Anyone who is trying to lose weight will no doubt have all kinds of information running through their mind each time they cook their dinner or plan a workout. With so many diet plans out there, it can be hard to keep up with the best way to lose weight, especially as so much of the advice seems to contradict itself depending on which method you choose. But what if some of the most common weight loss beliefs were actually stopping you from shedding the pounds?
From counting up your calories to avoiding carbs and taking up high intensity training, there are all kinds of diet tips that promise to help you to lose weight.
However, many of the promoted diet rules are designed to help you lose weight fast – which isn’t necessarily the best way to go about it.
Rhiannon Lambert, a registered nutritionist, founder of Rhitrition and author of the new ebook, A Simple Way To Fuel Fitness, often sees this in her clinic, where she specialises in weight management, disordered eating, and pre- and postnatal nutrition.
“At the Rhitrition clinic I see clients hoping for quick transformations and short term plans,” Rhiannon explained. “These may sound exciting, but all they tend to do is give you just a glimpse of those dreams – until suddenly they don’t.”
The expert advised that fast weight loss can be hard to keep up long term, with the immediate weight loss results being hard to maintain.
Instead you need a more sustainable plan that will work day in, day out, with foods that will give you the energy you need to keep up a healthy lifestyle – and stop you from reaching for the snack cupboard.
“When it comes to your diet, think about the quality of your nutrition and a balanced plate at meal times to help your overall health for mind and body,” Rhiannon warned.
Having worked in sports nutrition for years, Rhiannon has shared her food philosophy for how to eat well in a way that will boost your energy levels and fuel your workouts in her latest book – and debunks plenty of food and fitness myths along the way.
Exclusively for the Express, Rhiannon has revealed the top three diet myths that may be affecting your weight loss goals, and what you really need to focus on if you’re trying to slim down.
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You shouldn’t be aiming to lose weight
“Exercise is often associated with weight loss, but it’s fat loss that should be the goal,” explained Rhiannon.
The expert revealed that dieters often celebrate that they’ve lost weight, when actually it’s their muscles that they have lost.
“When you lose weight, you want to maximise fat loss, while minimising muscle loss,” said Rhiannon. This is why exercise is so important for any diet plan.
“If you simply reduce your calorie intake to lose weight, without exercising, you will probably lose muscle as well as fat.
“When you cut back on calories, your body is forced to find other sources of fuel. In fact, it’s been estimated that when people lose weight, about a quarter of the weight they lose is muscle.”
However, the nutritionist explained that you can’t always tell by what’s on the scales either, as if you do lose fat rather than muscle, the numbers may not drop too much – so don’t be disheartened if you’re not seeing a dramatic change and go by how you feel instead.
Forget the fat burning zone
If you spend your gym sessions aiming to get into the so-called “fat burning zone”, you might actually be reducing your chances of losing weight.
“A term that can be frequently used is ‘the fat burning zone’ when relating to weight loss, and is usually indicated on the cardio machine’s heart rate chart,” commented Rhiannon.
“Working out in the fat-burning zone means you’re keeping your intensity and heart rate relatively low.
“This means that of the calories you use, a greater proportion will come from fat.
“While this might sound good, you’ll actually burn more calories overall from working at a higher intensity.”
It’s not about the calories
Most diets focus on calorie intake – and burning off more than you eat. But what if it’s not that simple?
“Being aware of the calorie content in food has long been drummed into us, and those who try to lose weight often use a total daily calorie intake as a guide,” admitted Rhiannon, who doesn’t believe it is the best way to hit your goal weight.
“Calories really aren’t much more than a number and we shouldn’t be relying on calorie content alone to dictate what constitutes a healthy diet, as they can be deceptive and very damaging when used inappropriately,” the expert warned.
“Calories don’t tell you anything about the quality of your diet! Think about eating food, not calories and try as hard as you can to look at your diet as a whole instead of the sum of its parts.
“That means focusing on healthy items like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein, and it also means eating mindfully – slowing down, eating until you’re satisfied, and giving restriction a miss.”