Are you a victim to any of these false beliefs about fat loss? As a personal trainer in London, part of my job is to educate clients about nutrition and exercise, so they understand why I advise them to eat and exercise a certain way.
1. “It’s OK to eat junk food as part of a balanced diet”
This is a lie put about by the food industry (surprise surprise) to get you to eat more of their junk. They want you to believe that ‘balanced diet’ means a balance between healthy food and junk food. This is simply not true!
This is a balanced diet: a balance between healthy sources of the main food groups: complex carbs, protein, good fats, fruit and vegetables. When I say ‘healthy sources’ I mean real food, unprocessed, unadulterated, as close to its natural state as possible. For example: chicken breasts (not takeaway fried chicken), sirloin steak (not sausages or meat pies), sweet potatoes (not oven chips), an orange (not orange juice).
If you eat takeaways, ready meals, sweets and fizzy drinks alongside healthy food, your chances of losing excess body-fat are virtually nil.
2. “Reduced Fat versions of processed foods are healthy alternatives”
This is one of the most cunning and lucrative tricks the food industry has inflicted on the consumer in decades. Avoid any processed food which is labelled ‘half fat’ or ‘low fat’ – it is likely to have high levels of sugar and/or salt, and a range of additives too.
Even ‘zero sugar’ fizzy drinks are suspect, because they contain artificial sweeteners which have toxic effects on the body, interfere with your metabolism and disrupt your hormone levels.
3. “Eat whatever you want, as long as your exercise levels are high enough”
The myth is that you can burn off all the excess calories through exercise. But the truth is that you can’t out-train a poor diet. The food industry points to the ‘calories in, calories out’ equation, and argues that the obesity epidemic is purely a result of us not exercising enough. In order to burn off all the excess calories of a high-junk diet, you would be exercising for many hours every day, which is totally impractical, and would lead to joint problems and depleted immune system.
In addition, a diet high in junk food and ready-meals won’t give you the nutrients to fuel an intense workout, and won’t give your body the quality of protein (and micro-nutrients ie vitamins and minerals) required to repair and grow muscle after exercise.
If you feel tired all the time, and don’t have the energy to exercise, it’s probably because your diet is poor in nutrients.
4. “All fat in food is bad for you”
If you’re obsessed about cutting fat out of your diet, you’re seriously damaging your health, and probably sabotaging your weight-loss efforts too.
There are some bad fats to avoid completely: hydrogenated fats (also called trans fats) found in many processed foods. These are found in some confectionery, cakes, pastries, meat pies, and a range of junk foods.
Saturated fat is OK in small amounts (it’s found in all meat and dairy and even forms a proportion of healthy fats like olive oil) but in excess it will lead to excess body fat. However, a moderate amount of fat is needed in your diet for a range of functions, such as the storage of fat-soluble vitamins, and repair of body tissue.
The ‘good fats’ are the essential fats which your body needs for optimum health: monounsaturated fats, and polyunsaturated fats (mainly omega 3 and omega 6). These fats are found in nuts, seeds, avocados, oily fish, and olive oil, and are an essential part of your diet.
The main cause of excess body fat is not dietary fat but processed sugar. The sugars in ready meals, all types of junk food, sugary breakfast cereals, fizzy drinks and alcohol are the real culprits in our obesity epidemic. But the food industry doesn’t want you to know that, and are in denial about it, just as the cigarette industry used to deny any health risks associated with smoking.
Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London with 12 years experience.