Carbs are not evil. No single food item or food group will make you fat unless you overeat it, says Jitendra Chouksey.
India is among the leading countries in terms of lifestyle diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc.
This is a result of the sedentary lifestyle along with unhealthy eating habits that an average Indian follows.
Over time, these diseases have become a major cause of death across the country.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) reported that the number of deaths due to Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) increased from 37.09% in 1990 to 61.8% in 2016. The problem usually starts with being over-weight.
On the other hand, trends on the social media capture a different picture: People ranging from teenagers to middle-aged professionals aspire to become fit.
They actively follow #Fitness, which has over 364 million posts on Instagram.
Scroll through and you’ll be inundated with posts by 'Fitness Influencers' who claim to have the perfect solution for your health woes.
The hashtag #weightloss has 59.8 million posts and many of these seem to be about special-diets, pills and potions that promise you instant results.
Even though fitness regimes, videos and discussions are trending more than ever, the fitness levels of Indians are continuously plummeting.
This is because there is a huge gap between the effort they put in and the fitness goals they envision to achieve.
This gap is created by certain myths and lies about fitness that are making rounds on the internet. If you truly value your health, then it’s crucial to separate truths about fitness from the myths.
Myth # 1: Fat loss and weight loss are the same
You need to understand the difference between your weight and the fat component of the body.
Your total body weight includes the weight of your fat, muscle tissue, water, bones and organs.
Thus weight loss might not necessarily mean that you have lost the excess fat as well. For losing weight the healthy way, focus on the excess fat by following a balanced workout regime and a healthy diet.
Myth # 2: Warm water, honey and lemon help you lose fat
The Lie: If you take warm water with a teaspoon of lemon juice and a little honey first thing in the morning, your fat will melt and you’ll become thin.
The Truth: Your body is not a clogged pipe and drinking warm water with lemon juice or honey cannot possibly flush out the fat from it.
Drinking a good amount of water hydrates the body, and aids digestion. But it is not an instant fat-loss elixir.
Myth # 3: Carbohydrates make you fat
The Lie: Carbs are evil. They raise your blood sugar levels and the subsequent release of insulin leads to weight gain.
If you want to lose weight, then you need to adopt a low carb diet or rather eliminate carbohydrates from your diet altogether.
The Truth: Carbohydrates such as rice, potatoes and sugar get converted into glucose which is a major source of energy for your body.
They fuel your activities and provide you the energy you need for a workout. No single food item or food group will make you fat unless you overeat it.
Myth # 4: Consuming fats make you fat
The Lie: If you consume fats such as butter, ghee or nuts, you will automatically gain weight. Cutting out all kinds of fats will help you lose weight.
The Truth: While it is true that fats are calorie-dense (1 gram contains 9 calories), they are also difficult to over-consume.
Moreover, they are an important macronutrient that is needed for carrying out functions such as producing hormones, aiding nutrient absorption and many others.
Eliminating them from your diet can lead to deficiencies and hormonal imbalances.
As stated above, no single food group causes fat gain. You need to keep a balance between the calories consumed and calories that you burn, in order to address fat gain.
Myth # 5: Cardio is the best exercise for weight loss
The Lie: Cardio gets your heart and pulse racing. That’s how you push your body to lose weight.
Besides, cardio makes you sweat which only shows that it’s working!
The Truth: There is a concept called EPOC or Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption. Also known as the after-burn effect, it means the ability of your body to continue burning extra calories even after you’ve stopped exercising.
Resistance training has an EPOC which can last for 36 to 72 hours after your workout has ended.
On the other hand, cardio does not have any after-burn effect, which means that the minute you stop doing the exercise, you will also stop burning excess calories. Thus the former is much more effective than cardio when it comes to facilitating fat loss.
Myth # 6: Indulgence in festival foods does not make you fat
The Lie: You can eat shrikhand, puri and other festival foods on those special days and not worry about gaining weight.
Our ancestors were very wise and these regional food combinations are cleverly designed to provide us with nutrients rather than making us fat.
The Truth: All kinds of foods, festive or not, contain calories. In fact, festive foods are generally high on oil and sugar content, both of which can stall any fitness progress that you have made.
If you eat too many calories and do so for a sustained period of time, it will surely result in fat gain.
Your body doesn’t understand the significance of festivals and treats all calories equally, irrespective of when you eat them.
Myth # 7: The myth of 'the perfect diet'
The Lie: 'There is one perfect diet or the golden formula to lose weight'
The Truth: The perfect diet does not exist.
As everyone is different, the nutritional requirements also might vary from person to person.
What works for one, might not work for others. Moreover, a diet will work only if you follow it consistently along with a balanced exercise routine and a healthy lifestyle.
Pick a diet that contains healthy foods which you enjoy, aim to keep a caloric deficit and follow this plan for a sustained period of time.
Myth # 8: Supplements will help you lose weight
The Lie: Meal replacement drinks, diet pills and special natural ingredients will help you lose weight and keep it off.
The Truth: The supplements industry is massive and is worth billions of dollars.
Companies push their products hoping that customers will fall for their marketing tactics and buy their products.
The truth is that no supplement comes close to the quality nutrition that healthy foods provide.
A healthy diet keeps you satiated and even if it takes some time to show the results, it is surely worth the wait.
On the other hand, supplements do no good to the body. The best way to lose fat is to follow a quantified diet, adopt a suitable exercise regime and stick to it for long term benefits.
Myth # 9: Breakfast helps you lose weight
The Lie: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It boosts your metabolism and helps you burn more calories throughout the day, thus aiding weight loss.
The Truth: Eating a fulfilling breakfast is important to start the day in a healthy way. It can provide you with the fuel you need to keep going throughout the day. But don’t expect it to impact your weight.
If you don’t follow a healthy diet, nothing, including a good breakfast can help you lose fat.
Overall calories matter. Meal timings may be important for elite athletes but for an average person, who wants to lose fat, it’s much more important to pay attention to the overall food intake.
Myth # 10: You can't lose weight because you lack willpower/motivation
The Lie: You just need to stay motivated and things will fall into place. If you’ve been unable to lose weight, that just means you lack the will to lose weight.
Fix your attitude and results have to follow!
The Truth: There are a number of factors that aid and hinder fat loss.
While willpower is one factor, there are several other things like food habits, immediate environment, genes, certain hormonal imbalances etc.
Blaming your motivation level for the lack of results does more harm than good. Take a wider view of things try to make long-term lifestyle changes and you will see better results.
Ultimately, all you need to do is cancel out the noise such myths are making and identify what works best for you.
With a consistently healthy diet, workout routine and peaceful mind, you can have a better chance of losing weight and staying on the fitness track throughout your life.
Jitendra Chouksey is founder of FITTR, an online fitness and wellness community.
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