Weight Loss Myths and Facts
In a weight loss process, numbers on the scale are the only thing that counts
MYTH! We give too much importance to bodyweight. Surprised? Bodyweight does not give any indications about the fat-to-muscle ratio. Indeed, even if your bodyweight stays the same, it is possible that you are adding muscle mass while reducing your bodyfat percentage, and therefore, your waistline as well. For more information on body composition and the assessment methods offered at Nautilus Plus, read the article “1 pound of muscle versus 1 pound of fat”. Also, do not disregard all the changes you have successfully made in your lifestyle. Regardless of your bodyweight, you will notice improvements on your health, general fitness, sleep, shape, stress level, etc.
Walking uses up enough calories to lose weight
TRUTH! To lose weight, you must spend more calories than you ingest. Even if walking is not a very demanding exercise, it still requires calories. So, by eating a little bit less and moving a little bit more, you will lose weight. As a matter of fact, current data1, 2 shows that using a pedometer and following a walking program can create a low-to-moderate weight loss. However, it is best to add more intense and carefully-planned muscular and cardiovascular exercises to your daily walks. A personal trainer will be able to advise you for this purpose.
Fasting speeds up weight loss
MYTH! On the short term, fasting only causes a loss of water and muscle mass. Therefore, bodyweight is reduced, but not necessarily bodyfat. The body uses its reserves of sugar first (glycogen). This process is what causes us to flush out water. Also, because the brain feeds only on sugar, the body has defense mechanisms in place to ensure a constant supply. It transforms proteins into sugar and, given time, muscle mass decreases. This phenomenon causes us to become less and less efficient when we exercise. It also decreases our metabolism, i.e., we begin to spend less calories at rest, which encourages weight gain. In short, a healthy and active lifestyle is the best road to a lasting weight loss.
The body only begins to use fat after 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise
TRUTH, BUT…! It is true that the organism requires a certain amount of time before it begins to use fat as an energy source during exercise (about 20 to 30 minutes).3 However, the use of either sugar or fat also depends on intensity. Even if fat reserves are used mostly during low-intensity exercise, such exercises do not necessarily guarantee optimal results. In truth, with the aim of losing weight in mind, the most important thing is to burn a maximum of calories, regardless of their type. This is without considering other advantages of high-intensity training: it stimulates the metabolism4, improves physical condition at a faster rate, uses more calories in the same amount of time, etc.
By Mathieu Rousseau
1 Richardson CR, Newton TL, Abraham JJ, Sen A, Jimbo M, Swartz AM. A meta-analysis of pedometer-based walking interventions and weight loss. Ann Fam Med. Jan-Feb;6(1):69-77, 2008.
2 Maturi MS, Afshary P, Abedi P. Effect of physical activity intervention based on a pedometer on physical activity level and anthropometric measures after childbirth: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 16;11:103. doi: 10.1186/1471-2393-11-103, 2011.
3 Gropper, SS, Smith, JL. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism 5th. ed., Nelson Thomson Learning. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 2009.
4 LaForgia J, Withers RT, Gore CJ. Effects of exercise intensity and duration on the excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. J Sports Sci. Dec;24(12):1247-64, 2006.