These 8 fat loss myths are holding you hostage in your weight loss journey!
Frequently, I am asked about these weight loss myths from women over 35 in my nutrition practice.
Does fasting work for weight loss? Does the Galveston diet for menopausal weight loss work?
Do you really need to starve yourself to lose weight? Should you eat 1200 calories to lose weight?
Does eating too little food cause you to get fat?
What foods are bad for weight loss, poisonous foods for weight loss? What foods are good for weight loss?
Do you need to cut sugar to lose weight? What is the best strategy is for losing weight?
How much does metabolism slow as you age and what should you do about?
Today I am sharing the truth about these 8 common myths about fat loss and what the science really says!
This episode of the Dish On Ditching Diets is packed full of information for you that will help you cut through the noise of weight loss and focus on the big rocks that will make a difference in your journey!
In this Dish On Ditching Diets Podcast Episode, You Will Hear:
- The 8 Fat Loss Myths Holding You Hostage
- A Listener Question On Constipation
- Why The Galveston Diet Contains Mis-Leading Citations & Is Not Special For Menopause
- What Does Carb Free Really Mean
- Why Fasting Is Not Magical For Weight Loss
- Does Eating Too Little Cause Weight Gain
- What Foods Are Bad and Poisonous
- Why Cutting Sugar Isn't A Weight Loss Strategy and Unnecessary
- How Much Does Metabolism Slow As You Age
Related Dish On Ditching Diets Podcast Episodes
- The Dangers Of Oatmeal
- The Most Dangerous Diet (Optavia)
- 1200 Calories Is The Fastest Way To Kill Hormones
- Does Intermittent Fasting Work For Weight Loss
- How Weight Loss Works
- Why You're Hungry On Weight Watchers
8 Fat Loss Myths Podcast Episode Transcript
Hello friends! Today I want to talk to you about 8 fat loss myths. I posted a reel on Instagram recently about common fat loss myths (if you’re not following me there – I am Skinny Fitalicious so come give me a follow).
After I posted this reel, I asked my followers to tell me some other things they weren’t sure of whether they were myths so I could debunk them. So, today I’m going to share with you these myths.
The good news is many of you are likely way overcomplicating what you need to do to get healthier, feel better, have better energy, be fitter and lose body fat.
I see this so frequently with clients. It’s crazy how much nonsense is out there. My mission is really to simplify health and weight loss for women over 35.
Before we get to the meat and potatoes of today’s podcast – I love saying that. I received a listener question. If you ever have a listener question – you can email me one email@example.com or you can send it to me via Facebook or Instagram if you follow me there.
This message is from Lisa. Here’s what it said.
I have really appreciated your positively oriented advice and enjoy listening to your podcast.
I am struggling with breakfast. When I try to eat something high protein like eggs, I get constipated and don't feel great. My usual breakfast is whole grains (no sugar muesli), a variety of nuts and fresh berries with 2% milk. Would you think this has enough protein to follow your advice? Should I do something differently?
Thank you so much - Lisa
I receive these kinds of messages that are very specified like this a lot from women over 35 and the thing is unless you are a client of mine, I cannot give you specific advice. I have no idea what your medical history is, what medications you take, what your diet history is and most importantly, I have no idea what the rest of your nutrition and lifestyle looks like outside of breakfast.
Unfortunately, Lisa, I cannot give you specific direction. I can say constipation can be lack of adequate hydration. It could also be inadequate fiber in your diet.
Those would be the first two things to look at, but honestly there could be many other reasons why this is going on. You could even have a medical condition like IBS or low stomach acid.
So, I cannot ethically give someone specific advice unless they are working with me. Any ethical health care professional will tell you the same. Sometimes I have women over 35 who I speak to in my free consultations asking me things like how much protein they should eat or how many calories they should eat.
Number one that is not the purpose for those calls (the purpose is to give you some insight into what’s keeping you stuck and talking to you about how I can help you with coaching if you are someone I think I can help) and number two I do not know you and have not done a clinical review with you to be able to answer those questions. I think many of us have the desire for a quick answer or solution, but it doesn’t work that way. It really is a process you work through step by step.
