4 Harmful Myths that are speeding up the Obesity Epidemic – Part 2
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.
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. If you missed Part 1 of this series, you can check out the first 2 myths that we busted HERE.
Here’s the truth – 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.
Here are the final 2 myths below.
Myth #3 – All Calories are the same
The expression, “A calorie is a calorie,” is one saying that is particularly concerning.
Outside the context of metabolic health, that may be correct, but it is absolutely misunderstood in the context of human nutrition and certainly in the context of what we do with energy in the body. Yet people and so-called experts repeat the same harmful “Calories in, calories out” myth.
By that same logic, you could argue that 2,000 calories of soda pop are treated the same within the body as 2,000 calories of properly balanced macronutrients with a well balanced nutritional plan. One essentially kills the body and makes you fat and sick, while the other sustains life and helps you thrive.
And that saying completely ignores the impact on your body’s systems and hormones. Hormones, like insulin, have a profound effect on what our body does by way of burning calories, storing calories or even efficiently wasting calories.
Because Insulin resistance is such a huge piece of this puzzle, I want to share in a nutshell what insulin resistance is, when you may be dealing with it, and how to overcome it.
Insulin Resistance in a Nutshell
Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to insulin and can’t use glucose from your blood for energy. To make up for it, your pancreas makes more insulin. Over time, your blood sugar levels go up. Then, that blood sugar will store as fat, you will feel tired and hungry – then you will rinse and repeat the “insulin resistance” circle above.
Signs of insulin resistance:
- A waistline over 40 inches in men and 35 inches in women
- Blood pressure readings of 130/80 or higher
- A fasting glucose level over 100 mg/dL
- A fasting triglyceride level over 150 mg/dL
- Fasting insulin greater than 6
- A HDL cholesterol level under 40 mg/dL in men and 50 mg/dL in women
Effective Treatment for Insulin Resistance
Carbohydrates such as simple sugars and grains should be avoided as they stimulate insulin secretion. They should be replaced with higher protein-containing foods and vegetables, as well as good sources of fat (we will discuss more about this below). Other things to consider to add to help treat insulin resistance:
- Adequate vitamin D intake
- Aerobic and resistance training. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been found to be superior to low-intensity cardio. Also, the form of resistance training we utilize at Epic Fitness is a mix of HIIT as well as what we love to call “Metabolic Resistance Training” or MRT.
- Get adequate sleep. We have our clients aim for 7 hours of sleep per night.
By consuming the right blend of proteins and healthy fats and limiting simple carbohydrates, you’ll not only have much more sustainable energy, it will help strengthen your immune system, and even aid in gut health and brain health. Now you can see that your body knows all too well that all calories are not created equal!
Myth #4 – A low fat diet is best for weight loss
If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, there is a good chance that you’ve at least considered a low-fat diet. In 1977, the US Dietary Guidelines were published without significant evidence from randomized controlled trials and testing. These guidelines recommended a significant reduction in dietary fat, and thus began the nationwide mentality to fear fat.
People have been told to not eat fats that are clinically shown to be healthy in favor of refined carbohydrates, and the results have been devastating. Since 1977, the average adult American is nearly 30 pounds heavier; as reported by the Centers for Disease Control.
Many of you that might be my age may have seen this with your parents. I sure did. I was born in 1980, just after these recommendations were made by the US government. I remember being 10 years old, and eating ALL the carbs with my parents – well, because that was the recommendation, right?!
The base of the pyramid was “6-11 servings of Bread, Cereal, Rice and Pasta.” It is no wonder that my parents were gaining weight. I may have been lucky to avoid weight gain because my childhood involved running around outside, exploring and building tree houses, verses today’s children who are obsessed with playing on their cell phones and iPads instead of playing outside. As you can see from the original food pyramid, they clearly had it all wrong and it has been disastrous for our society as a whole.
There is overwhelming evidence of the benefits of including fat in your diet for overall health (and not just sparingly as the pyramid suggested!)
Fats not only help you feel full, they help with brain health, gut health and metabolic health. This doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy carbs, but you need to realize that you still want to get a majority of your diet to come from essential amino acids (from protein), and essential fatty acids.
Focusing on a wide spectrum of healthy fats from animal sources – like eggs, beef, salmon- and plant sources – olive, coconut and avocado will keep you satiated for longer periods of time which will lead to less over-eating (which is what got us into the whole mess in the first place!).
So, the next time you hear anyone tell you that “Your metabolism slows as you age” or that “You can out-exercise that last bad meal” or “All calories are the same” or “You should avoid fats at all costs” please just share this blog with them!
Are you looking for a team of experts that can help guide you towards better health, one day at a time? Check out our “14 Day Epic Kickstart” at Epic Fitness where you will get access to expert training, nutritional advice and support, and the most inclusive environment in the state!