1. Are Carbs and Sugars the Devil Incarnate?
Since 1972, when Robert Atkins formulated his “revolutionary” diet, the market has been inundated with high-fat, low-carb diets, claiming that sugars and other complex carbohydrates are the number one reason for weight gain. Low-carb fad diets like keto and Atkins say that most of our body weight is stored in sugars, not fats, and that by cutting down sugars we will not only burn the sugars in our body, but also use fats as our main energy source. Sure, people employing such strict diets will see rather swift results as the body burns sugars, but for the fat burned to be on par with the fat consumed, a person needs to be intensely engaged in physical activity, especially since burning fat is substantially harder on the body compared to using up carbs for energy.
In the end, all extreme and restrictive diets are hard to maintain over time and may cause long-term damage to the body as weight, fats and sugars fluctuate wildly over periods of mere months.
A preferred nutrition balances carbohydrates, fats and proteins, shunning none, as all are important for our bodily functions. As for sweets, sugars that are naturally-present in food such as fruit and vegetables are just fine. What one should be wary of are mainly refined and added sugars.
2. What Diet Is the Best for Weight Loss?
None. The diet mentality focuses on highly-prohibitive eating regimens with short-term weight-loss in mind, causing even more extreme weigh-gain afterwards, not to speak of mental turmoil as you see all of the work you put into your diet crumble to dust.
Rather than thinking in terms of diets, we should be thinking about nutrition, and a type of menu and routine we can actually stick to long-term. Yes, the results won’t be immediate or impressive as those of the more extreme diets, but they will be sustainable.
Before eliminating stuff you love from the dining table, consider whether or not you’d like to reintroduce it back further down the line. If that’s the case, you’d be much better served building your diet around still eating or drinking that one thing you really love (in moderation, of course).
3. Can I Lose Weight Simply by Exercising?
To put simply- no. The notion that you can simply compensate for bad eating habits by running does not hold water, as eating the weight you lost exercising is surprisingly easy and people tend to overestimate how exerting their exercise actually was. Moreover, poor results might encourage a person to overindulge in exercise, as if working even harder will yield better results, risking actual harm to the body.
There is no magic trick to weight-loss. The best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle is to have sustainable healthy eating habits alongside regular physical activity.
4. What’s the Worst Thing People Consume?
Surprisingly, the main weight-offender isn’t a food at all, but a drink. Sugar-sweetened sodas are among the unhealthiest things people regularly consume, with a 20 oz bottle of coke containing 16 teaspoons of sugar. For comparison’s sake, imagine dropping 16 teaspoons of sugar into your coffee tumbler. Rather extreme, no?
This amount of added sugars is impossible to effectively burn, causes dramatic rises and drops in blood sugar levels and can affect insulin sensitivity in the body, ultimately causing type 2 diabetes.
All of this is on top of literally zero health benefits.
5. What’s the Best Exercise to Lose Belly Fat?
This question belies a serious misconception that where body fats are stored has to do with which parts of our body are underdeveloped or weak. This is born out of a rather strange idea that fat magically turns to muscle when people work out, or vice versa. That is not actually how weight-loss or muscle definition work.
For all of the people focusing on sit-ups, planking and belly crunches out of some hope that this will make their stomach flat, it is quite possible and common for a person to have strong abdominal muscles AND a protruding gut.
The way the body stores fat boils down mostly to genetics and gender and has nothing to do with strength. Conversely, any activity that burns fat will burn it no matter where it is stored.
6. What Should Be My Caloric Intake if I Want to Lose Weight?
There is no universal formula that works for everyone with regards to how many calories you should be consuming in a day. Reducing caloric intake too dramatically will doubtlessly yield results, but it will also have a poor effect on your psychology, constant craving and an eventual relapse.
By accounting for age, gender, current weight and height, you can come up with a general idea of a recommended daily calorie intake, but different bodies function differently, and you can never come up with a magic number by using formulas.
As a general rule, eating less than you’re currently eating is a good idea. By how much is exactly what you should be figuring out, and it is a process of self-learning. Monitor your weekly diet, try eating 5-10% less than that and take note of how you’re feeling and the effects on your weight. Take it slow and don’t be afraid to take steps backwards if you find yourself tired and starving.
7. Why Is Healthy Food so Expensive?
In short- it isn’t. A study held in Australia found that unhealthy diets were actually more expensive to maintain than healthy ones. While it may be true that whole grain breads are more expensive than refined grain white bread, bread isn’t the only component of an unhealthy diet. That same study found that as much as 64% of people’s food budget was being spent on take-out food, soda drinks and alcoholic beverages.
Another way of considering how “cost-effective” a healthy diet is are the medical bills one is saving by committing to a healthy lifestyle. Sadly, this sort of long-term thinking and investing is often hard to conceptualize and fully appreciate in a world that seems built upon immediate gratification.
8. What’s the Verdict on Gluten?
As a general rule, if someone is telling that this or that natural food or beverage is bad for you, using the plural form of “you”, he’s probably being incredibly irresponsible, as different things are bad for different people.
Gluten is a mixture of proteins that are present in some of the most popular grains, including wheat, barley, rye and oats.
In and of itself, gluten is of rather low nutritional value, but gluten cannot be isolated. The grains that contain gluten also contain valuable nutrients like iron, and B vitamins. Conversely, many gluten-free alternatives aren’t nearly as nutritious as whole grain flour, and can be richer in both fats and carbs.
If you aren’t suffering from a gastrointestinal condition that prohibits gluten (such as coeliac), there’s absolutely no reason for you to drop gluten.
9. What Are the Healthiest Foods?
Vegetables. Shocker, I know. More specifically, non-starchy vegetables should be your go-to. This includes most greens, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and even the unfairly-maligned mushrooms. Vegetables are the best source for many nutrients, they have a sating effect on our stomach and they are rich in fibers, all in a package that yields very little calories.
Vegetables are the closest thing we have to a common thread between effective weight-loss measures.
10. Can I Snack?
Many diets tout eating many small meals throughout the day, and for good reason- eating between meals can stop you from overeating during lunchtime. Snacking could be a good idea, depending on what you’re snacking on and how much of it you’re eating. Nuts, fruit, raisins and veggies are all healthy snack options.
A good rule of thumb is to eat if you’re hungry, and to abstain from snacking if you’re prone to overindulge.