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Top 3 myths in weight loss debunked and 3 tips to make it finally work for you

Top 3 myths in weight loss debunked and 3 tips to make it finally work for you
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uest blogpost by Michael Bachmann, Zurich based nutrition coach

In this article, I'll give you my best tips on how to maximize your fat burning. You will learn which myths about fat burning are spread over and over again and what really helps to lose weight.

Key insights: 

  • The 3 weight loss myths costing you a no drama journey towards your dream body are: fats are bad, carbs are bad, workout in a fasted state is best
  • You most certainly need more of the good fats like Omega-3 and should avoid the bad fats like trans fats. Saying fat is bad is like saying all songs by Modern Talking are bad. Your life is definitely much richer with some..."yo ma hart yo ma soll" once in a while!
  • Carbs are like gasoline for your Hybrid Toyota Prius. If you want to cruise around the city and relax, no need for gasoline. But If you want to setup a new one minute record the gasoline engine will kick in. Fuel up with carbs before and after high intensity if you like. On days without high intensity workouts, avoid carbs if you want to trade in your collection of rings for a six pack
  • Working out in a fasted state has its merits, but if you cannot perform mentally or physiologically during high intensity workouts, have a pre-workout meal please. Nobody likes hangry athletes
  • The 3 tips to lose weight successfully are: Don't follow a diet, follow a nutrition framework, have a process, not a goal mindset, avoid fat traps
  • Understanding when and how much protein, carbs and fats to eat and which foods work best for you gives you a framework for success. It's a bit more work than following a diet but it will change your life. How handy that we have prepared a framework for you
  • The route is the goal mindset... Thank you Zenzey, but what do you mean? Every meal, every avoided sugary snack gets you one step closer to your goal. Celebrate these tiny victories and you will inevitably succeed
  • Fat traps are co-workers asking you to go for burgers for lunch or grandma's house, avoid circumstances where you are most likely to fail. Another good one is when you don't drink alcohol and go to a party. Why are you not drinking? Hen? What's wrong with you?

Without further ado, here are the details:

The 3 myths & 3  tips for fat loss

Maybe you've already tried to change your diet a few times and adapt it to your individual goals: Less weight and/or more muscles. If you're no exception, then you've not been able to maintain your new diet in the long run and have probably fallen back into the old "unhealthy" and not target-oriented eating habits. Sounds familiar? This article is about how you can stay on it in the long run, but still have fun and enjoy your diet. Because starving yourself painfully and unhealthily is not the long-term solution.

See through the 3 biggest weight loss myths

If you want to lose weight effectively but also healthily, you must first become aware of some weight loss myths. This will save you a lot of potential trouble and frustration in the future and will make it much easier for you to achieve your goals.

Myth 1: Fats are bad

If you eat a lot of fats, you'll inevitably become fat. Not quite true. Many people still believe that you can only lose weight if you eat low fat food. There are further and also wiser nourishing forms, which lead to a weight reduction. For example, even if you eat low calorie but high fat food, you can still achieve positive results. The main point of losing weight is that you burn more calories than you consume.

Important: A low fat diet can be unhealthy. Your body needs Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids in a certain ratio. Today, we consume significantly more Omega-6 than Omega-3 fatty acids. This can lead to health imbalances, for example by increasing the inflammation level in the body. It is therefore worthwhile to take in Omega-3 rich fats. These can be found in fish, fish oil/krill oil, algae oil, flaxseed oil and walnuts, among others.

But there are also fats that you should avoid: trans fats. They are proven to be harmful to your health and to make you fat. Trans fats are normally contained in fast food, baked goods, ready meals and snacks. As with everything in life, the dose makes the poison. A little trans fat won't do you any harm, e.g. once a week a portion of fast food is totally ok if the rest of the balance is right.

Myth 2: Carbohydrates are bad and make you fat

A few years ago they said that fats were our biggest enemies and today they say that carbohydrates are. But not all carbohydrates are really "bad". Simply put, it depends on two factors:

  1. Which carbohydrates do you eat? (Type)
  2. At what time do you ingest them? (Timing)

Processed carbohydrates such as chips, fast food burgers, french fries, cookies, etc. are low in nutrients and pure calorie bombs. If you want to lose weight, it also makes sense to eat less carbohydrates in the form of rice, bread or pasta. Replace white flour products better with their wholemeal counterparts, as they are more filling.

