leptin, your hunger hormones.

The cascade reaction confuses your body and causes it to move further into a survival mode, which means it tries to store everything it can without releasing anything. This causes your weight loss to stall.

Overall, cheat days make you think you feel good, but they harm your body in the long run.

4. Target Trouble Spots

If you were building muscle and strength, targeting specific muscles will help build them up and create balance. But that doesn't work so much with weight loss. The body has a preferred method of flushing out stored energy and this preferred method varies from person to person. Your body will pull from your stores based on your individual needs.

Work the Core | Fighting Arts Health Lab

If you're focused on building muscle, your body will pull triglycerides from the adipose tissue in and around your muscles first.

You cannot target a specific muscle, merely large groups. For example, all martial artist should work on strengthening the core muscles.

This will help reduce the amount of fat stored around your core and build up strength. This strength keeps your back safe, your stances low, and your organs safe when you take a hit.

5. Drastic Action Required

This one is true to a degree. If you are looking to lose weight, you need to make a solid decision and a dedicated commitment. For some people, this may require the drastic action of joining a gym, beginning an exercise program, and radically changing the diet.

What it does not require are high intensity and extreme workouts. If you are not used to much activity, you should choose actions and exercises that are a step above what you were doing now. From there, you can continue to increase until you are working on high-intensity activities.

If you start out with a drastic jump in your activity level, you’re more likely to hurt yourself and drop out of the program before you accomplish anything.

6. The Speed Of Weight Loss

It took you more than a few days to put on the weight. It will take more than a few days to take it off. On average, healthy weight loss is between 5 and 10 pounds per month. This amount is sustainable in the long-term and does not shock your system.

Many people expect weight lose 5 to 10 pounds per week. Many weight loss programs claim you can do this. Unfortunately, it is not something you can do and be healthy. Even for people who are grossly, morbidly obese, this type of weight loss is potentially dangerous. 

To achieve this type of weight loss, you have to maintain an exceptionally high degree of activity for long periods of time combined with a severely restricted diet. This type of work shocks the body, and the vast majority of people are not prepared or healthy enough to sustain it.

Additionally, toxins may be stored in the adipose tissue. As the body flushes out the adipose tissue, it releases the toxins into the blood. The body then has to detox these problems. If toxins are released too fast, a person may become sick or go into shock.

7. Sweating Out The Fat

You can’t remove fat through sweat. You remove water and electrolytes through sweat.Finland and Denmark show that saunas and the process of sweating help stabilize the body, remove toxins, and balance electrolytes. The secondary effect helps people increase their weight loss. So, while you won’t sweat out the fat, using saunas and sweating techniques will improve your weight loss experience.

8. Yo-Yo Dieting

Yo-yo dieting is the process of a short-term diet to lose some weight, followed by a period of weight gain, followed by more dieting attempts. People do lose weight and gain weight in this fashion quite often. However, the effects on the body are much more long-lasting.

The process of yo-yo dieting affects people mentally, disrupting the balance of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Some studies have correlated yo-yo dieting to increased risk of depression.

Other studies have shown that yo-yo dieting puts a strain on the heart, increasing the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and atherosclerosis. Yo-yo dieting can be anything from 2 to 3 lb weight difference to 50 lb of weight. The more you vary your weight, the more risk you put your body in.

9. Alcohol Is Forbidden

Alcohol is a double-edged sword, because alcohol, wine, beer, and liquor contain a significant number of carbohydrates. Alcohol also needs to be detoxified in the liver, which places your weight loss on hold until the liver is finished clearing out the alcohol. There are no redeeming properties of hard liquor except for a few faint traces of minerals.

A beer that contains the sediment and yeast can provide the body a hefty dose of B vitamins. This type of beer can only be found fresh in small, local breweries. The stuff in the cans and bottles in the stores doesn’t count.

Red wine has also been shown to help increase weight loss and help protect the heart. The darker the wine, the healthier it is.

If you do choose to drink some alcohol, we do not recommend consuming any liquor, keeping your beer consumption to no more than six to eight ounces per day, and consuming no more than 4 to 6 oz of red wine.

10. Fasting Speeds Weight Loss

Fasting and detoxification are incredibly healthy and can help the body flush out the digestive system, toxins, and promote weight loss. But, you should not use fasts or detoxes to lose weight.

