4 Harmful Health Myths that are speeding up the Obesity Epidemic- Part 1
By: Ben S. Fogel
There is more questionable advice and so-called “experts” out there in the health and wellness world that want you to subscribe to “their” way of thinking, and that usually fattens their pocketbooks as well.
This very binary “This is bad, this is good” thinking when it comes to your health can be really harmful. There is a great deal of misinformation out there. Some of it is from simple misunderstanding, and some of it is willful deception to push an agenda, but almost all of it has absolutely no basis in science and facts.
We are going to discuss and bust 4 myths that continue to get a lot of attention in the news media and on the internet. The hope is that you can decipher the truth from the lies and make the best decision for your body and your health.
The truth of the matter is this – Currently almost 40% of ALL Americans are considered to be overweight or obese. This number is set to SKYROCKET to 60% of ALL Americans by 2030 (barely 8 years away!). I feel so strongly that so much of this has to do with all of the myths that are floating around in the health and fitness industry. It is our job as professionals to give you the truth, so that is what we will be doing below.
We will discuss the first 2 myths in part one of this series, and the second two myths will be shared in part two.
Myth #1 – “My Metabolism is slowing down as I age”
Many people believe that as we age, our metabolism (the rate at which we utilize calories for energy) decreases. Contrary to popular belief, our metabolic rate doesn’t change as we age. Instead, metabolism is almost always coupled to our body weight. Interestingly, when someone starts to gain weight, their metabolic rate will actually go up. And if they lose weight, their metabolic rate will go down.
Instead of metabolism slowing down, far more people “break” their metabolism by following poor advice, or doing short-term “quick fix” diets and exercise routines.
There’s a popular weight loss reality show where people starve themselves and exercise like crazy to lose an incredible amount of weight in a relatively short period of time, you have probably heard about it or seen it. That can certainly work in the short-term, but there’s a reason you never see reunion shows on these weight loss programs – they just don’t work long-term.
As these people inevitably get back in the real world, they start gaining weight again and their metabolism doesn’t match it. Their metabolism just doesn’t come back up with the incredible yo-yo in body weight. What happens, you may ask? They’ve effectively broken their metabolic rate. How do you “break” your metabolic rate? Here is a toothpaste analogy to help visualize the concept.
The Toothpaste Analogy
Our bodies are actually highly sophisticated “machines”. When fuel (calories from food) is scarce it becomes more efficient at utilizing the energy it does have.
Think of it this way – When you open a new tube of toothpaste you use it without any thought, right? You have enough. It’s easy to get out and you go about brushing your teeth effortlessly. But when you get down and low in the tube you have to start to really squeeze it out and you’ll make do with less toothpaste for each brushing. You’re acclimating to the resources you have to get the job done. Our bodies do the same thing with energy.
(This is what “acclimating to our resources” looks like!)
Our bodies are resilient and when energy intake is low it will fight to keep us alive by slowing our metabolism (burning less calories) and ‘holding’ onto energy on our bodies in the form of energy storage (which can lead to weight gain). This is similar to that toothpaste analogy, you use less to do the same amount of work when resources are scarce and want to keep as much toothpaste (energy for your body) in the tube as possible.
The opposite is also true when you start to come off a diet. Your body and metabolism can’t adjust to the big swings in the amount of activity, as well as food intake that you are changing in such a short period of time.
The truth is, the fancy restrictive “diets” and excessive exercise routines that you may have subscribed to have “slowed down” your metabolism – don’t blame this one on your age.
Myth #2 – Exercise can make up for a poor diet
You may be tempted to buy-in to the idea that a good workout can compensate for a bad diet. That’s simply not the case. What we like to say at Epic Fitness is: You can’t outtrain or outrun a poor diet.
To avoid any confusion, at Epic FItness we recommend that everyone should do some form of exercise 5-6 times a week. This recommendation is less for weight loss than it is for a host of other health benefits including cardiovascular and brain health, as well as your ability to maintain balance as you age, and especially for hormones and proper nutrient absorption. “Some form of exercise” could literally be to go for a walk, a hike, a bike ride – something that gets the body moving and grooving.
The real “secret” here though is this:
The best kind of exercise is the kind you’ll actually do on a regular basis.
But that doesn’t mean you can outrun, or out-exercise a bad diet—that’s a particularly dangerous myth. Even the heaviest workouts will only burn a few hundred calories, while eating the wrong kinds of food are not only resistant to being “burned”, they actively encourage your body to store body fat.
If you want to “burn” more calories, you can actually do it more effectively through a proper diet. Your diet likely got you into the shape you’re in, but it also can help get you into much better shape now and in the future.
Wondering what the final two myths are? We will share them in part two very soon. *HINT* It will all have to do with nutrition and a proper diet leading you towards better overall health outcomes. If that sounds desirable to you, stay tuned!!
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