3 Fat Loss Nutrition Myths to Avoid

Say goodbye to fat loss food myths starting now...

Myth:

“A widely held, but false belief or idea”

“An exaggerated or idealised conception of a person or thing”

As Manchester Personal Trainers we have pretty much heard all the nutrition myths possible. One thing that does still surprise us though are that some myths just won’t go away. 

3 Fat Loss Nutrition Myths

Too frequently nutrition advice is sought from individuals who have the greatest social media following, with a disregard to whether this individual holds credible nutrition qualifications. 

In some instances our firm held beliefs can cloud our judgement, with anecdotal evidence and personal experience, not scientific evidence, often cited.

The issue with nutrition myths are that they can impact on your progress. 

Unnecessary avoidance of certain foods restricts the options available to you. Not great for diet adherence. 

Let’s not forget food enjoyment and our psychological relationship with food too!

Which myths do we often hear? 

Let’s take a look and see what the science says.

Myth 1: There is a single best diet for weight loss

Shall I let you in on the real nutrition truth? 

There is no single magic weight loss diet. 

No matter what your favourite fitness influencer is trying to sell you!

All dietary approaches that bring about weight loss certainly have one thing in common

They place you within a negative energy balance (calorie deficit), where energy intake is less than energy expenditure. 

It has, unfortunately, become all too predictable when reading the setup of the latest self-proclaimed ‘best diets’. 

The notion of calories and energy balance is questioned, yet they will subconsciously and we might add sneakily, require you to reduce your calorie intake, and thereby create a negative energy deficit all the same.

Any choice that ends up with you in a calorie deficit (consuming fewer calories than you expend), will therefore lead to the desired outcome of weight loss within individuals without medical complications. 

Let’s take a look at some common nutrition approaches:

Low carb & high fat or low fat & high carb

The elimination of a food group (carbohydrates or fat) = restriction upon dietary choices = restriction of calories.

You end up in a calorie deficit and lose weight.

Intermittent fasting or alternate day fasting

Fast and eat within certain hours of the day = restriction upon dietary choices = restriction of calories.

You end up in a calorie deficit and lose weight.

Paleo

The elimination of sources (e.g. gluten/dairy containing) and inclusion of ‘clean’ sources = restriction upon dietary choices = restriction of calories.

You end up in a calorie deficit and lose weight.

Weight Watchers

The attachment of points to certain foods and a budget given upon daily calorie intake = restriction upon dietary choices = restriction of calories.

You end up in a calorie deficit and lose weight.

Although leading to weight loss, such diet approaches can be unnecessarily restrictive upon dietary choices, which do not take into account personal preference, activity levels, genetics and individual tolerance. 

Typically dieters will regain a certain amount of weight they lost after ending their diet. 

Therefore longer-term weight management and dietary adherence becomes an issue. 

Is this not why personal preference should be valued? 

Don’t get me wrong, some benefits can be drawn from the example diets above. 

With regards to Paleo there is an emphasis upon quality protein and healthy fat sources, and the regular inclusion of salad and vegetables is a great choice. 

However, it’s often accompanied by the elimination of certain food sources based upon a lack of scientific evidence or clinical diagnosis. 

And that provides an unnecessary dietary restriction, which could compromise adherence and long-term weight management. 

“What about the quality of the diet?” 

“Just east real food!” The diet gurus proclaim.

This is also obviously important with regards to health and weight management. 

Adequate protein inclusion within a diet is essential for maintenance/growth of muscle mass. 

When dieting, increasing protein intake is important for maintaining/increasing muscle mass. 

Additionally, the inclusion of increased protein will aid satiety and provide elevated energy expenditure via the thermic effect of feeding and maintenance of muscle.

This means that you feel for longer, burn more energy, and keep more of your active muscle, as your body isn’t breaking it down to use for fuel.

The size of the calorie deficit will also impact upon rate of your weight and muscle loss. 

Ensuring sufficient fat, carbohydrate and micronutrient intake are also important considerations. 

Myth 2: Regular meals boost metabolism

“Eat little and often to boost your metabolism”

How many times have you heard this before? 

Such advice is constantly repeated when individuals are starting out on their weight loss journey, but is this actually true? 

First, what actually do we mean when we refer to metabolism?

Metabolism refers to the chemical reactions within the body in order to maintain life. The amount of energy an individual expends daily is otherwise known as ‘Total Daily Energy Expenditure’ (TDEE). TDEE encompasses 4 components: 

1. Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) – the energy you are expending sat there right now to maintain life whilst you read this. 

