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1: “Healthy” is a really dumb term when it comes to food.
When someone says they’re going to start “eating healthier,” it’s generally met with praise and encouragement, as it should be! However, “healthier” is a really, really vague term, that has absolutely no meaning. Like “natural,” “healthy” isn’t a descriptor regulated or defined by any board of health or nutritional committee. It’s generally accepted that “eating healthy” is synonymous with “I’m trying to lose weight.” Of course, this can be a bit misleading when it comes to “healthy” vs. “unhealthy” food, because…
2: A salad can cause you to gain more weight than a Big Mac.
Big Mac: 563 calories, 33 grams of fat, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 26 grams of protein.
Applebee’s Grilled Shrimp ‘n Spinach Salad: 1000 calories, 66 grams of fat, 67 grams of carbohydrates, 44 grams of protein.
Guess which one will make you gain more weight? Yup, the salad. Yes, even though the shrimp is grilled and it has spinach in it. In fact, the types of food you eat matter a lot less than how much food you eat, at least when it comes down strictly to “losing weight.” This is because…
3: It really does all come down to calorie counts.
Calories in > Calories out = Gain weight. Calories in < Calories out = Lose weight. For some reason, this has begun to be disputed in the mainstream. I blame fad diets and viral Facebook lemon juice “fat burners.” Regardless, with the exception of the very, very few unfortunate folks out there dealing with very, very specific health challenges, generally speaking if you’re gaining weight, it’s because you’re eating too much food. Exercise matters too, sure, but only by affecting how many calories you burn. Even then, all the exercise in the world can’t make up for a runaway fork and knife because…
4: Basically everyone’s metabolisms are the same.
At least when we’re speaking for adults. Yes, there is variance between men and women, and variance between drastically different heights and weights. But if you take a 5’9″ guy who weighs 200 lbs and compare him to a 5’10” guy who weighs 210 lbs, they’re going to have basically the same caloric requirements, barring regular intense training (on a level that most people don’t actually work out at on a regular basis.) Yes, Michael Phelps consumed like six thousand calories a day when he was competing. He was also an olympic level swimmer.
Kids, of course, have different metabolic rates that vary widely depending on age, but for the most part, if you’re comparing someone to someone of similar size/age, they’re going to have the same rough metabolic rate, barring thyroid problems or severe health complications.
5: Fat doesn’t make you fat.
Now, this should be taken with a grain of salt due to the whole calories in/out thing we discussed above. The fat content in your foot matters because fat contains nine calories per gram, compared to four calories for protein and carbohydrates. But the fact is, if your base calorie requirements were 2000 calories, and you ate 2500 calories a day, limiting yourself to JUST carbs and protein somehow, you’d still gain roughly a pound a week. Your body would also hate you a lot and probably stop working because it really, really needs fat to function. Yes, even saturated fat.
Additionally, fat makes you feel full faster and more efficiently than protein or carbs do, so if you have it in a nice proportion to your protein and carbs it actually helps with losing weight since it make you feel satiated.
6: Cholesterol doesn’t give you high cholesterol.
For a long time, there was a fear of dietary cholesterol causing high LDL cholesterol levels in the blood (LDL is the “bad” cholesterol.) This went along with the same logic as the low-fat weight loss craze of the 80s and 90s. The fact is, though, after multiple scientific studies done, there appear to be little to no correlation between high dietary cholesterol and high LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream. How’d we overlook this so long? Well, obesity definitely still contributes to high LDL cholesterol, and obese people tend to eat a lot of food that’s high in cholesterol (and fat, and sugar) so the idea was considered to be just “common sense” for a long time. However, there’s been no real science to support it, so keep eating those egg yolks and that greek yogurt!
7: Carbs are not evil.
After the low-fat craze started to die out, the Atkins craze kind of took hold for a while, as well as the Paleo diet after that. People started looking at carbs as evil fat-causing monsters. Well the fact is, your body really does need carbs, and in a pretty large quantity, too. However, the problem in modern western culture is that everything has carbs in it. Like, everything. We just eat way too much carbohydrates. We should really be getting the majority of our carbohydrates from vegetables and one or two helpings of whole grains a day.
Instead, the average American eats some form of grain or grain derivative with every single meal, and most snacks, too. Even when they’re not eating grains, they’re still getting lots of carbs because basically everything has sugar added to it. This in itself is a problem because…
8: Sugar is evil.
Yo. We have a sugar problem. A serious sugar problem. We consume like 1000% the recommended amount of sugar we should be every year, and that’s because sugar, as I mentioned, is in everything. Fruit juice? Liquid sugar, little to no nutritional value. White bread? More like sugar bread. Breakfast cereals? Sugar for breakfast! Your favorite cola brand? Here, drink some candy!
Seriously, sugar is evil, and that’s partially because your body digests simple sugars faster than just about anything else. When digested, sugar causes your brain to release some dopamine – the happy hormone – which is the same chemical that gets released when a heroin user injects themselves. We are literally addicted to sugar, with all the indicators of an actual, drug addiction. Try tracking your sugar intake one day to see for yourself. Anything you eat, look at the nutritional label and write down how many grams of sugars and added sugars are in the food. Recommended daily value is around 25 grams per day. How much are you eating?
9: Cleanses are Useless
I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of people pushing various “cleanses,” on your social network of choice. These specialty concoctions and recipes claim to “clear toxins out of your body” or “block fat cells from accumulating,” or some other miracle quality. Want to have some fun? Ask these people what “toxins” these products clear from the body, how these toxins bio-accumulate in the first place, and a scientific study to back it all up. We do, actually, already have a built-in body filtration system, that removes “toxins” from your blood. It’s called your liver, and as long as you have a functioning model, your body is cleansing itself just fine. If you don’t have a functioning model, wellllll…all of the lemon juice and apple cider vinegar in the world isn’t going to help you, I’m afraid.
10: Losing Weight is Simple, but Not Easy
So, when you eat food, especially simple sugars (which, as we already mentioned, are evil,) your body releases a chemical called “dopamine.” Dopamine is basically your brain’s “happy chemical.” It’s released when you eat food, complete a task, read something you like, etc. It’s also released when a heroin addict shoots up, or an alcoholic takes a drink. Food can become an addiction, just like a drug, as your brain becomes addicted to the quick and easy “pleasure hits” it gets when you eat something. Now, I’m not equating cheeseburgers to hard drugs, that would be trivializing drug addicts’ struggles. However, having a food addiction is a real thing, and it’s part of what makes it so hard for some people to lose weight.
In order to lose weight, you need to eat less, and potentially exercise more. That’s it, seriously (unless you’re one of the .001% of humanity with an extreme medical condition preventing weight loss.) However, unlike an alcoholic, you can’t go “off food” for the rest of your life. You need to build a new relationship with food, instead of just cutting it out. That’s why losing weight and getting in shape is, as I said, simple, but not necessarily easy. Luckily, we’re here to help you, when you’re ready.
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As always, remember to live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome.
Dan “DaRatmastah” Wallace