Hopefully, that gives you some perspective! Okay… now for the meat and potatoes of today’s podcast. The 8 fat loss myths.
Myth number one is you need to starve to lose weight. It is so common for women to think this. Extreme hunger in a deficit is actually not normal. If you have extreme hunger, your calories are too low or something else is off.
I have a podcast called why you’re hungry on weight watchers and it’s one of my most popular episodes. It’s episode 29. I recommend you listen to this episode.
The bottom line is if you are starving while trying to lose weight, you are going to be very inconsistent with your calorie deficit and therefore, your results will be inconsistent because no one has the willpower to starve themselves.
I lost 80 pounds in 2009 and I never starved myself. I honestly believe a big hurdle women have to losing weight permanently is this belief that they need to starve themselves, but it simply isn’t true.
A lot of women don’t know how to properly fuel their body and how to eat enough nutrient dense food along with less nutrient dense food to reach their goals and that’s the real thing you need to work on.
Often, this is why I work with clients first on adequately fueling their food before even attempting a calorie deficit. Because if you want to do this sustainably you have to learn that BEFORE you can lose weight.
Myth number two. I have to fast to lose weight. Fasting is not required, and it is not magical. It’s one way you can create a calorie deficit.
I have a podcast episode called How Weight Loss Works episode 85 where I explain this related to several diets and fasting is one of them. I also have an intermittent fasting for weight loss episode where I explain fasting. It is episode 20.
Fasting only works if you are in calorie deficit. I’ve had multiple women come to me over the years telling me they’ve tried fasting and lost zero weight.
Right, because they reduce their eating window but are still eating the same number of calories overall. It always comes back to a calorie deficit.
For some individuals, fasting can help them get into a calorie deficit, but the bottom line is you do not need to fast to lose weight and fasting is not magical.
Now I have seen a lot of older menopausal women being marketed this myth that they must fast to lose weight in menopause. You may have heard of the Galveston diet. An OBGYN wrote a book about what helped her lose weight during her menopause transition.
It was the way she figured out how to take weight off and the name of the diet is the name of the city in Texas where she’s from. The book is much like many other where it makes claims that calories in-calories out don’t work or its outdated and that somehow fasting is doing something magical besides cutting calories.
The diet itself has 3 factors. The first is a specific macronutrient ratio. The book states that starting in one’s 30’s there is this precise ratio of fat to carbs to protein that allows one to burn fat as fuel.
The second premise of the diet is intermittent fasting. She generally recommends a 16:8 window.
The third factor of the diet is anti-inflammatory nutrition which of course she rolls the fact that you’ll need to reduce your added sugar, processed carbs, additives, and preservatives and increase whole foods.
She also has a list of approved fruits and vegetables and says there are certain ones that are better for you than others in menopause.
What really bothers me about diets like this one is that it’s presented as if they found something new. The reason it works is because we are establishing the right number of calories and nutrients for a person’s goals.
Is it this the only diet that will help women lose weight in menopause?
No, absolutely not, and I find with these books that’s not highlighted to the public. I get that it’s not great marketing to say that what you’re promoting isn’t that novel, but so often these things are presented to women especially in menopause as if this is something revolutionary and groundbreaking.
When it’s presented as some new thing, it’s inaccurate to what the science says and it’s confusing for people.
So, in this book she focuses a lot on fasting and if fasting helps you get into a calorie deficit, great. But what I wish people would admit is that fasting is not working in some magical way. It’s creating a calorie deficit is all.
Now when I look at the citations used in this book, they argue my point; not theirs. The problem with these mainstream diet books is there’s a lot of references in them, but people aren’t experts in these topics or reading studies, they just see the citations and think oh, wow this is a well referenced book.
But when I take them and look through them, the references don’t provide support for the specific claim.
For example, in chapter 10, it talks about applying the Galveston diet in the long-term and in the section titled continue intermittent fasting it talks about it as an effective alternative to counting calories and it cites a study by Steger which is linked in the show notes for you.