While you are reducing these carbohydrates, focus more on foods that have a higher nutrient density (e.g. vegetables and fruits). This does not mean that you have to give up carbohydrates completely or that carbohydrates are generally bad. If you do not overeat on them, they do not harm you. In addition, the individual carbohydrate requirement depends on many factors, including your muscle mass, activity level, genetic tolerance, insulin sensitivity, etc.

Let's boil it down to the essential part: Avoid eating carbohydrate-rich foods in the evening. Studies show that you lose weight more easily if you eat lighter foods in the evening. This is because you give your body the opportunity to regenerate optimally during sleep and get certain metabolic processes going. If you eat too many carbohydrates that are difficult to digest in the evening, your body would be too busy digesting them at night. This does not mean, however, that I always recommend not eating any carbohydrates at all in the evening. It also makes a difference whether you had a hard workout or not, or whether you just sat on your office chair all day.

Myth 3: Don't eat before exercise

Many people still believe they have to exercise on an empty stomach in order to lose weight. And so many start their training on an empty stomach. I also experience this myself with my customers from time to time: every time they come to train on an empty stomach, they don't perform the same. The effect is even stronger when they come on an empty stomach for their morning training. Imagine a Formula 1 driver who has to perform at his best in a race with an empty fuel tank. Usually doesn't really make sense.

What food should you eat before training (and especially before HIT workouts)?

That again depends on the nutrient timing. The basic rule is that the closer you get to training, the faster the nutrients have to be digested in the body. In such cases, easily digestible carbohydrates such as white bread, lye bread, fruits like kiwi, ripe bananas, dates, pineapple plus a portion of protein are suitable. I am a fan of Bündnerfleisch, for example. You can eat this variety 60-90 minutes before training. However, if it is 2 - 3 hours before, longer digestible carbohydrates like an oatmeal with a protein source (fish, meat, eggs, dairy products like Skyr/Chiefs or vegan sources (tofu, tempeh, seitan, kidney beans, lentils, planted chicken etc.) make sense. The reason is that your body should not be unnecessarily busy with digestion during training. Your body should already have gone through this process and be in the sympathetic nervous system (active phase).

3 tips for optimal fat burning

Now that you know the most common mistakes, let's move on to concrete tips. Use these tips and you will find it much easier and faster to lose weight.

Lose weight healthily: Which nutritional form is best suited?

If you think you know all the diets, be sure to soon discover yet another one. And often the latest one contradicts the ones that you've heard of before.

The probably clearest conflict exists between meat eaters and the plant eaters. Vegans and vegetarians often claim that meat causes cancer, makes fat and its production destroys the planet. The opposite side claims, without meat the body gets deficiency symptoms. Humans have the teeth of an omnivore anyway, so they are born to eat meat. Many ask themselves the question: Are vegans and vegetarians healthier and slimmer than meat eaters?

A study suggests exactly that. However the reason for it is not the renouncement of meat. It was stated that vegetarians and vegans are generally more conscious about themselves and their health. They smoke less often, move more and eat significantly more vegetables and fruit. At the same time, they clearly eat less unhealthy food.

But you don't have to give up meat if you want to lose weight. When you consume animal meat, it is important that you pay attention to its high quality for the sake of your health and the environment. The animals should be able to live on pasture and eat grass. Meat from factory farming is loaded with many pollutants, antibiotics etc. and the animals live in agony. Quality meat always has its price, and you are not only doing good for your health, but also for animal welfare. So if you want to eat meat, pay attention to the quality and how the animals are kept, because the fat quality (ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids) in meat is directly related to the species-appropriate life, their treatment and industrial mass production processes.

We could analyze countless other forms of nutrition. Before we do this, however, I would like to give you some nutritional criteria that always apply if you want to lose weight in a healthy way and which you should always keep in mind, no matter which diet you choose:

  • Eat mainly unprocessed food (no convenience foods or additives)
  • Eat seasonal and regional food whenever possible
  • Eat enough fruit and vegetables. I usually recommend the 2:1 ratio of vegetables to fruit
  • Eat sufficient but not excessive amounts of protein (1 palm of protein per meal)
  • Eat healthy fats (for example, nuts, avocado, seeds, fatty fish or high-quality oils)
  • If you consume carbohydrates, eat potatoes, whole rice, bulgur, quinoa, corn)
  • Always make sure that your food is of good quality
  • Drink enough water (if possible also filtered)
  • Take sufficient vitamin D3. Studies show that people who suffer from vitamin D3 deficiency gain weight more easily and become sluggish.

