Myth Busting Women’s Fitness Part 2.
So in part one, we talked about how calories matter and how lifting weights does not make you bulky. We also talked about how social media has had a massive impact on this industry, some good, some bad. Our next two myths I think you’ll find interesting.
1- Your body goes into starvation mode when you don’t eat and you stop losing weight:
You hear this all the time. You need to eat every 2 hours to keep your metabolism firing, eat fat to burn fat and if you don’t eat your body goes into starvation mode, and you won’t burn body fat.
Like we discussed in part one, if you burn off more calories than you take in, you will lose fat. Fact.It’s the laws of energy balance, energy in versus energy out.
One of the most notable and extreme studies done on this topic was way back the 1940s. It was called the Minnesota Semi-Starvation Experiment.
The men were given a 1200 calorie diet throughout the study and walked 22 miles a week.
The purpose of the study was to find out what the physiological effects semi-starvation. In the first six months, the average weight loss was 35 pound, and they continued to shed weight throughout the study.
Some men had to be excluded from the study with one reporting vivid dreams of cannibalism!
Am I saying starve yourself? Not.
Will missing a meal kill you? NO. Will your metabolism slow down if you skip breakfast? NO. Will your body go into starvation mode if you decrease your calories slightly? NO. Are you not burning body fat because you’re not eating enough? Highly unlikely. Are you dreaming of eating people after a couple of days of decreasing your portion size? I hope not.
One quick thing before we finish, if you diet down and decrease your food by a massive amount straight off the bat you will have problems regarding your energy output. Your body will slow down your involuntary movement, and you will move slower from A to B. So bring down your calories gradually over time to keep the energy levels on the high side.
2 -Just Eat When Your Body Tells You to Eat.
Ok, so this one is not so much a myth because it can work for some people. However, there is a lot of people recommending this as an entry point into trying to lose body fat.
The problem with listening to your body is that most people don’t know when they are hungry or when they are full. When it comes to eating we are very much automated, wake up eat, it's 10 am I need to eat, 1 pm guess what? Yep, eat again, snack for the 3 pm slump anybody? Don’t forget dinner and something before bed.
This is eating through habit, for the most part, it can be a good thing, if you’re eating mostly whole foods, however, if it’s a case that you’re overeating on mostly processed foods well then it’s a problem.
Think about you’re the last time you had a takeaway or went out for a meal; we typically overeat with both. You could consume 2000 calories in one sitting, yet you always have room for dessert. So even though you are full days eating in one sitting you’ll still crave dessert.
If we listened to our bodies in that situation, we would be adding another 300-500 calories on top.
This is called sensory-specific satiety; this means that fullness only applies to foods that have similar sensory properties (sweet, salty, sour, fatty) to the ones we just ate. Think about how much we overeat at a buffet, despite the fact the food is not always the best quality food.
At a buffet, we don’t have the opportunity to habituate to any particular food, because every few bites, we’re eating something new. We do eventually stop of course, but the damage is done.
Another claim of this way of eating is that our ancestors ate this way. This is not true, for example, take the Hazda, a hunter-gather tribe from The Rift Valley of Africa. This area is known as the cradle of mankind.
The Hadza have been studied extensively over the past few decades and without going too deep into what the tribes day to day is we can note that they gorge when confronted with an abundance of food. One researcher noted a Hadza Male drink a litre of honey! They also observed massive feasts when a kill was made, why you might ask?
Well, the Hadza wouldn’t know when their next meal was, and it was noted that most of the villagers reported feelings of hunger a lot. So ate a lot when the food was available, but it wasn’t always available.
My point is, maybe we are still hard-wired to gorge when we come across an abundance of food, and our brain still thinks it’s on The Rift Valley instead of a buffet. Something to think about at least. Food choices are everywhere, from TV ads to billboards to the sights and smells of the golden arch of Mc Donald’s or a doughnut shop. We are fighting our environment daily.
For me, eating when you feel like eating, is not the way forward for most people.