Five Things You’re Getting Wrong About Weight and Weight Loss

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If I’m thin then I’m healthy, right? Wrong. There are several misconceptions people have about weight, losing it and what’s healthy. Here’s the low-down on some myths we’re better off busting.

Kids have to lose weight to shed obesity: As children grow, they put on weight, but how much is normal, and how much is excessive and potentially a hazard to their health? In the latest study, published in the journal Lancet, researchers from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health developed a mathematical model to differentiate between healthy weight gain and the extra pounds that contribute to obesity. The model takes advantage of more accurate assessments of how many calories heavier children take in, as well as how quickly and efficiently they burn off those calories, and the ratio of fat to muscle in their bodies. The resulting model shows some kids can outgrow their obesity around puberty even if they don’t lose weight. That’s because obesity is a measure of not just weight but the ratio of height to weight known as the body mass index (BMI), and as children grow, they transform fat into muscle, which can weigh as much, if not more than fat tissue. So kids with a high BMI that might suggest obesity may not actually be overweight.

Still, the researchers say that teaching children about portion control and balancing what they eat with  physical activity to burn off excess calories are important lessons to learn early.

(MORE: 6 Weight Loss Tips Straight from the Nation’s Premier Spas)

You can’t be fat and still be fit: A person’s level of physical fitness, as well as his weight, matters for overall health. A study in 2012 showed that overweight and obese people were at no greater risk of developing or dying from heart disease or cancer compared to normal weight people, but only if they were as metabolically fit as their slimmer counterparts. When it comes to premature death, it’s less about how much fat a person carries, but what kind of fat. Visceral or belly fat, for example, is considered more metabolically harmful than fat that sits just under the surface of the skin. Visceral fat, which is embedded more deeply within muscles and organs like the liver, release agents that can disturb the body’s energy balance, shunting calories into fat. Lean people can have high levels of visceral fat in their tissues, while overweight individuals may be carrying more subcutaneous fat and therefore could even be metabolically fitter than those who are slimmer.

Most people who put on weight, however, don’t enjoy a fit status for long. Eventually, the excess weight can contribute to higher rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

You can eat what you want and just exercise to lose weight: Cutting calories by adjusting what you eat is actually the most effective way to lose weight. Ideally, consuming fewer calories and exercising is a more efficient way of dropping pounds, but for most people, passing up the chips is easier than sweating it out on a treadmill for an hour. Downing 140 calories from a can of soda, for example, takes only a few minutes, but would take half an hour of moderately intense walking to burn off. “You can greatly undermine weight loss efforts and general health by not considering the quality of the foods you eat. It is important to consider calorie density and nutrient density of foods to maximize exercise performance and improve health status,” says Gayl Canfield, the director of nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center.

(MORE: The Secrets to Weight Loss: Keep a Food Journal, Don’t Skip Meals, Eat In)

Long bouts of low-intensity exercise are best for losing weight: Fitness experts are trying to de-bunk the myth that pounds melt off faster with low-intensity aerobic exercise than higher intensity workouts. “It’s true the body burns proportionally more fat calories than carbohydrate calories at a lower training intensity, however, should you increase your exercise intensity into the cardiovascular zone you will burn more overall calories,” says Scott Danberg, the director of fitness at Pritikin Longevity Center. Mixing in some short bouts of high-intensity exercise can translate into benefits on the scale.

Eating protein is the best way to feel full and keep calories in check: Lean protein is indeed a good way to get filled up, but fiber is even better, because it comes with fewer calories. To make sure you’re not feeling hungry but still getting all your nutrients, load your plate with fruit, vegetables beans and grains.

24 comments
Asadali
Asadali

The major cause of it is the inactive lifestyle while we still have the diet of a active lifestyle. It is only wise to let go of the bad eating habits and follow a weight loss diet plan.