This study gives it away in the title: intermittent and continuous energy restriction results in similar weight loss and body composition changes in a 6-month randomized pilot study.
So right here the study she is citing to suggest we should continue fasting is saying that fasting is notdifferent from cutting calories and yet it’s in the section of her book where she talks about fasting is better than cutting calories. My belief is that’s deceptive.
I also think it’s interesting she uses that reference because back in chapter two she references the fact that calories-in calories-out is an outdated model, but again this paper validates that cutting calories is an effective way to lose weight. So, she contradicts herself.
I will also tell you there is not one reference in the book that her macronutrient percentages are necessary and optimal for weight loss. The body has a wide strike zone for what macronutrients it can thrive on.
People spend so much time worrying about having their carbs too high or fat a few percentages too high. They try to micromanage these things and it doesn’t matter.
Additionally, there is not one single reference in this book that supports her claim that the approved fruits and vegetables are necessary for weight loss or are effective for managing menopausal symptoms.
So again, why would you get results on a diet like this? Because she creates a calorie deficit through whole foods and protein and cutting calories overall. The specifics around what time to eat and whether it’s this whole food or that is irrelevant.
So that’s fasting.
Myth number three is a 1200 calorie diet is best. I have a podcast episode called 1200 calories are the fastest way to kill hormones. It’s episode 11 where I’ve talked about this.
The problem is this 1200 calorie number has been thrown around and everyone has different calorie requirements. It’s just not appropriate for everyone and eating too few calories can have serious consequences.
Also, if you start your fat loss too low in calories you are going to get to a place where you back yourself into a corner because once your body adapts to 1200 calories, where are you going to go? 1,000 calories? 800 calories?
It’s just not feasible and it’s a recipe for thyroid downregulating, poor energy, binging and weight gain because of how our bodies adapt. Bottom line is the goal is to always eat as much as possible and still lose fat.
Myth number four is there are good and bad foods and poisonous foods. This couldn’t be further from the truth and here’s why. The devil is always in the dose.
A lot of individuals you see on social media are standing in a grocery store telling you how bad a certain food or ingredient is, but they fail to convey to you that the devil is in how much of that you are consuming and of course what is your family history and conditions may be.
If you are eating what we call all ultra-processed foods most of the time, then there is a problem. Ultra-processed foods are defined as foods with high amount of sugar, oil, salt and fat added to them – like fast food, packaged sweets, soda, chocolate.
If you generally eat nutrient dense foods 70-80% and you have some of these ultra-processed foods sometimes (I call these sometimes foods) then it’s not generally an issue. But if this is what you eat the majority of the time, this can become problematic from a health and weight standpoint.
In terms of weight loss, the devil is always in the calories. You can always eat a lot more volume of food when you eat more whole foods, but you can fit in sometimes foods into your calories and it will not prevent you from losing body fat.
There’s been multiple studies done on this. One in particular where a man ate twinkies the entire time in his calorie deficit and lost weight and his cholesterol even went down.
All because he lost body fat from being a calorie deficit. I’ll link a laymen’s overview of the study in the show notes for you to checkout.
Now I don’t recommend you eat twinkies all day, but the point is when it comes to fat loss specifically, the calories ultimately drive weight loss.
The key is finding foods that satisfy you and keep you as full as possible so you can stay consistent to see body fat loss and keep the weight off long-term because that’s always the real problem.
People can lose weight but keeping it off is another story because they fail to change their lifestyle. They think they can do something for a period of time and go back to how they were eating previously.
The other thing I want to mention is that the more you view foods as good and bad, the more likely you are to constantly be dieting and restricting foods.
There is good research that shows people who view weight loss as needing to only eat foods with nutritional value, cause people for lack of better words, to lose their minds and fall off the wagon. There’s a lot of studies on this, but I’ve got two linked in the show notes.
One thing I tell clients is to get comfortable falling off the wagon vs. abandoning the wagon all together. I say this because people’s expectations about what it takes to be healthy isn’t aligned with reality.
