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Nutrition Expert Dispels 5 Myths About Weight Gain and Loss

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Nutrition Expert Dispels 5 Myths About Weight Gain and Loss

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, declared by President Obama in an effort to focus attention on the growing problem of childhood obesity. While there are many factors contributing to obesity in both children and adults, there are also a number of common myths regarding weight gain and weight loss.

Cooper Clinic Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Meridan Zerner, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD, dispels five common myths people often believe about weight gain and weight loss.

Myth: Carbs are fattening. I should limit them when trying to lose weight.

Fact: Carbohydrates (carbs) are the body's main source of fuel for energy. You don't have to limit all carbs to lose weight. There are two main types of carbs: simple carbs (sugars) and complex carbs (starches and fiber). Foods that are high in complex carbs—like fruits, veggies, and whole grains—provide a healthy supply of fiber, minerals and vitamins. Simple carbs from cake, candy, cookies, and sugar-sweetened desserts and drinks (including alcohol) have many calories and few nutrients.

Government dietary guidelines advise eating plenty of unrefined grains, like brown rice and whole-wheat bread, cereal and pasta. They also suggest that fruit and veggies should make up half of what is on your plate.
Myth: Lifting weights is not a good way to lose weight because it will make me "bulk up."

Fact: Lifting weights or doing activities like push-ups and crunches on a regular basis can help you build strong muscles, which can help you burn more calories. To strengthen muscles, you can lift weights, use large rubber bands (resistance bands), do push-ups or sit-ups or do household or yard tasks that make you lift or dig. Doing strengthening activities two or three days a week will not "bulk you up." Only intense strength training, along with certain genetics, can build large, bulky muscles.

Myth: I have to stop eating at five or six in the evening to lose weight.

Fact: Weight loss is about the total amount of calories you take in during the day, rather than the time of day that you eat. Some people are up later and may need to eat later. Choosing not to eat after five in the evening doesn't guarantee weight loss. Unless somone is eating over his or her daily calorie budget, they should be fine eating a little later.

Myth: If I have a high BMI, I need to lose weight.

Fact: While this is true for the majority of individuals, BMI (body mass index) is not always a realistic measurement of whether or not someone needs to lose weight. BMI has long been used to get a baseline sense of an individual’s overall health based on his or her weight to height ratio. It is easy and practical, whereas more specific body fat measurements can be expensive. There are a select few individuals who we might call “fit and fat,” who have good overall health, including cholesterol and heart parameters, but are considered “overweight” on the BMI scale.

Someone who has a great deal of muscle mass will weigh more and the standard BMI measurement does not account for fat versus muscle. Muscle mass weighs more, so more muscle could skew the results of a BMI test.

BMI should never be the sole means of determining whether or not you need to lose weight. Other important factors to consider include: bone density, weight history, blood glucose levels, cholesterol levels, body fat percentage, waist circumference, dietary habits and medications that may cause fluid retention or weight gain.

Myth: As long as I’m losing weight, it doesn’t matter how I’m doing it.

Fact: This is a trap we commonly fall into that leads to the unhealthy cycle of yo-yo dieting. Yo-yo dieting comes with both psychological and physical risks. Psychologically, yo-yo dieting means a continual weight gain/weight loss cycle. Re-gaining weight can be very discouraging and leave one feeling like a failure when in fact, it's the diet that failed. A healthy diet is sustainable over long periods of time and is designed for your lifestyle as well as likes and dislikes.

Physically, yo-yo dieting can lead to loss of muscle mass which can put undue stress on the heart. Lack of carb intake can cause difficulties with the brain, nervous system, muscles and energy. Liver problems, ketosis and nutrient deficiencies can also result from yo-yo dieting.

The Cooper prescription for weight loss takes all aspects of an individual into account. If you truly want to lose weight, work with a registered dietitian who can develop a nutrition plan that suits your lifestyle, food preferences and personal motivation needs. Balance a healthy diet with adequate amounts of exercise. The key to successful weight loss is a commitment to making changes in your diet and exercise habits that you can sustain for the rest of your life!

For more information on weight management from Cooper Clinic, click here.

Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.