Asadali
Asadali

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Asadali
Asadali

It’s really because the physicians don’t have time to look for it, and they really have very little training just because in medical school they’re covering so much more.visit the blog

ruthownes
ruthownes

Need to try to run on treadmills - Branxfitness.com, my trainer suggested me for getting slim and fit body. Is it really true ?

rtchsone
rtchsone

This article is bs. recent studies of shown that shorter and more intense exercise is far better at burning fat than longer less intense exercising. We are talking 3x 20 min High Intensity Interval training per week.

Eating protein is key. But paragraph immediately following the headline completely contradicts it by saying you should load your plate with fruit and vegetables and grains.


Grains are the key problem here. We eat far too much of it and that is what is making us sick. Fruit really isn't that much better considering how it is loaded with sugar.


betsys2003
betsys2003

I realize that BMI isn't perfect (in either way - some of us would be overweight when we're still easily in the normal range), but generally, there are not THAT many body builder kids out there who just have so many muscles that they are in the obese category with 5% body fat. This is generally true for all adults, but especially so for kids, who are rarely that muscular. 

If you or your kid falls into that category, it will be obvious, and your doctor will know it too. The problem is, a lot more people seem to think they do. I can't tell you how many people I have heard say "Oh, BMI is so flawed - it says I'm overweight!" and I think well yeah, because you are. A lot of people have a skewed perception of "normal" because everyone they know is overweight.

Two of these things don't really work together, though. Pointing out that people can be in good shape and still be overweight, and then saying you can't exercise away fat. Well, that's true to an extent, but you can exercise your way to better health, even if your weight doesn't follow. Since health is more important anyway, shouldn't that be the point? The second thing seems to make it sound like if you aren't going to diet, you might as well not exercise either, because you probably won't lose weight. When that's exactly what we should NOT be telling people. EVERYONE should exercise, whether or not they ever lose weight from it.

demej00
demej00

I plan to exercise more by buying some virtual reality goggles so that I will constantly move my head around. Of course that means I will have to figure out how to attach my pedometer to my head.

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

Here's the thing about weight loss: People are individuals.  They have individual needs and individual metabolisms.  "Plans" and "Trends" and "Fads" that one person touts WILL NOT WORK ON EVERYONE - or even a majority of people.  Only very general things MAY work such as "Eat less, exercise more" - and even then, WEIGHT LOSS may not occur.  Slimming is more likely.

Each person needs to learn what their body does to gain or lose weight.  For example, when I'm happy, I gain weight.  When I'm depressed, I lose it.  All without a single change in activity food type or caloric intake. (And yes, we've tracked it - my doctor is ready to write me up as a mutant.  Two nutritionists are befuddled.)

It isn't ALWAYS about calories or activity.  Metabolism is the key.  And almost no one understands THEIR metabolism.  We play with food and exercise as ways to change it, but those aren't metabolism.  Those have a role in metabolism, and IMHO a moderately minor one (unless taken to extremes, of course).  Metabolism goes beyond that.  If you understand your metabolism, you hold the key to gaining or losing weight.

The trouble is, few people understand it, and most people have issues learning about it - like my mind-blown MD and a couple of nutritionists who are re-evaluating their choice in trade.

Of course, the article was written by a "journalist" who failed to cite any references or studies to back up the assertions she made in it.  It's marginally acceptable for someone with a strong background, training and education in a particular field to make claims and assertions about it because they can speak as their own authority in that field.  Even then, it's still likely more op-ed rather than an impartial imparting of information.  If they want to be taken more seriously (as in informational rather than oratorical) they would cite other sources as well.

But proper presentation of specific conclusions for someone who has no specific training, education or "officially recognized" authority in a field is to cite the sources supporting their conclusions so that the authenticity and relevance of their assertions can be evaluated by those reading them.  This is the difference between writing dubious nonsense and writing potentially useful information.

Given the numerous mistakes and misrepresentations in the article (load up on grains for fiber to avoid CARBS?  REALLY?  Fat doesn't "transform", etc.), it would seem the article was more dubious nonsense than useful information.

VerbalKarate
VerbalKarate

I stopped reading at- "and as children grow, they transform fat into muscle"

kitINstLOUIS
kitINstLOUIS

I'd really like to see the references that support these facts. 