The right mindset to lose weight successfully

Without a "healthy" mindset, you will either lose weight with difficulty or make yourself unnecessarily unhappy during the process.

What should a weight loss mindset look like?

Get a clear idea of exactly where you want to go. How many kilos do you want to lose? Do you want to improve certain blood values? When do you want to have reached your goal? Make sure that you have a goal that motivates you to work for the process of change. The process consists of sufficient physical exercise, good quality sleep and a change in diet. The easiest way to make changes is to relate it to your future vision of yourself and to make sure that your psychological or physical "pain" is big enough for you.

But you don't have to completely change your diet from one day to another. You don't have to give up everything in the future. It often makes sense to only turn the essential screws step by step. I call this "Little Tiny Action Steps" (LTAS).

You can take a big step by limiting your sugar consumption and by avoiding or reducing the consumption of sweet drinks. The majority of the population consumes far too much simple sugar. And this not only makes you fat, but in combination with less exercise is also one of the causes of many modern civilization diseases such as diabetes. Simple sugars hide in nearly all prepared food products. You will probably be shocked if you take a closer look at the list of ingredients of the most common supermarket products. Take the time to look at the products in detail or even better: keep a diary of your sugar consumption per week. You will be amazed in what form, and above all how much of the hidden sugars you swallow. The worst thing about it: we often don't even notice it, because it is artificially added everywhere as a flavor carrier. That's why the motto here is also: If sugar, then consume it from natural foods. Or have you ever seen a Snickers hanging from a tree?

Attention fatteners: Sugary drinks and fruit juices are sugar bombs! Restrict consumption or cut them altogether. The fruit concentrates so often advertised are full of sugar and the mean thing about it: sugary drinks can easily be consumed in excess. In other words: high-calorie drinks are an absolute no-go, because the calorie intake rises far too fast and this without you having eaten anything.

Let's get back to the mindset part. An important one relates to failures: Be good to yourself when you fail! Many people do not manage to eat healthier food in the long term because they keep falling back into their old patterns.

Be aware: Your diet does not have to be perfect. Always follow the guidelines: Progression is always better than perfection. If your nutrition plan is too much for you, you can change it. If you have failed with your intentions, don't beat yourself up. Instead, keep your goals in mind, forgive yourself and try to do better next time. And that's why small steps are so valuable. Once you have successfully mastered one step, you move on to the next. Always start with the easiest step for you.

Because you don't just want to be slimmer in the long run, you also want to be happy. That means that every now and then you should treat yourself to a glass of wine, a pizza or a fruit smoothie. If you suddenly give up all this, you might stick to your new diet for a few weeks, become increasingly unhappy and eventually fall back into old patterns. Basically, it's about you realizing that you're doing something good for yourself. Unfortunately, many people often see "healthy" nutrition as a kind of prison and associate this with restrictions. However, the opposite is true, but you have to work on this perspective first, because like everything in life it is always a matter of attitude. And any change is always only as difficult or easy as we make it ourselves.

Simple "successful performer's" trick: Your environment defines your success

Make sure that you are in an environment that supports and motivates you. This factor is crucial for success. Most people underestimate the factor of their environment when they want to change something. Imagine you are a smoker who wants to quit. How difficult it will be for you to quit smoking when you are constantly with people who smoke all the time or in places where people smoke all the time. Certain people, situations or places make it harder for you to quit smoking.

It is the same with weight loss. Avoid the negative power of your environment and use the positive side instead! Surround yourself more often with people who:

  • have self-awareness and are conscious about how they "treat" themselves
  • pay attention to their diet
  • workout regularly
  • support you mentally in achieving your goals

If you do so, their habits will automatically influence you. You will go to the gym more often (also with them), eat better and be more aware of yourself. The right environment will pull you along. Because your subconscious will automate those situations that you are most confronted with and most worried about. Therefore, pay attention to who you let into your environment or your thoughts. You can imagine your brain like a software that has to be programmed. Everything you write on your hardware (computer) programs your subconscious. Simply said: if you program your life for success, you will only write things on "your" computer that are related to success.

Makes sense?

So pay attention to what you "feed" your hard drive and you will see what potential you can unfold.

I wish you good luck!

Michael

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