Much of the weight loss that occurs during a fast or a detox comes from allowing the digestive system to flush out built-up waste, the bacteria, and fluid. Fasting and detoxification helps clear the liver of stored glycogen.

During a proper fast or detox, you will still be providing your body nutrients to continue energy production and proper metabolism. Otherwise, it is self-starvation. In a starvation condition, the body locks down the weight loss activities to retain as many nutrients and sugars as possible. It is only when the body is receiving proper nutrition the body feel safe enough to lose weight.

This is one of the problems of intermittent fasting. The body recognizes the lack of nutrients as a starvation and shuts down weight loss and slows the metabolism. Intermittent fasting should only be tried under the supervision of a nutritionist where all nutrients are still consumed properly.

11. Weight Loss Being Consistent

Weight loss never occurs in a straight line. When a person begins losing weight, the body can flush out a good portion initially. After a few days to a few weeks, the body needs to rebalance itself. You may stop losing any more weight while blood vessels realign, bones rebalance, organs adjust their function, and muscles relearn positioning.

Once the body reestablishes this balance, weight loss will continue.

Various times of the year and various health conditions can cause weight loss to come, go and stall out. During winter, when people tend to be inside more often, and there is less sun, weight loss is more difficult. When you are sick, you tend to lose weight very fast because your metabolism increases to fight the invader. After the illness, your weight loss may stall.

12. Supplements & Medications

Various supplements and medications promise weight loss. But, they cannot do it without you as an individual limiting unhealthy food, increasing healthy food, and increasing exercise. Additionally, some supplements and medications may cause you to increase weight or prevent weight loss. You should speak to a nutritionist about various supplements that will help you lose weight and talk to your doctor about the potential side effects of medications interfering with your weight loss.

13. Breakfast Is Necessary

Various studies have shown that when you eat food within 1 hour of waking up, it increases digestive rate, increases your metabolism, and gives you energy for the day. Breakfast is not necessary, but the food is. If you do not eat within one hour of waking up, it triggers the body into thinking that it will not have food the rest of the day. 

The body then slows down metabolic processes and forces it to hold onto various nutrients and sugars to avoid the starvation condition. When you eat something within an hour of waking up, you tell your body that food is available and everything is safe.

Breakfast foods are not a necessity and more of a cultural habit. Any food, as long as it's nutritious, should be eaten within one hour of waking up. It does not require a lot of food either. If you are not a breakfast person, an apple, yogurt, or a banana is enough.

14. “Diets” Work

At some point, a diet has worked for someone. The longevity of a diet fad is based on its ability to help many people over long periods of time and proved to be a healthy form of weight loss. Very few diets have ever qualified for that distinction.

The top diets that meet this qualification include moderate carbohydrate diets, the Paleo Diet, and natural food diets. Diets that have proved to be unhealthy include all types of low-fat diets, vegetarian diets, vegan diets, low protein diets, very low carbohydrate diets, high-carbohydrate diet, and high quantity diets.

15. “Diet” Foods Are Healthy

Natural foods are part of every healthy diet. However, all processed foods that are considered diet foods are not healthy. These foods generally have the fats removed and sugars or chemicals replacing them.

The vast majority of diet foods contain chemicals, colors, processed ingredients, and very little nutrition. They are designed to satisfy a customer who does not know about nutrition and wants to have their candies and cookies, regardless of the cost on the body.

One of the most startling examples of this is diet sodas. In the beginning, they were touted as a way to cut sugars and calories. Unfortunately, the aspartame that was used and is still being used in any diet sodas is a known endocrine disruptor, neurotransmitter disruptor, and encourages weight gain.

16. “Diet” Drinks Work

This is the same thing as diet food. Diet drinks typically replace natural ingredients with chemicals. All chemicals are unhealthy. If you follow a natural food diet that limits processed foods and high sugars, you’ll be much healthier.

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About the author

Christina Major is a Holistic Nutritionist, Naturopath, and herbalist. She owns Crystal Holistic Health, a nutritional consulting and writing business specializing in complementary and alternative medicine. She has over a decade of helping people find health, lose weight, and get off medications. Christina has practiced martial arts for 18 years. Staring with an eclectic group in college, she practiced Tang Soo Do and Tai Kwan Do for three years after graduation. After moving to Central PA, she began studying Taijutsu where she obtained a 2nd-degree black belt and studied the art directly under the Soke and top Shihan in Japan. She met her husband, a 5th-degree in class, where they enjoy giving each other bruises and kisses.

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