There is strong evidence that shows losing weight is more difficult if you're doing aerobic activity. There is also abundant evidence that eating protein is better than eating carbs (fiber) because it keeps your blood sugar stable by releasing available energy much more slowly than what happens when you eat carbs. Carbs (whether sugar or whole wheat pasta) will cause an insulin spike that will make you crash within an hour and a half and crave even more carbs. That's why Americans are eating 300-400 grams of carbs a day; it's a vicious cycle. Eat as many of your carb calories in the form of fruits and veggies along with substantial protein for the best nutritional impact. Grains, whether whole or not, is a very poor source of nutrition in comparison. Just eat REAL food, what grows out of the ground or you can slice off an animal. If it's been processed more than that, avoid. 


mtngoatjoe
mtngoatjoe

People simply don't understand what they are putting in their mouths. For most people, if you eat fast food more than once a week, you are likely eating FAR TOO MANY calories. If you are eating sweet desserts more than once a week, you are likely eating FAR TOO MANY calories. If you eat a meal from a box more than once a month (think mac and cheese, tuna helper, etc.), then you are eating FAR TOO MANY calories and far too much salt. If you think orange juice or apple juice is healthy, then you have no idea what healthy is.

If you can talk while working out, then you aren't working out nearly hard enough. If you aren't drenched in sweat when you're done with your cardio workout, then you aren't working out nearly hard enough. If you think you're in muscle failure when your muscles start to hurt, then you aren't lifting nearly hard enough.

Is your salad healthy? Try this: borrow a kitchen scale an measure out 2.75 ounces of salad and then eat it. Congratulations you just had one serving of vegetables. If you are shocked at how much salad you just ate to achieve one serving, then you have no idea what healthy eating is.

Now try this: weigh your salad as before. Now measure how much salad dressing you want to put on it and calculate how many calories of salad dressing you are going to eat. Now compare that to a big mac at McDonald's. If you are eating more calories in salad dressing than a whole big mac, then you have no idea what healthy eating is. Remember, a salad is only as healthy as the food you put on it. If you putting cheese, raisins, or lots of dressing on your salad, then you're not being as healthy as you could be.

One other thing to try: use a scale and measure out 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, and add that to your plate at dinner. If you're shocked at how much food that is, then keep in mind that you should probably be eating about 10 servings of fruit and vegetables every day (and maybe even more!).

Until people understand what they are putting in their mouths, we can't even begin to deal with obesity.

maxmonastyrev
maxmonastyrev

"they transform fat into muscle" incorrect.

You either loose fat, and gain muscle, but not "transform".

RalphAllen
RalphAllen

A new FDA approved diet pill called Belviq just went on the market.Belviq make people more likely to succeed with weight loss since they feel full more quickly and it reduces food cravings.People who take Belviq with diet and exercise were 2 times more likely to lose 5% body weight and 3 times more likely to lose 10% body weight than the people who just did diet and exercise alone. The label states that if you do not lose 5% of your body weight in 12 weeks then consider stopping.Those that do respond in 12 (about 45% of patients) weeks go on to lose over 10% of their body weight in one year.Losing 22 pounds for a 220 pound person is life changing. So 45% of those taking Belviq lose significant amount of weight.

Belviq has a second mode of action to reduce blood sugar which may end up preventing diabetes in many cases. Diabetics and pre-diabetics who took Belviq,REGARDLESS of weight loss, saw their blood sugar numbers drop by double digit percentages. IE HbA1c -0.9 to -1.2 and fasting glucose feel -27.The cost of medications to reduce HbA1c levels exceeds the cost of Belviq. (seeArena'sBloomDM phase III trial) These reductions in diabetic symptoms plus the weight loss at the same time makes Belviq a medicalbargain.

RekkaRiley
RekkaRiley

@betsys2003 The problem with the BMI is that it doesn't separate fat from any other type of mass.

Your skeleton alone accounts for at least 15 lbs, but the BMI still counts that as exactly the same as 15 lbs. of fat.  Your brain is another 3-4 lbs. (it uses up 1/3 of all the calories you consume each day), give about another pound or so for your heart, and I haven't even started on the other internal organs or muscles.  Or hair and skin; those add up too.

