3 Weight-Loss Myths You Should Never Fall For

Posted by Beni Cook
Myth #1:
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Since I started personal training (decades ago) I’ve been told “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” but there’s minimal research backing up this claim. Many studies associate breakfast with a host of benefits including appetite suppression, reduced body weight, improved cognitive function, and better blood sugar control.
So no wonder we’ve been told not to skip breakfast, but here’s what you haven’t been told about these studies: most of the evidence is observational. It suggests there’s a correlation, but it doesn’t prove the cause. In other words, there may be a relationship between people who eat breakfast in the morning and doing well in school, but it doesn’t mean they do well in school because they ate breakfast.

Some studies have accounted for this fact and evaluated cause and effect (not just correlation). In these studies, the results are mixed.
So, in all the controversy over breakfast, here’s the actual truth: Eating breakfast is a good thing! Sometimes! For some people! But not everyone!

Myth #2:
Skipping breakfast is best.

For as long as the pro-breakfast camp has been around, so has the anti-breakfast camp. You may have tried skipping breakfast yourself when dieting as a way to “reduce calories.” You may also have heard about some research suggesting that skipping breakfast can support weight loss and other health goals.
In the mix of research, various benefits have been reported, including:
– increased fat breakdown
– more production of growth hormone
– improved blood glucose control
– improved cardiovascular function
– decreased food intake
So why am I busting this myth? Just like the pro-breakfast argument, no firm “rule” has been proven. Most of the above research has been done on animals, with only a few conclusive human studies.

What’s more, the studies don’t guarantee long-term benefits. They show short-term changes in physiology. But immediate changes like these can often be deceiving. Often the body “corrects” for them later by seeking homeostasis.
That’s why short-term effects from meal timing don’t always translate into long-term changes. So in the end, skipping breakfast is fine – but only if it works for you.

Myth #3:
Eat less at night. OR eat lots at night.

For years, many nutrition experts told people to eat more of their calories and carbs at breakfast and keep calories— particularly carbohydrates — lower at night. Then, all of a sudden, new experts began recommending the opposite, telling us to eat the majority of our calories and carbohydrates at dinner time. This idea is associated with something called carb backloading. So what’s the deal?

Well, I’m going to bust both of these myths right now. Because neither is exactly right. The results from the research are mixed. Some studies found breakfast to be the best time for big meals, and some have found no differences in weight loss between big breakfasts and big dinners, while other studies have found significant benefits from eating more at night.
What can we discern from this contradictory mish-mash of findings? Simple: We’re all unique. There is no one-size-fits-all rule.
If anyone tells you that there’s one perfect time to eat (and for that matter a perfect diet plan) they’re wrong.
When you eat is up to you. Unless you’re an elite athlete and every bite you take is scripted by a coach, you don’t have to let the ‘experts’ tell you when to eat. Follow your evidence. Track your experience. Do what works — measurably — for you. If scrambled eggs and salad for breakfast gets you through the day feeling awesome, then woohoo for you. If a large dinner is more your thing, enjoy drifting off to sleep with the feeling of a full belly. Just like when you exercise, what’s most important is that you make high-quality choices, consistently, whenever it works for you.

If you want to improve your eating habits, rather than worrying about whether or not you should be timing your carb intake or if it’s okay to eat past 8pm, think about these five factors (in order of priority):
1. How much are you eating? (Are you eating until you’re just satisfied, or about to burst at the belly?)
2. How you are eating? (Are you eating slowly and mindfully, or are you distracted and stressed?)
3. Why are you eating? (Are you legitimately hungry, or driven by an emotional or social reason?)
4. What are you eating? (What is your mix of minimally processed proteins, veggies, fruits, healthy starches, and healthy fats?)
5. When are you eating? (How is your current eating schedule working for you?)

As you can see, nutrient timing makes the list, but it’s at the bottom. Timing your nutrients can help, but only if you have the other more important aspects of your eating in order first.
Even then, there are no hard rules. It’s all about asking: how are your eating patterns working for you? Then you can make adjustments that help you feel good, achieve your goals, and generally function better.

So put aside the myths and rules and eat when it works best for you.

Beni Cook
Beni Cook is the Head Personal Trainer and Founder of Beyond Best. Beni is a health and fitness expert who develops individualised exercise programs that will meet your own short and long-term objectives, while providing information, advice and encouragement that will enable you to lead your healthiest life, every day.

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