Myth vs. Reality Around Food, Fat and Fat Loss.


1. MYTH: If I am on a low-fat diet, I will lose more fat than if I am on a low-carb diet.

REALITY SCORE: ZERO. Why? Dozens of studies prove that when low fat and low-carb diets of equal calories are compared, they provide the exact same amount of fat loss.

2. MYTH: There is one optimal fat loss program to lose weight – I just have to find it and my problems will be solved.

REALITY SCORE: ZERO. Why? In studies, Atkins vs. The Zone vs. Low-Fat vs. South Beach vs. Ornish, results show that fat loss differences between individual diets is small. The upshot? About equal amounts of fat loss occur with ANY low-carb or low-fat diet regardless of the type.

There isn’t only one type of diet that works for fat loss. The key is finding the fat loss diet that is going to be sustainable for you. The key word there is sustainable, because whatever you choose to do to lose the fat, you have to keep doing it for life if you want to keep the fat off. So choosing a diet that is unsustainable is just a recipe for weight regain.

3. MYTH: Carbs are the reason people are getting sick and fat.

REALITY SCORE: ZERO. Eating Carbs does not make you any fatter than eating equal amounts of calories from fat. While decades of diet gurus have tried to place the blame for the obesity epidemic on either fat or carbs, the science simply shows that there isn’t much to these claims.

Now, of course, eating refined carbohydrates and added sugars can cause you to eat more overall calories (which is absolutely fattening) but this has more to do with eating processed junk food than to do with any unique metabolic or hormonal effects of carbohydrates. Eating processed junk rich in fat has the exact same fattening effect.Studies have shown diets rich in whole food carbohydrates (for example, blueberries, carrots, and beans) are just as effective for fat loss as low-carb diets.

Avoiding refined carbohydrates and added sugars is certainly a smart idea, but don’t expect any magic from avoiding whole food carbohydrates. What is making us fat has much less to do with “carbs vs. fat” and much more to with whole foods vs. processed foods. To make it simple, you don’t lower your risk of fat gain, diabetes, or heart disease by choosing butter and steak over blackberries and lentils. Numerous recent scientific studies that compare high-carb and low-carb diets of equal calories show exactly EQUAL rates of fat loss.

4. MYTH: Fat loss is just a simple matter of calories in, calories out.

REALITY SCORE: ZERO. Why? While calories DO absolutely matter, most studies indicate that consciously trying to starve the body of calories by forcing yourself to eat less has abysmal longterm success rates. A recent comprehensive analysis on the long-term diet studies was conducted at UCLA and found that diets fail over 95% of the time to achieve long-term fat loss.

While calorie reduction does work very well at the beginning to achieve plenty of fat loss, after a while your body initiates a whole set of hormonal and metabolic responses to being deprived that drives your biology to PILE ALL THE WEIGHT BACK ON AND MORE. What we need to lose the weight and keep it off is more than simply starving the body of calories—we need to optimize our nutrition and lifestyle in specific ways that rewire our body’s metabolism and hormones to support lasting fat loss.

5. MYTH: I can eat whatever foods I want while losing fat – I can even eat donuts or ice cream – if at the end of the day I control my portion sizes and overall calorie intake.

REALITY SCORE: ZERO. Why? While people do use this strategy successfully for SHORT TERM results in bodybuilding and physique competitions, it tends not to be very effective for long-term fat loss. That’s because it will tend to negatively impact health, energy levels, key brain centers involved in appetite regulation, gut health, and hormones in a way that cumulatively works to drive fat gain over time.

Eating a low food quality diet (high in processed foods) and relying on conscious portion control can work for short-term weight loss. But in the long run, it depletes willpower reserves too much and ends up with you having to constantly fight against your biology. For lasting fat loss, it requires an approach that doesn’t rely on fighting against your biology, which means that means that increasing the food quality of your diet is a much smarter approach. (see below)

6. MYTH: I can eat foods high in fat and sugar and with my willpower I can say ‘no’ to these foods when I want. Easy!

REALITY SCORE: ZERO. Why? Eating ‘highly rewarding foods that rich in sugar and far together on a regular basis interacts with our brain in a way that makes us eat more overall calories before we feel full, and also drives us to crave more of these foods to give ourselves pleasure. Some people have the ability to consciously resist these brain-motivated behaviors, but most of us do not. So for most people, willpower is not enough to overcome the signals from our brain and we will still end up overeating calories and gaining fat.

7. MYTH: If I eat my fill I will get fatter and fatter.

REALITY SCORE: ZERO. Why? Many studies have found that by just changing the TYPES and QUALITY of food we eat, we will spontaneously REDUCE CALORIE INTAKE and lose weight. And this is true even while allowing people to eat to fullness. Now, this is not something you should use as an excuse to gorge on food while thinking “this can’t make me fat” by some magic principle.

It’s not magic. It works because different types of food have different effects of how hungry or “full” we feel, even at the same level of calories. The reality is that with some types of food, you will have to forcibly restrict your calorie intake before feeling full. But other types of food can fill you up while still allowing you to lose fat. This is important because hunger is one of the major reasons people fail in their weight loss efforts.

8. MYTH: Grazing on food throughout the day will speed up my metabolism and help me to lose weight.

REALITY SCORE: ZERO. Why? Several recent studies have compared people consuming 5-6 small meals throughout the day to people eating the same amount of calories, but in only 3 meals a day.

These studies show that there is no increase in metabolism or fat loss by grazing throughout the day. In addition, there are some studies that show that in overweight people, eating more frequently can actually lead eating more overall food, more fat gain and worse health.

9. MYTH: If I go on a juice cleanse, I will cleanse myself of toxins and reset my metabolism, and be able to eat whatever I want because toxins make people fat.

REALITY SCORE: ZERO. There is actually some evidence that suggests that certain specific toxins can contribute to fat gain. But the vast majority of detox therapies have no proven effect on ridding the body of these toxins.

It’s true that, in general, many people in the Western world consume nutrient-poor processed foods, breathe in smog, overuse medications, ingest foods that contain toxins like pesticide residues or heavy metals, and don’t sleep enough. And it’s true that these factors can potentially lead to higher levels of toxins in the body, a weakened ability to eliminate those toxins, and higher risk for disease.

However, taking some detox pills, doing a colonic every few months, or doing a three-day detox diet isn’t going to do nearly as much for you as optimizing your body’s own ability to eliminate toxins every single day. That means, you should focus less about what 3-day detox program to go on, and more on optimizing your nutrition and lifestyle the other 362 days of the year. How do you do that? Eat an unprocessed whole food diet with minimal to no processed food.

Focus your food choices on plant foods (especially dark colored vegetables and fruits), and choose organic options when possible. (Organically raised plants and livestock are generally lower in pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, etc.) Veggies and fruits contain phytonutrients that can help the body deal minimize and detoxify any incoming chemicals. This combined with ample sleep and optimizing your other lifestyle factors 365 days a year will allow your body not to accumulate toxins in the first place.