The occasional treat, desert or less nutrient dense meal is not what stops progress. It’s when you go into the guilt cycle, follow by behavior of complete restriction or no regard for your health whatsoever that things fall apart.
Great health and weight loss that lasts is accomplished by being “good enough” and eliminating dichotomous thinking around food.
Myth number five is metabolism slows as you age. This is a myth. I’ve spoken about this on here before. There was a large study that came out in 2021 that revealed metabolism does not slow as we age.
There is a very minimal slow down 60 that’s less than 1%. What was revealed in the study was that as humans age they sit more and lose muscle, yet individuals are eating the same way or even eating more calories because of the food environment we live in today.
So, if you’re eating the same or more and your movement has decreased, and your muscle has decreased then yes, it’s the perfect recipe for weight gain as you age.
What’s really going on is that your lifestyle has changed. You are no longer on your feet chasing small children, lifting them up and carrying them around.
Maybe you aren’t working a 12-hour shift anymore as a nurse, in a manufacturing facility or waiting tables like you did in your 20’s. Maybe you are retired and just not as active going to your job every day.
Some way, somehow your lifestyle has changed and the amount of just basic movement you do in a day has decreased which has contributed to a gradual weight gain.
This is the most overlooked thing people don’t see impacting their weight. So now you are eating the same way or eating more food, drinking more alcohol but your lifestyle has changed which is a recipe for weight gain.
Do an honest evaluation of your lifestyle over the last few decades and ask yourself honestly what has changed because metabolism is not the problem.
It’s very likely you are not expending as many calories day to day as you used to. This is a very common thing that happens as people age. They’re just not aware of it.
And no, your metabolism isn’t broken. A broken metabolism means you would be dead.
Myth number six is you gain weight if you eat too little. Listen, people die from starvation. No one starves themselves and gains weight.
Now, what can happen is metabolism can adapt like when you’ve been dieting too much. Putting too much stress on the metabolism by eating very little.
The metabolism has an adaptive mechanism to protect us from famine, so thyroid function downregulates, immunity downregulates, sex drive and sex hormones downregulate, brain function goes down, digestion slows.
Those are all consequences of chronically dieting and eating too little. Your metabolism adapts and slows down to try to keep you alive. This is why we don’t diet and cut calories all the time. The body perceives famine and begins to work against you.
What happens in these instances, and I spoke about this in podcast episode 83 when I talked about the dangers of the Optavia diet and how your metabolism adapts to you eating 1,000 calories (as an example) and then when you begin to slightly eat above that 1,000 calories you begin to store body fat.
You’ve trained your body to adapt to 1,000 calories so for people who get into these scenarios they need to begin eating more food to remove the stress off the metabolism before they can ever think about losing weight.
The biggest barrier for these individuals is their mindset and fear of gaining weight. But going through this process is necessary if you do want to lose more body fat. Honestly, this is why we always eat as much as we can and lose body fat.
Myth number seven. Cutting sugar helps you lose weight. I honestly can’t believe we’re still doing this thing with sugar. Eliminating sugar is not a weight loss strategy and it’s also not necessary.
Way too many women tell me their gameplan for losing weight is cutting sugar. I’ll talk to women in my free weight loss consultations, and they’ll say I’ve been trying to eliminate sugar. That’s not a weight loss strategy! I
t’s also not necessary and it also might be hurting you more than helping you.
Eliminating sugar is not a strategy. You can eliminate sugar all you want and you can end up under covered, having low energy, having poor sleep, end up binging later because you’re depriving yourself so much.
Sugar in an of itself is just energy. Now is it easier to overconsume high sugar foods, well it depends. If they are high sugar foods void of nutrients like fiber that are ultra-processed then yes, it can be easier to overconsume those foods.
However, fruit has sugar. Potatoes have sugar. Yogurt has sugar. Peanut butter has sugar. Oats have sugar. Rice has sugar. There are plenty of high quality foods that have sugar and even still sugar in and of itself is not bad. It’s all about balance.
