On the surface, weight loss and weight gain seem like pretty obvious results of certain behaviors. Eat more than you burn, and you’ll gain weight; eat less, and you’ll lose it. If only life were that simple! As any struggling dieter will tell you, the truth is a lot more complicated than that. Much of the problem? Many of us misunderstand the science behind weight loss and gain. Click through to check out some of the biggest myths about weight gain and loss.
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1. Myth: If You’re Overweight, You’re Unhealthy.
Reality: Packed on a few pounds? You’re not necessarily sending yourself to an early grave. Despite what many of us believe, if you’re fat, you’re not automatically unhealthy. There are healthy fat people and unhealthy thin people, and vice versa. Taken on its own, a person’s weight has nothing to do with how healthy they are.
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2. Myth: Eating Spicy Will Boost Your Metabolism.
Reality: Don’t believe the hype. Spicy foods do not really boost your metabolism in any meaningful, measurable way. That’s not to say that eating well won’t boost your metabolism — healthy, balanced diets with plenty of protein certainly will.
3. Myth: Yo-Yo Dieting Will Ruin Your Metabolism Forever.
Reality: As bad as yo-yo dieting is, luckily, it’s not going to permanently ruin your metabolism. That’s not to say that yo-yo dieting is healthy — it’s certainly not — but that, with hard work, you can repair your metabolism to its normal rate.
4. Myth: Eat an Extra 3,500 Calories, and You’ll Gain 1 Pound of Fat.
Reality: Doctors have long touted the idea that 3,500 calories equals one pound of body fat. So, in order to lose one pound of fat a week, you need to eat 500 fewer calories a day. Keep doing that for a year, and you’ll drop over 50 pounds. Sounds great, doesn’t it? If only it were that simple. For one, the human body is hardwired to protect itself against famine, so it’s going to do everything in its nature to prevent weight loss. Your weight also fluctuates considerably based on the time of the day, how much water you’ve had, where you are in your menstrual cycle, hormones, etc.
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5. Myth: Weight Lifting Will Make You Heavier.
Reality: Strength training will, for some people, deceive their weight loss plans — but only if they’re measuring success by the numbers on the scale. Muscle does not weigh more than fat (bonus myth!), but muscle is denser than fat — so you could very well lose inches off your waist and not see the scale budge at all.
6. Myth: As Long As You Exercise, You Won’t Gain Weight.
Reality: You can eat a huge slice of chocolate cake for every meal as long you work out, right? Nope! If you’re not a professional athlete or trainer, odds are, that you’ll never burn enough calories to make up for all that cake. You can’t just rely on exercise for weight loss.