If you’ve ever done a Google search on how to lose weight, you’ve probably come across a bunch of contradictory nonsense from “weight-loss gurus” who are trying their absolute best to overcomplicate something that’s actually pretty simple.
At a fundamental level, losing weight is as simple as burning more calories than you consume. If you keep your body in a calorie deficit, overtime, you’ll lose weight.
Still, so many people have these ridiculous notions about how to go about it, some of which are actually quite counterproductive. The purpose of this article is to identify some of the most absurd weight-loss strategies in order to save you some time and misery.
MYTH #1: Layering Up In The Gym Burns More Calories
Many people are under the impression that working out in a hoody is a good way to lose weight. The reasoning probably has something to do with the fact that you sweat more when you’re wearing layers, but all you’re really doing is inducing a state of dehydration. Once you rehydrate (you have to eventually), you’ll weight the same as before.
You are not targeting any fat. In fact, you’d actually burn a lot more calories running down the street naked in a blizzard!
You see, the human body is actually has quite an efficient cooling system…it’s called sweating. The reason we sweat is because our body is trying to cool down. Since sweating is an easy way for the body to cool down, it doesn’t burn many calories.
When it comes to heating up, however, the human body is not so efficient. When you’re cold, your body is forced to initiate processes, such as shivering, which require many calories. Put simply, you burn more calories when you’re cold, not when you’re hot.
Shivering actually burns about the same amount of calories as jogging. Seriously. Research has actually shown that shivering for 10-15 minutes when exposed to cold temperatures burns roughly as many calories as an hour of normal exercise!
Of course, you can’t actually just stand out there in a snow storm to lose weight (because you might die), but the point is that, if anything you would want to be as cold as possible when working out, not hot. So ditch the hoodie if you’re actually trying to lose fat.
MYTH #2: Running Is The Best Way To Burn Fat
If you take a walk through the cardio section of any gym, you’ll see a lot of people jogging because they’re under the impression that it’s the best way for them to lose weight. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
In comparison to weight-lifting (assuming moderate intensity level), running actually burns less calories. If only all those people on the treadmills knew that what they should really be doing is lifting weights! Oh well, hopefully some of those people are reading this article.
If that’s you, don’t worry. It’s not as if cardio isn’t important. It’s just not the best way to lose weight, if that’s your goal.
If burning as much fat as possible is the goal, you should be doing a combination of cardio and resistance training. This doesn’t mean you do a set of squats then run over to the treadmill and jog a mile, but you need to make time for both.
The best form of cardio if you’re trying to lose weight is without question High Intensity Interval Training, where you perform short, intense exercises such as sprints, as opposed to jogging a mile or two at a steady pace.
You can apply the same high intensity level to your resistance training. Such training has been dubbed High Intensity Interval Resistance Training (HIRT), and is a highly effective means of facilitating fat-loss.
MYTH #3: Carbs Make You Fat
The notion that carbohydrate consumption is to blame for the Obesity epidemic is certainly pervasive, but it’s not supported by scientific research.
First of all, you need carbs. If you were to cut out carbs completely, you’d be constantly fatigued, irritated, and just generally miserable. Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of energy for working out. If you work out regularly, you need carbs to maintain muscle glycogen stores to power those workouts.
It is true that excess carbohydrates can be converted to fat, this process happens much less readily than the mainstream media that’s been pushing this low-carb nonsense would have you believe. In fact, unless you consume a ridiculously low level of dietary fat, you’re body really won’t go out of its way to convert carbs to fat.
If you exercise regularly and are looking to build muscle and gain strength, you’ll actually benefit from a moderate to high carb intake, but rather than focusing on counting carbs, you should focus on selecting the right carbs.
Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, vegetables (sweet potatoes are awesome), and brown rice are absorbed more slowly and will not spike your Insulin levels massively.
Simple carbohydrates, such as sugar, fruit juice, and non-whole grain pasta, aren’t necessarily “bad” but you should ideally limit your intake as much as possible. Immediately after your workout is a fine time to consume simple carbs because they willquickly replenish depleted glycogen in muscle tissue, but if you’re guzzling tons of sugary drinks or eating a lot of sugary food, don’t be surprised if your Insulin Sensitivity gets out of whack over time.
Depending on you’re calorie intake, cutting out simple sugars from your diet may be the difference between losing weight fairly easily and staying the same/gaining.
The Bottom Line On Weight Loss
Like many things in life, losing weight is simple but not necessarily easy. However, provided you have the self-control and determination, you can lose all the weight you want by making a few changes to your diet, exercise-routine, or lifestyle.
Don’t fall for over-hyped psuedo-scientific fad diets or “ground-breaking” workout programs, just focus on the basics. You need to burn more calories than you take in. The easiest way to do that is to increase the intensity of your exercise and cut out unnecessary calories such as junk food and soft drinks. If you do that, you’ll lose weight. Period.
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I'm Matt, Founder of Momentum Nutrition and SuppWithThat.com. I've spent the better part of the last decade researching and experimenting in the areas of fitness, nutrition, and supplementation, and this is where I write it all down.