When it comes to diet and fitness, the deck seems stacked against your chances to win. Progress towards a healthier you requires struggle. Accepting that will help you feel better about your New Year’s resolution, even if you don’t lose weight in January!
The good news is even if that happens, you will still have 11 months left in the year! And there are many strategies available to help you actually achieve your weight loss or fitness goals.
First, let’s dispel some common myths about diets and popular weight loss programs:
Low Carb/High Fat
Myth: Eating fat makes you fat.
Truth: Fat is actually very satiating. In fact, increasing your dietary fats will help keep you full for longer periods of time. Choosing the right fat sources is key. Selecting saturated animal fats over vegetable fats may be part of the answer.
Myth: Being in ketosis is dangerous.
Truth: Nutritional ketosis is perfectly safe for most individuals. Not to be confused with ketoacidosis, a condition where both blood sugar and ketones are out of control due to lack of insulin, dietary ketosis is a fasted state most of us achieve every night after 12 to 14 hours of not eating. The ketogenic diet consists of increased healthy dietary fat sources, moderate amounts of protein, and very low carbs, usually consisting of green, leafy vegetables.
Slow Carb Diet
Myth: We get enough protein in our normal diet.
Truth: This diet is the brainchild of Tim Ferriss, and is discussed in his book The 4-Hour Body. He outlines a simple formula that largely involves cutting out white foods (breads, pasta, sugar, rice) in favor of carbs that take longer for your body to process. The diet also includes eating more protein from bean sources. Most people don’t consume enough protein. Having another helping of beans can often give you the extra protein your body needs while providing a good, healthy fiber.
As an added bonus, you get a cheat meal once a week. On your “Faturday”, you can eat all the things that you crave throughout the week. Not only is it effective in resetting your metabolism, it allows you be less strict with yourself.
Myth: Vegan/vegetarian diets are more protective of heart health.
Truth: Vegetables are good for you, and have many healthy benefits. However, cheese pizza with tomato sauce does not equal vegetarian eating. Even when done right, vegetarian diets often lack vitamins that are critical to our health (B-12 in particular). Studies show that when compared to other diet programs (Mediterranean, etc.), the incidence of heart disease was equally low among all groups. The take-home message is that you’ll be healthier when you follow a given diet.
Standard American Diet
Myth: The federal government has created food guidelines that cover everyone equally.
Truth: The Standard American Diet (SAD) lacks evidence to support it being a healthy way of eating. This is only made more evident by the epidemic of obesity in our culture, including our children. Many of the young men and women who want to enter the military are too overweight to pass physical fitness tests.
Losing weight begins in the kitchen. Regardless of the diet you choose, you have to keep track of the calories you’re eating, as your calories will drive your ability to lose weight. You can’t immediately drop your calories to starvation levels either, because your body will rebel and you’ll fail your diet. Small, incremental changes on a weekly basis are easy for your body to tolerate, and more importantly, making one change at a time is easy to follow for the average individual. Your first goal should be to increase your metabolism, but that happens best when combining one of the above dietary strategies with some exercise. Working with a coach to establish your metabolic levels and create a game plan to follow is likely key.
Cardio for Weight Loss
Myth: I can only lose weight by doing 60 minutes of steady-state cardio every day.
Truth: People give up on going to the gym after not seeing the scale move after doing cardio like this for a couple of weeks. The problem is that the initial benefits your body may have felt were lost shortly after you adapted to your training (often within a week or two). If you must do cardio on a treadmill/elliptical/etc., choose one of the programs that focus on high intensity interval training (HIIT) for only 20 minutes. Intervals of elevating your heart rate followed by rest periods are more practical for boosting your cardio performance, and you’ll save 200 minutes per week if you do this five days per week
Weight Lifting for Weight Loss
Myth: I’ll look like Arnold if I weight train!
Truth: It will take a very long time of lifting weights to look like Arnold (men or women), and you likely don’t have the genetic gifts to get that big. Women who work with weights tend to get more toned, improving their curves. For more evidence, just look at the women who consistently participate in Crossfit.
We can all benefit from building muscle. Muscle is the powerhouse of our metabolism, and adding muscle not only helps us lose weight, but helps us stay healthy as we get older. One consistent measure of reduced mortality in the elderly is grip strength. The stronger your grip, the longer you tend to live. Muscle mass is harder to build as we get over the age of 35. Maintaining your muscle mass as you get older is critical to your overall health and well-being. If you follow the above advice about cutting back on your cardio, you’ll have all that extra time to lift weights.
Myth: I’m going to build muscle, which will burn my fat off.
Truth: Women who want to improve their body composition generally focus on cardio and dietary changes for losing weight. For men go right to the bench press and then pour on the protein powders! Building muscle is definitely going to help us burn off our belly fat, but it’s hard to build muscle if we have any significant amount of body fat. The late, great Charles Poliquin said, “If you can’t see your linea alba (abs) then you don’t deserve carbs!” That’s because your body fat is producing estrogen. If that wasn’t bad enough, testosterone converts into estrogen for a number of reasons! Focus on fat loss first. Keep lifting weights, but many probably don’t need the protein powders to the degree they’re using them.
Sauna for Weight Loss
Myth: Those five minutes in the sauna had me sweat out a lot of fat.
Truth: Saunas have many health benefits, but the pound of weight you think you lost in the sauna is likely water, and you probably didn’t restore the minerals you lost after you did your five 5-minute session. Sauna benefits really come into play when you spend 30 to 40 minutes (split into multiple sessions to not overheat), 3 to 4 times per week. This regimen has shown 30 to 40 percent improvement in all-cause mortality in cultures where sauna use is a cultural norm. Chat with your fellow sauna bathers, as it will make the time go by faster with less pain. Follow your sessions up with time to cool down (cold showers or just sitting and relaxing at room temperature).
Supplements and Protein Powders
Myth: I have a very small window to get my protein in, otherwise all my gains are lost.
Truth: Unless you’re a professional athlete training for the Olympics, NFL, NBA, etc. and doing two or more workouts a day, this myth doesn’t apply to you. As long as you’re eating the proper amount of food (calories and macro nutrients) you can eat at your normal times. The small window of re-feeding that is so often referenced applies more athletes who are training a lot.
Chiropractic care can help to support diet and fitness goals for many individuals. By making sure that you are properly aligned, you improve the benefits that you can gain from following a particular diet or fitness plan.
For example, you may notice when you are weight training that one side of your body isn’t as strong or flexible as the other. This may stem from body asymmetry caused by a neurostructural shift in your spine. A small shift of 1mm in your neck may lead to a contraction of muscles on one side, causing one leg to be shorter than the other by a half-inch or more. In the gym, these small issues can cause bad form or uneven distribution of forces, leading to unintended injury which sets back your progress weeks to months.
Getting your spine checked to make sure you’re supporting your body weight (or any other weight you put on the bar) is just another smart strategy to achieve your goals for 2020.
About Keystone Chiropractic
As an engineer, Dr. Schurger looks at the whole body as a system to determine what is best for each patient. Custom spinal imaging is performed for each patient in order to create a custom correction. Dr. Schurger has transformed himself through the ketogenic diet and offers nutritional advice to help patients improve their overall health (weight loss being a side effect). His practice, Keystone Chiropractic is at 450 S. Durkin Drive, Ste. B, Springfield. Call 217-698-7900 to setup a complementary consultation to see if he can help you!
Sources available upon request