Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Debunking Diet Myths

I only have a little over a month until I travel to England and I need to lose some weight! It's the same thing every year, I gain weight in the winter and then have to lose it right before bikini season hits. I am also unfortunate that I inherited genes that cause my weight to settle in my mid section and nowhere else! Whenever I hear the word muffin top, I cringe because if I let myself go that's what I'll have! There are two main types of weight gain, the first is apple (which is me - gain weight above the waist) and the second type is pear (gain weight below the waist). Most men form an apple figure when they gain weight, and most women form the pear shape. But women and men can have either type it all depends on the genes from ma and pa. So, if you HATE where you gain weight you can blame the parents! haha

I'm not a doctor or a dietician but I have the basic background of anatomy, physiology, and nutrition. The diet fads and diet myths that circulate the nation don't take a rocket scientist to debunk. However, most people have been convinced of the misconceptions that have been propagated by the media and big corporations.

Myth #1: All protein diets such as Atkins diet cause people to lose weight because there are no carbs!

         Truth: The reason people lose weight on all protein diets isn't because they cut out all other foods, but because people get sick of eating meat so they eat less. It's the same phenomenon when a person eats the same food day after day. Proteins are broken up into smaller units that can be used by our body called amino acids. Amino acids provide energy the same way that carbohydrates and fats provide. If a person were to eat more calories worth of protein then they burned off they would gain weight. The law of physics does not give a special pass for protein. Protein provides 4 calories to the gram, fats are 9 calories to the gram, and carbohydrates are 4 calories to the gram.  (alcohol is 7 calories to the gram) fyi
     However, it's beneficial to eat 'a little more' protein on a diet because it's broken down in the stomach. A little more protein in a diet will cause a person to 'feel' fuller because the stomach's main job is to break down protein. The HCl, that the parietal cells in the stomach produce, bring the pH below 2 and that's when chemical break down of proteins begins. The more protein in a diet, the longer it takes for the stomach to break down the food. 
      BUT, if a person were to only eat protein every day it would be detrimental to their health. Our body requires that we consume 50 to 150 grams of glucose (carbohydrates). Our brain is powered ONLY on glucose, so our body requires 'new' glucose from carbs each day. Amino acids cannot be converted to glucose unless they are first converted to stored fat.When our body breaks apart fat a waste product called ketones is released. Ketones in a low amount isn't harmful. But in high doses for long periods of time, such as Atkins diets, are very harmful to our body. Every successful diet results in fat being broken down and ketones as a waste product, BUT all protein diets cause higher levels than a balanced diet.

Myth #2: Carbohydrates and fats are bad and our body stores them differently.

         Truth: The key to remember is that everything is good in a balance. Our body needs nutrients/vitamins/minerals from all the food categories. If we cut out fats and carbs our body would be deficient in the nutrients they provide. Yes fats are good for us (in moderation of course) they provide for us a source of essential fatty acids. If a person is lacking in one area of the food pyramid there will be nutrition deficiencies. 
      Our body doesn't store excess amino acids (proteins), monosaccarides (carbohydrates), and or fatty acids (fats) differently. Our body uses amino acids for building and replacing our own protein in our body and anything left over is used as fuel or stored as fat. Monosaccarides and fatty acids are used as energy until we don't need them and they are stored as fat. Our body stores all excess energy as fat. There aren't any special stores of protein, fats, or carbohydrates. All three of these are converted to the same fat. If you eat a hersey's bar or a big fatty steak the place your body will store it depends on your liver. Your liver dictates where fat is stored. And fat is stored in accordance of our genes. Same with alcohol! People get 'beer bellies' because of excess energy not because of drinking alcohol.

Myth #3: Eating the same amount of food plus exercise will result in huge weight loss.

        Truth: The most important thing about losing weight is consuming less energy than you expend. The science doesn't get more complex than that. An average woman needs around 1,800 calories a day to maintain her weight. But this also changes on activity level and how old she is. Time and time again a dedicated woman will work out 2-3 hours a day and not lose weight. The reason is that she is probably consuming more food than she is working off or just breaking even. It is essential to set a diet plan before you decide on an exercise plan. I'm not a fan of exercising, especially when I'm dieting. The good news is a person can lose weight without breaking a sweat if he/she eats less.

The Diet Plan we can all work with
I've used this diet plan everytime I want to lose weight. And it works everytime! It's the old count your calories diet. It seems like a lot of work to count out and portion all your food, but it is the most effective and safest way to lose weight.

*A woman who needs about 1,800 calories a day must work on a budget of 1,000 to 1,200 calories. So, essentially cut out between 600 to 800 calories every day. 
*No restrictions on the kinds of foods one eats (but a good balance of protein, fat, fruits, vegetables, and carbs is the healthiest of course).
*The first three days are the hardest. So, portion out some dessert at the end of the day to make the diet seem not as restrictive. (I eat ice cream every day when I diet, just a small portion)
*Don't consume more calories if you work out. Instead be happy to know you are burning even more weight!
*You don't need to work-out, but you will lose weight faster if you do. Exercising will burn fat and increase your metabolism.
*You will lose between 1 to 2 pounds a week. (depending on amount of exercise)
*This diet is not harsh on your body. You will see results within a few weeks. And if you crave a certain food. Eat it. Just portion it out into your diet budget.
*You become aware of how many calories food has, so when you reach your goal you have also learned how to maintain your weight loss ( liquid diets or no carb diets don't teach people how to eat right when they are off the diet).

Good luck geting into bikini shape!!

*sources: Fundamentals of Physiology by Lauralee Sherwood,  images from Yahoo*


  1. My husband and I just finished the Whole 30! It has been one of the best things we have ever done! It comes highly recommended and we have seen great results!


    1. I had to look up that diet plan. Sounds like a new version of Atkins diet. As long as you ate enough fruit (which has glucose but at lower levels) of 50 to 150 grams every day. So to put that in perspective that's about 4 to 12 cups of cantaloupe a day. That's awesome it worked for you! And they do work for people but once people aren't on that plan they go back to eating in excess. So, it's more beneficial to eat 'healthier' and also cut down on your normal every day food. Cause you aren't going to always just eat meat, veggies, and fruit once you're done.