2. The Thermic Effect of Food (TEF) – otherwise known as ‘Diet Induced Thermogenesis’ (DIT). This is the energy expended through the digestion, absorption and storage of food. 

3. Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT) – energy expended through planned exercise. 

4. Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) encompasses energy expended during non-planned exercise activity (e.g. walking around work) and spontaneous activity (e.g. fidgeting). 

Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)

The suggestion that regularly eating meals will enhance metabolism is based upon the belief that increasing the frequency of TEF stimulation will elevate overall TEF contribution to total daily energy expenditure. 

TEF typically contributes approximately 10-15% of TDEE depending up the macronutrient composition of daily intake. 

However, when calories/macronutrients are matched there is no difference in overall TEF between a frequent or less frequent feeding pattern. 

For example, 5 small regular meals vs. 3 larger less frequent meals, where total calories (2400 kcal) and macronutrient consumption are matched:

5 Small Regular Meals

Breakfast: TEF = 48kcal

Snack: TEF = 48kcal

Lunch: TEF = 48kcal

Snack: TEF = 48kcal

PM Meal: TEF = 48kcal

Total TEF = 240kcal

 

3 Large Less Frequent Meals

Breakfast: TEF = 80kcal

 

Lunch: TEF = 80kcal

 

 PM Meal: TEF = 80kcal

Total TEF = 240kcal

 It is important to acknowledge that there may be certain situations that may benefit an increased meal frequency:

Myth 3: Don’t eat carbohydrates in the evening

“Don’t eat carbs in the evening.” 

A line that I often hear repeated time and time again. 

Some people are now avoiding carbohydrate intake in the evening in the belief that such consumption will result in fat gain. 

Should we all be shunning those carbohydrates in the evening? 

As with any claim it is important we take a look at the scientific research. Please note: the below refers to chronic changes in body fat/mass and not acute changes.

Often the belief that carbohydrate intake in the evening results in fat gain is based upon correlative data. 

However, it is important to remember that correlation does not always equal causation!

Therefore, to inform our approach it is important we look towards controlled studies. 

One particular study over 6 months monitored the effects of a low calorie diet with carbohydrates consumed mostly at dinner or spread evenly throughout the day.

The study looked at its effects on anthropometric measurements, hunger, insulin, metabolic syndrome and inflammation. 

Both groups consumed the same total macronutrients (20% protein, 30-35% fat, 45-50% carbohydrate).

But one group consumed the majority of carbohydrate at dinner, whereas the other group evenly distributed carbohydrate at all meals. 

What did they find?

However, there are certain limitations with this study. 

Interestingly, within a well controlled study no metabolic advantage was found for carbohydrate restriction (low carbohydrate/high fat diet), in comparison to higher carbohydrate intakes, for enhancing body fat loss. 

This therefore rejects the claim that carbohydrate restriction is required for body fat loss. 

The intake of carbohydrate will not result in body fat/weight gain, unless total energy intake exceeds total energy expenditure. 

The consumption of a particular food group (carbohydrate, protein or fat) does not cause weight gain, but the overconsumption of calories. 

For an increase in body mass, the individual must be in a calorie surplus, whereas for weight loss a calorie deficit is required. 

When calorie intake and expenditure are the same, weight is maintained. 

Some keyboard warriors, self-proclaimed ‘nutrition experts’, celebs, influencers, as well as quite a few people who should know better, are still trying to argue about (amongst many other nutrition myths!), but the weight of the science is clear.

You should opt for a dietary approach based upon personal preference and one that you can consistently adhere to – while reaching your goals of course!

Focus should be upon consistently achieving target total daily intakes of calories and macronutrients (carbohydrate, fat, protein) for the day. 

Once this is achieved then an individual can base timing upon personal preference (in the morning or evening if you prefer or distributed throughout the day) or activity demands. 

Athletes or individuals who are training should consider the timing of carbohydrate with regards to their training sessions or competition for fuelling performance and recovery. 

The wrap

So there we have it. 

Three common myths that don’t hold up when under the research microscope.

As Manchester city centre personal trainers we place great emphasis upon providing our clients with evidence based support. 

Not with the aim that they can recite a research paper back to us, but to help increase their nutrition knowledge and provide the nutrition freedom to include the foods that they enjoy without unnecessary restriction!

This is an approach achieves sensational results time after time, so ditch the extreme approaches that don’t (and can’t) last, and invest in long term solutions that help you to look, feel, and perform at your best today, tomorrow, and forever.

To your lean, healthy, optimised future,

Josh & the Optimised personal training team

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