In part 1 we busted 4 myths relating to eating frequency, carbohydrate timing, cardio use, and cardio timing and now we are going to delve a little further into the next 4 myths of fat loss. Do you have to eat super low carbs, eat protein in every meal, avoid fruit or remove artificial sweeteners from your diet? In this article I round out the top 8 weight loss myths discussing the above topics and finally put to rest the top 8 weight loss myths and why they are in fact false.
The Claim: You must eat low carb to lose fat
The Facts: While it is necessary to reduce muscle glycogen to an extent to allow for lipolysis (the breakdown of fat) to occur and it is also advantageous to reduce your total insulin load for the day (total amount of carbs eaten) you by no means have to eat extremely low carbs.
Your brain and organs require in the vicinity of 80-100g of glucose per day to simply maintain function as glucose is their preferential fuel source.
Carbohydrates are also the #1 macronutrient responsible for preventing the loss of muscle tissue, of which the more muscle you maintain the higher your metabolism remains and the more fat you can burn.
Carbohydrates are also primary stimulatory macronutrient for healthy thyroid function and when eaten at appropriate levels can maintain healthier thyroid hormone output and consequently maintain a better performing thyroid and metabolism.
Carbohydrates are not a preventative of fat loss, overconsumption of calories is.
The Claim: You must eat protein at every meal
The Facts: While protein is the most thermogenic macronutrient of the 3 (meaning your body burns more calories to break it down compared to carbs and fats) and it is critically important for maintaining a positive nitrogen balance, it is not necessary for it to be timed in each meal.
Protein requirements first and foremost should be considered a daily target not a per meal target. Eating a certain frequency of protein does not directly affect total thermogenesis or fat loss.
After considering your daily targets are being met, protein frequency can then be considered for things like satiety, as it dampens hunger but this factor should be 100% individualised, as there is no 1 rule fits all approach for nutrient timing.
The Claim: You should avoid fruit and fructose
The Facts: Fruit and more specifically fructose (fruit sugar) have been demonised in the popular media of late after research suggested it increased the risks of cancer and was linked to obesity.Unfortunately, what wasn’t mentioned is that the aforementioned study was first and foremost completed on rats (rats are not humans) and secondly they were fed exponential amounts of High Fructose Corn Syrup (man made poor quality fructose) for an excessively long time frame.
None of this study has relevance to human consumption, especially in Australia where HFCS is minimised in our manufacturing processes and secondly no individual will consume even close to the amounts of fructose in the rats that were studied.
In the context of a nutritious diet that takes into consideration your physical, mental, emotional and social well-being, the benefits received from the nutritious portion of fruit far outweigh any proposed, albeit unfounded concerns.
Fruit is great for you. Eat it and enjoy it.
The Claim: Artificial sweeteners can inhibit fat loss
The Facts: Similar to Fructose and the studies referenced for their proposed health concerns, artificial sweetener science, unfortunately, comes from the same notion, whereby copious amounts of sweeteners were fed to rats to determine if there were negative health implications. In comparison to humans, the proposed upper limit intake of sweeteners such as aspartame that is required to cause ill health is in the vicinity of 30-40 cans of soft drink per day for greater than 30% of your life span.
Again this is not happening in our society.
Furthermore, artificial sweeteners have been proposed to increase the secretion of insulin, which is a storage hormone and one that has been demonised for causing fat gain despite no conclusive evidence to suggest it to be the case, however currently the only links to this occurring are when a sweetener is consumed alongside a carbohydrate meal, the insulin secretion may perhaps rise higher in the presence of a sweetener than it would without.
Now while this may sound bad on paper, the reality is that the law of thermodynamics is still at play regardless of a mild hormonal shift and fat loss is still determined by the calories consumed in an entire day. It is important to note however that current research is showing some indication that excessive artificial sweetener intake may lead to initiating gut microbiome dysbiosis, so limiting your intake to a reasonable consumption may be advisable.
Final Notes - The Myths
When looking at dietary claims pertaining to a health concern being linked to either a single nutrient (like sugar) or a sole problem (protein timing), it is important to always consider context.
While we may have studies or information that has been gathered that links one issue to another, for the large majority of times we cannot deem this evidence to be causative or contextual.
By simply accepting data at face value we are essentially removing the notion that lifestyle factors for all of us are the same of those for rats or humans in the studies being linked and this is not fair to do so.
Before considering a claim and its effect on your lifestyle, always ask yourself… What is the context of this claim and is it relevant to my lifestyle choices?