It also doesn't take into account your build, where you carry the weight, how healthy your heart and lungs are, etc.  Proportion is also an important factor; someone with the exact same muscle mass as me, on a taller frame, would have a much more "normal" BMI and would appear almost supermodel thin.  And I'm talking muscle here, not fat, though the same principle of proportions applies there too.

There is absolutely no flexibility to it, which is why a lot of doctors are shying away from it.

According to the BMI, a 5' tall female like myself should never weigh more than 112 lbs...yet according to my doctor, if I dropped below where I'm at now (125 lbs), I would appear extremely anorexic and malnourished.  I'm fairly skinny in the torso (26" waistline), but a bit stockier in the lower body (hips, legs, etc.).  Which is actually how women are supposed to carry a healthy level of weight:  too much fat around the stomach is bad, but the same amount of fat centered around the hips and thighs is perfect.  In fact, most of that fat consists of the fatty acids necessary for a growing fetus to develop healthy brain tissue.  My stockiness in the legs isn't just fat; it's a healthy layer of fat over very well-developed muscle from not having a car and walking everywhere.

You are very right in that everyone should exercise, not because of losing weight, but because it keeps the rest of the body healthy.  Kids and obesity kind be tricky because of how growth spurts work; kids do tend to pack on a lot of fat just before they shoot up a few inches, to make sure they have enough energy stored up to support their metabolism as it speeds up.  I've seen a few kids who are seriously pushing it, but until about halfway through puberty it can be really hard to tell. 

No, they're not hiding a lot of muscle that makes them "appear" fat; a child preparing for a growth spurt actually needs the extra fat, because they'll burn it up within a matter of months, possibly a matter of weeks, the second their bones and muscles start stretching again.

RekkaRiley
RekkaRiley

@VerbalKarate Yeah, that's sort of...there's a kernel of truth in there, but the writing bungled it.

Children who are preparing for growth spurts do store up extra fat, which often makes them appear chubby...but it doesn't get turned into muscle.

It just gets burned up.

It's the same principle behind why pregnant women start gaining weight very quickly before the fetus is any bigger than a peanut, and why girls won't menstruate unless they've got enough fat (according to their individual genetics; some need less than others). 

A growing body requires a truly insane amount of energy.  That's why it's honestly hard to tell which children are genuinely obese and have a problem, and which kids are just getting ready to shoot up another several inches in height within the next 6 months or so.

Fun fact:  The human brain actually accounts for a minimum of 1/3 your total calorie consumption and burning.  It takes that much energy to run something as complex as a human brain.  

RekkaRiley
RekkaRiley

@kitINstLOUIS From what I've always been told, the key point is to balance everything.

You do burn a lot more calories during aerobic activity...but you have to warm up first, and if you keep going for too long at that pace you'll burn up too much and end up getting sick.

You're supposed to pace yourself and alternate between slower warm up, intense aerobic activity, a slower rest period, maybe another session of short intense aerobic activity, and then a slow cool down.

Once of the key points with exercise is that as long as you get your heart rate up to the right level, your metabolism will keep burning fuel at that rate for the rest of the day, hours after you've stopped exercising.

And don't hate on grains too much; they're a lot more nutritious than you think, and without them we wouldn't have civilization at all.  The main thing now is that we have a lot more options for food with high nutrition and low effort.

DeannaKelly
DeannaKelly

@mtngoatjoe You're absolutely correct about everything, but unfortunately, most people don't want to hear it, they believe the malarkey about protein shakes, juice diets (juice is nothing more than pure sugar), smoothies (which are usually horribly high in calories) and other fad diets. I lost 50 pounds on my own and I did it by eating the correct servings of the right foods, which included mostly salads, vegetables and fish....and exercising so I was drenched in sweat when I was done and my muscles ached for days afterward. Walking at a snail's pace on the treadmill while reading a book will not do much for one trying to lose weight.  Unless one does the things you mention above, they will not lose weight in a healthy way. You wouldn't believe the number of people who congratulated me jealously on my weight loss, yet stopped listening how to do it as soon as I said,"Salmon and broccoli for lunch". As far as salad dressing...I put 1-2 TBSP on my salad, cover it, and shake it up so all the salad is covered. Drench a salad in dressing, and you might as well eat that Big Mac!