Trying to eliminate sugar is not a strategy and number two it’s not necessary and number three it can actually cause more harm with your eating than good.
Do I think you should be trying to eat mostly whole foods and reducing the amount of ultra-processed foods? Of course! But now we’re talking about a different thing. We’re talking about improving the composition and quality of your foods.
It’s more important to say I’m trying to eat more whole foods versus saying I’m trying to eliminate sugar. That becomes obsessive, it becomes restrictive. It does not help.
It’s not a strategy. What people do is they try to ADD more fruits, veggies, and protein and as a by-product they eat less junk. It shocks me people still think this way.
When I ask people how that’s working for them, they say it’s ok for a couple days and then the candy calls me, or it goes okay for a few days and then I overeat the cookies. I just need more willpower. No, you need more common sense.
How do you not connect the dots that the restrictiveness of trying to eliminate sugar is what’s causing the binge and the lack of willpower. You are overly exerted willpower for no reason. Eliminating sugar is not necessary and it’s not a strategy.
Myth number eight is you need to eat carbs naked. You know what my response is to this? Does this mean you can only eat carbs with clothes on?
I honestly don’t know where people come up with this nonsense. Podcast episode 93 I talk about the dangers of oatmeal, and I do not say oatmeal is bad for you. I actually talk about insulin spikes and how this is not something you need to worry about unless you are diabetic.
The science is clear. High carbs diets work for weight loss and low carb diets work for weight loss. Why? Because as long as you are in a calorie deficit, you will lose weight. I cite a study about this in my free hormonal weight loss class which is linked in the show notes.
I have had clients who’ve told me they have worked with other nutritionists who have told them to never eat carbs naked and now they are scared of eating a apple on its own.
It’s insanity and it’s doing more harm than good. I know these individuals mean well, but the rigidity of this messaging is doing more damage to people’s relationship with food than helping them.
When I speak to a client, I simply say make sure you’re getting your daily protein and fiber the best you can. That way you will be less likely to overconsume ultra-processed carbs high in calories.
Here’s what’s terrible about messaging something like this to the public. When you hear someone say you can’t eat your carbs naked, you immediately think in your mind. That’s why I can’t lose weight.
It’s not that I’m eating too many calories, it’s not that I’m deficit in protein and fiber, it’s not that my step count is too low, it’s not that my muscle mass has decreased. Oh no, it’s none of those things. It must be because I’m eating my carbs naked.
We attach ourselves to this story because it sounds new and groundbreaking. It’s not as exciting as the boring stuff we hear all the time. It’s a distraction is all it is in my mind from the boring, basic stuff that works.
As a side note, I had a woman on Facebook ask me about my peanut butter banana muffin recipe recently. She wanted to substitute the banana for sour cream because she told me she was on a carb free diet.
Now, where did this carb free nonsense come from? All foods have carbs in them unless they are whole sources of protein.
Foods like shrimp, chicken, steak, cod, salmon, eggs, bacon, pork chops, turkey. These are whole sources of protein that have zero carbs. All other foods contain carbs. Peanut butter has 7 grams of carbs per serving.
Sour cream (the food she wanted to substitute for the banana) has 7 grams of carbs for 1 cup. Nuts have carbs, beans have carbs, yogurt and cheese contain carbs. Every food contains some amount of carbs.
There is no such thing as being on a carb free diet unless you are on a carnivore diet. Even keto isn’t carb free.
A banana has 27 grams of carbs, and we are scared of eating 27 grams of food that is nutrient dense? Guys, I promise you bananas are not why people are overweight. It’s not the bananas.
Okay… I think that was enough fun for today. Am I right? Ladies, if you have more myths or aren’t sure about something, send me a note. I’m always shocked by what people tell me so apparently, I’m looking to be more shocked.
Haha… just kidding. I actually want to help you cut through the nonsense so you can stop getting distracted and confused. That’s always my mission for you.
Anyways, that’s all we got today. I hope this was helpful and I’ll chat with you soon!