by Robert Maxwell
With such a high and growing number of overweight and obese people around, you’d think interest in weight loss would be at an all-time low. In fact, the opposite is true. Despite swelling numbers of swelling people, amounts of diet and exercise books sold, health clubs joined and personal trainers hired have never been higher. So why the disconnect? On the surface, these two facts don’t seem to fit together. With the fitness industry’s revenue reaching well into the billions in North America, you’d think health and weight loss would be on the rise, too. The fact that they’re not boils down to one unfortunate truth – far too many people believe weight loss lies. As with all multi-billion dollar industries, the fitness machine has no vested interested in spreading the truth if doing so won’t make money. That’s why ineffective but trendy diet plans, gym memberships, and snake oil fat burning supplements continue to be sold by the truckload. If you want to sidestep this trend and avoid being fooled by an industry that’s hoodwinked tens of millions of people, you need the ability to identify weight loss lies. Here are 5 of the most common ones.
You Need to do Cardio to Lose Weight
To be clear, I’m not saying cardio is bad. I’m not even saying it won’t help you lose weight. Cardiovascular exercise of any sort strengthens your heart, lungs, and bones, and makes your whole body tick more efficiently. That said, it’s not essential for weight loss. Only one thing is needed to lose weight – a caloric deficit. That’s it. There are many proofs of this throughout history. The victims of Nazi concentration camps didn’t spend any time on treadmills or elliptical machines, yet they still lost huge amounts of weight, many to the point of starvation. The reason is simple – they were given less food than their bodies required to maintain their original weight. In other words, they were forcibly placed in a continuous caloric deficit, so they lost weight. Obviously this is an extreme example, but an instructive one. Eat less than you burn and you’ll lose weight. Regular cardio means you’ll burn more calories, making a caloric deficit easier to achieve, but it’s certainly not necessary for weight loss.
Eating Healthy Foods Causes Weight Loss
“Why aren’t I losing weight? I’ve cut out sweets and switched to brown rice and whole grain pasta, and nothing’s happening!” Frustrated clients often ask me some version of this question, certain they’re doing everything right, and that their body has somehow defied the laws of biology and physics by refusing to lose weight. Needless to say, their body isn’t the problem. In terms of weight loss, there’s no difference between 100 calories of healthy food and 100 calories of junk. Amount of energy delivered is the same. This isn’t just conjecture, either. Back in 2010, Mark Haub, professor of nutrition at Kansas State University, spent 10 weeks eating only junk food: twinkies, Doritos, sweet cereals and cookies. He lost 27 pounds. Through careful management of his daily caloric intake, he made sure that despite the poor nutritional value of the foods he was eating, he remained in a consistent calorie deficit.
You Can Out-Train a Bad Diet
The idea that you can eat whatever you want as long as you exercise is hogwash. If you believe this and hope to lose weight, prepare for disappointment. The reason, once again, boils down to calories. It takes a long time and lots of intensity to burn a significant number of calories through running on the treadmill, hopping on an elliptical machine, or any other exercise. Food, on the other hand, doesn’t take much time or effort to eat, especially if you have a weakness for it. If you’re prone to eating junky, high-calorie foods and plan to make up for it in the gym, better plan to be there a long time and do plenty of sweating. Calories are far easier to consume than to burn, which is why it’s extremely difficult for most overweight people to lose weight without managing what they eat, even if they exercise rigorously.
Weight Loss Success or Failure is a Product of Genetics
Your genetic makeup might have an impact on the rate at which you burn calories, that is, your metabolism, but genetics can’t change the laws of physics. If you eat less than you burn consistently, you WILL lose weight, even if both your parents are over 300 pounds. Genetic makeup can make weight loss harder or easier, but can’t make it possible or impossible. If you’re overweight and blaming your parents or grandparents for cursing you with poor weight loss genetics, chances are you’re either lazy, or haven’t given weight loss a good, solid try.
Weight Loss is Basically Impossible After a Certain Age
If something is difficult and time consuming, you can bet human beings will come up with an amazing amount and variety of excuses for not doing it, even if it’s extremely beneficial. Weight loss is a perfect example. “Just wait until you get to my age”, I often hear older, out-of-shape people proclaim. “Then you’ll wish you could go back to being your age, and looking trim and healthy.” While it’s true that metabolism tends to slow down with age, that’s no excuse for becoming sedentary and letting the pounds pile on. Weight loss, health, and vitality are extremely possible for people of any age, and there are a great many fit older people who prove it, if you care to look.
Robert Maxwell is an online strength and fitness coach and founder of The Man Factory. Are you a man 50 or older? Become your best self at www.manfactorytraining.com/strength-north-of-50