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Are You Making These Weight Loss Mistakes?

Updated on May 30, 2014

Exercise More, Eat Less?

If you follow conventional weight-loss advice and still struggle to lose pounds and keep them off, you're not alone. Too much exercise along with excess calorie restriction are common factors that work against people in their efforts to lose weight.

The idea that weight loss is as simple as eating less and exercising more is flawed and dangerous, yet nutritionists and doctors continue to give this advice as if it were based on pure evidence.

Elevated Cortisol = More Body Fat

When you reduce your caloric intake and amp up the intensity of your workouts, you become hungry and miserable. This isn't healthy! Calorie restriction and too much exercise boost cortisol levels, the stress hormone released by adrenal glands. Elevated cortisol levels increase body fat and cause a variety of other health problems.

The Problem With Sugar

Fructose Feeds Fat

Prior to the fat-phobia movement, it was common knowledge that excess sugar and starches in the diet are what make you gain weight. Since then, clever marketing and repeated falsehoods have taken the focus off of sugar.

Fructose is not a healthy substance. This fruit sugar goes straight to your fat cells and has proven to raise triglycerides, which elevate heart disease risk. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is about 55 percent fructose and table sugar is half fructose, so to say that sugar is healthier than HFCS is basically like saying that low-tar cigarettes are healthier than regular varieties.

Agave nectar is a popular health food store product. This refined sweetener may not elevate blood sugar levels, but that's because it is high in fructose, which doesn't affect blood sugar. Like HFCS, agave nectar is made from refined plant starch. Its fructose content averages about 70 to 80 percent. Since fructose quickly turns to fat, this sweetener is certainly not going to help you lose stubborn belly jiggle.

Gary Taubes

Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health
Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health

Gary Taubes turned the diet world upside-down with his book Good Calories Bad Calories. It is packed . . . PACKED full of studies and historical information that is more intense than a college nutrition course.


Tom Naughton--Smart and Hilarious

Hormones Out of Whack? That Can Make You Fat

Refined carbohydrates, grains, starches, and dehydrated fruits all elevate blood glucose (sugar) levels dramatically. When blood glucose levels increase, your body sends the fat-storing hormone insulin to bring them down to normal.

Over time, continual spikes in blood glucose lead to the need for greater amounts of insulin. This is insulin resistance, and it leads to an increase in fat stores.

If your body stores fat but doesn't use the energy you consume to feed the rest of your body, then your hunger continues. For those who are overweight, fat cells hold on to the nourishment that should be distributed to muscles and organs. Hormonal imbalances (think insulin and cortisol) are the cause.

Fixing this problem isn't as simple as eating less and exercising more. If you're hormones are out of whack because you're eating foods that work against you--all the while starving yourself and over-exercising--it will be very difficult to achieve a healthy, sustained weight. It will also damage your health and make life unpleasant.

Overweight People Aren't Lazy

Research shows that there is more to weight loss than calories in, calories out. A study that followed over 200 children annually for seven to 10 years found that physical inactivity was the result of weight gain, not the cause.

You can still gain weight while restricting calories when you're eating the wrong foods. Unfortunately, these are often the foods that advertisements and health experts tell you to eat--high carbohydrate, refined, packaged, low-fat foods. You gain weight and as a result, lose energy. This makes physical activity a challenge, to say the least.

Wheat Belly

Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health
Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health

If you ever wanted to know what all the hullaballoo about gluten free diets is all about, check out Wheat Belly. Dr. Davis provides this easy read with stories that will amaze you.


Wheat and Sugar Products Give You the Munchies

Many of the foods that you think are helping you to lose weight are instead working against you.

Wheat and sugar are the worst offenders because they are contained in virtually all processed foods. Health food store aisles are stocked full of these addictive, unhealthy products that lead to weight gain and other health issues.

Wheat and sugar are addictive and increase your appetite because

  • Wheat contains amylopectin A, an easily digestible carbohydrate that elevates blood glucose levels more than almost anything else. This increases the demand for fat-storing insulin.
  • Wheat's polypeptides cross the blood-brain barrier and reach areas of the brain that are stimulated by drugs of abuse, making it an addictive substance. Cutting wheat from the diet often results in an uncomfortable withdrawal effect that lasts for several days.
  • Sugar also crosses the blood-brain barrier, stimulating reward pathways that lead to addiction. The average person eats and drinks 150 pounds of sugar each year, although most have no idea that they consume that much. The amount of sugar that is hidden in the products that you eat and drink is often overlooked.

A sugar habit keeps you coming back for more. The more sugar you consume, the more you need to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Artificial and Natural Sweeteners Aren't Helping

Artificial sweeteners also promote a sweet tooth.

A sweet taste creates a desire for more sweets. Non nutritive, calorie-free sweeteners actually stimulate your appetite and cause you to consume more calories by failing to complete the two-step food reward process. It is far more beneficial to wean yourself off of a sweetener habit. It isn't an easy task, but eventually, the natural sweetness and flavors in real foods become satisfying.

Artificial and "natural" flavors are created on purpose to overstimulate your brain and then disappear, giving you the urge to go back for more. This includes weight-loss products promoted as lite or low in calories.

Food manufacturers aren't concerned about your health or weight-loss goals, they want you to buy more of their products. All they have to do is keep you thinking that you're doing something good for your body.

Unsatisfying low-calorie foods, especially those contained in "100 calorie" packages, don't contribute to healthy weight loss. They are devoid of nutrients, high in fat-building sugar, and unsatisfying. You end up eating more than you should, feeling bad about yourself and thinking there is something wrong with you.

Deep Nutrition by Dr. Cate Shanahan

Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food
Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food

This book is an amazing resource that describes why traditional diets and practices promote good health. Dr. Shanahan's perspectives are super interesting.


Use Diet and Exercise Correctly for Sustained Weight Loss

The most successful diets are nutrition plans that keep you feeling satisfied, energetic, and healthy. They take off weight without struggle and pain.

Diets that contain a variety of real foods derived from nature and abstain from refined carbohydrates and processed foods are the most beneficial for weight, health, and disease prevention.

Studies show that diets high in protein keep blood glucose levels steady and promote extended satiety. Natural fats also keep you feeling full while supporting a healthy balance of sex and stress hormones.

Physical activity is still an important part of health and longevity. But overdoing it can have the opposite effect. Walking, yoga, tai chi, or a quick sprint each day are excellent ways to encourage healthy weight loss.

Not all calories are created equal. A diet of natural whole foods promotes healthy weight loss and the energy to maintain an active lifestyle. Get rid of the old mindset that you need to exercise more and eat less--it's an idea not backed by science. And most importantly, it's not healthy for your body and mind!

© Liz Davis 2012


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    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 4 years ago from Hudson, FL

      Well, we all make mistakes! No one has all the answers. It's tough to sift through the misinformation and the mysteries. Thanks so much, Sage! I learn a lot from your articles as well.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 4 years ago

      I realize I'm making a lot of mistakes, lol. Well, not that many... I lost a lot in the past for health reasons and maintain it pretty well but it can still be a struggle. I love your healthy food articles, I'm learning a lot.


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