There is so much bad science and advice out there. In the end, just know that weight loss is a simple numbers game. If you burn more calories than you consume, sure enough, you will lose weight.
That being said, there are plenty of intricacies that make this a little more complicated than it sounds. Some of the biggest myths out there are about calories from different foods, working out, and the rate at which you will lose weight.
Let's take a look at these myths now.
First of all, we need to admit that yes, one calorie is the same amount of energy for your body no matter where it comes from. But the most important thing to know is that your body doesn't entirely self-regulate your appetite based off of energy levels.
Think about it this way. If you are only going to eat 50 calories, how much of different foods can you eat? 50 calories could be just one cookie, a whole serving of vegetables, or a handful of nuts. Even though 50 calories is the same level of energy for your body, which one of those three will leave you the least full?
50 calories of cookies does not feel very filling. In fact, if you ate 50 calories worth of vegetables or nuts, you may quell your appetite. But I've never heard of anyone satisfying their hunger with just one cookie.
Calorie dense foods like cookies are what your body often craves. That's because your body knows it can get a quick influx of energy from a rather small serving of food. Vegetables take time to process, and though you can get the same amount of energy from them, you will have to eat much more. This will leave you much more full, but with the same level of energy.
So yes, if you only eat 1500 calories a day, you will likely lose weight. But there is little chance you could make it through the day on 1500 calories of sugary and fried food. 1500 calories of fresh vegetables and protein, however, will give you a much better chance of staying satisfied throughout the day.
Working out is extremely important. But don't think that exercise alone can do everything for you.
Most experts will tell you that your diet is responsible for somewhere around 80% of your weight efforts. Now let's not throw exercise out the door just yet. Staying active can help boost your metabolism and burn off those extra calories.
But the most important thing is to maintain a consistent food lifestyle. Your average person's body burns about 2,000 calories a day naturally. Your size and level of activity can affect your body's metabolism. This means some people burn more or less than 2,000. You can quickly check online by using your BMI.
But let's assume you're average, and your body burns 2,000 calories a day. If you consistently eat more than this, you will gain weight. If you consistently eat less than 2,000 calories, you will lose weight.
A 30-minute jog on the treadmill will burn somewhere in between 100-300 calories for most people, depending on size and speed. Put that in perspective. If you burn 200 calories a day with exercise, that only reduces your 2,000 calorie goal by 10%. Most of the calories that add up in your daily consumption are from the food you eat.
So while it is possible to eat like a pig and workout like a freak to still lose weight, it is highly unlikely and unsustainable. Your diet is the biggest chunk of your daily caloric calculation, so eating well is the most important thing.
And remember, not all calories are equal, so if you need to eat under 2,000 calories, you really can't afford to eat calorie dense foods that don't help fight hunger and cravings.
This may be one of the most damaging myths in the weight loss industry today. There are many factors in play when it comes to weight loss, and not all of them are linear.
At first, weight loss may feel linear because of the water weight you are losing in the first few days. Here's the thing, weight loss is just as sporadic as weight gain. At first, you are burning the glucose in your muscles. This is called your glycogen storage. This glycogen is very closely tied to water, so when you burn the glycogen, you get rid of this small supply of water.
One week you may lose weight, while you are extremely stagnant the next. You may even find that after consistent effort, there are some weeks where you gain weight. This is entirely normal.
When your body adjusts to your new lifestyle, it begins to store glycogen again. This means you put on some water weight. Your body will store water for more reasons than just your body adjusting as well. If you find stress levels changing in your body, you may store water. If you find your sleep schedule is changing, your body may store water. Even the weather can affect glycogen storage.
All of these different factors will change what you see as linear weight loss. Though the results are not linear, the effort still is.
If you are consistently eating less than your body burns, you will lose weight. It is a guarantee. But if you burn 1 pound of fat (3500 calories), and gain two pounds in water weight, you will think you have gained weight. That doesn't matter as water weight is kind of irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, and you are still burning fat.
So make sure your effort is consistent, and though you won't see linear results on a week to week basis, you will still see regular positive change on a month to month basis. So keep your head up and the vegetables down!