Running and Weight Loss Myths

 

I’m not sure that any other industry has as many myths as the weight loss and exercise industry. In today’s blog, I’d like to share three, from my new book, THE RUNNING DIET:

Myth: Eating right before going to bed will make you fat.

Most nights, after dinner, I eat a bowl of cereal. If I eat the cereal at 7:59 pm, I never gain weight. But if I eat the cereal at 8:01 pm, it goes right to my hips and thighs. See how silly that sounds? The enzymes that break down food and are responsible for storing fat don’t wear watches. It makes no difference what time of day you eat; weight loss or weight gain is about how many calories you consume versus how many calories you expend. If you create a metabolic demand throughout the day because you are very active, the calories you consume will be used to meet the metabolic demand and not get stored as fat. Regardless of the time of day.

Myth: Thin people have a higher/faster metabolism.

Try this experiment: hold five copies of one of my books in one hand and one copy in the other. Which arm is doing more work to hold the books? In which arm is metabolic rate higher? If I had a dollar for every person who has ever commented on the speed of my metabolism, I would be able to pay off my large student loan debt. Just because I’m thin doesn’t mean I have a fast metabolism. Heavier people actually have a higher metabolism because it takes more energy to support a heavier weight than it does to support a lighter weight, just like holding five copies of my books in your hand takes more energy than holding one copy.

When it comes to expending energy, body weight matters. As Isaaac Newton’s second law of motion (the Law of Acceleration) tells us, an acceleration is produced when a force acts on an object and is equal to that force divided by the object’s mass (a = F ÷ m, or its more recognized form, F = m x a). The greater the object’s mass, the more force is required to get it moving. This is why a heavy person uses more calories doing the same exercise at the same intensity than does a light person.

Myth: Low-carb diets are good for weight loss.

Research shows that low-carb diets can result in initial weight loss. So if your goal is to lose weight in the next few weeks because you have an event to go to and want to look good, then cutting out most of the carbs from your diet will help you lose weight. However, low-carb diets, while popular, are not good for the long term because it is not a sustainable strategy. You need to exercise to keep the weight off, and carbohydrate is the muscles’ preferred fuel during exercise. Without adequate carbohydrate in the muscles and blood, your workouts will suffer and you won’t feel good during them. Carbs are also important for immune function. Biochemically, fat burns in the flame of carbohydrate, so carbs must be present for fat to be burned effectively.

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