RekkaRiley
RekkaRiley

@maxmonastyrev True facts.

Most children who store up fat before a growth spurt just burn it all off in the process of growing.

Growth spurts require an insane amount of metabolic energy.


kitINstLOUIS
kitINstLOUIS

@RalphAllen Thanks for the tip, Mr. Big Pharma! Heaven forbid someone should just quit eating the mountain of processed food they've come to depend on. 

I eat whenever I'm hungry and as much as I want, yet I've lost 37 pounds in the past 15 months. Why? No more junk food, ever. No processed flour, no processed sugar, no artificial anything. 

It's very sad to me to think that only relatively well-off Americans can afford to eat like I do. My husband and I spend about 180 bucks a month at the grocery store; I realize that's more than most can spend.

Let's subsidize organic food instead of corn and wheat, and leave pharmaceuticals off our plate as much as possible. 

RekkaRiley
RekkaRiley

@betsys2003 @kitINstLOUIS @RalphAllen No, it's a "people making money" thing.

Or people not having money...

Speaking from experience, living on an extremely tight budget, most healthier food does tend to be a lot more expensive than the less nutritious stuff.

Fresh fruits and vegetables have a significantly higher transportation cost due to how easily they spoil, and most of them require very specific conditions to grow.  The spoilage factor also means that you have to either get very tiny amounts, and watch the cost add up faster, or you end up getting a larger amount for a cheaper price only to watch it spoil because you weren't home enough to eat all of it fast enough.

In contrast, most grains and cereal crops are much easier to grow and can survive pretty much everywhere.  They don't offer as much nutritionally, except for raw calories, but when you're just trying to survive paycheck to paycheck, the calories are what you need to make it through the work day.

Same thing with meat; livestock is easier to manage and provides a lot more protein and calories per unit for less cost than most non-starch vegetables.  Animal protein is also easier for humans to digest; we're omnivores, not obligate carnivores, so we don't need as much animal protein as some creatures, but we do require at least some (not always meat; milk, eggs, and cheese work just as well, and don't require killing the source).  There are also several forms of livestock (chickens, goats, pigs, etc.) that don't require anywhere near as much room as a field of vegetables.

There is an excellent documentary on Netflix called "Guns, Germs, and Steel" that goes into more detail about exactly how climate and available crops have shaped us.  There's also a book by the same title that I've heard is an excellent read.

Another thing to remember: yes, it's healthier to cook your own meals at home...but how do you manage that if you're working 60 hours a week to make ends meet and trying to get through part-time college at the same time?  

betsys2003
betsys2003

@kitINstLOUIS @RalphAllen I have never understood the idea that eating healthier means spending more money. I'm a vegetarian - is it a meat thing? Is non-crappy meat way  more expensive or something?

Usually the cheapest meals I eat are the ones that are the least processed. A nice tofu/vegetables/rice stirfry can be about a dollar a serving depending on which vegetables I choose (broccoli, carrots, onions - cheap, peppers, asparagus - expensive). Making a nice bean and vegetable soup is probably even cheaper than that. I've been making salads for lunches lately, and again, you can make it more expensive by including certain things (avocados, peppers) but you don't have to. And even if you do, it's definitely cheaper than buying a lunch, which a lot of people do. Or getting lazy and grabbing a frozen meal.

If you want to be a little less obsessive and allow processed grains, which most people say are fine in moderation, you can make tacos, pasta, sandwiches, and burgers incredibly fast and cheap, and okay, maybe it's not quite as good for you as the stirfry, but it sure beats fast food.

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@kitINstLOUIS @RalphAllen 800 bucks a MONTH for TWO PEOPLE???

That works so well for the average minimum wage worker who gets about that after taxes per month if they manage to work full time in the first place.