Diet myths debunked: Why you can't lose the last 10 pounds

Change the way you think about your food and exercise to achieve your weight-loss goals.

Woman working out with weights

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If the scale hasn’t budged in several weeks you may want to reassess your diet and exercise regimen – more specifically – some of the beliefs that may be stopping you from shedding the last 10 pounds.

1. Eat until you’re full
Hunger is something that we’re taught to avoid. A bit of hunger in between meals may, however, just get you to your goal faster. Aim to eat every 3-4 hours (no more, no less) and allow yourself to get a little hungry from time to time before giving in. Be careful, boredom is often mistaken for hunger.

Secondly, you don’t have to finish everything on your plate. The people of Okinawa, Japan practice something called “hara hachi bu“, which translates to ‘eat until you are 80 percent full’.

Bottom line: Slow things down at the dinner table. A good exercise in mindful eating is to take 10 almonds and time yourself so you eat one almond a minute (without any other distractions such as TVs or laptops). This will help your mind and body adjust to slower eating habits.

2. Don’t drink too much liquid before/during a meal
While recent studies have argued that too much water with a meal can dilute your digestion, a glass of H2O can go a long way towards blunting your appetite and helping your weight loss goals. One clinical trial confirmed that just two glasses of water before a meal can help you consume between 75 and 90 fewer calories during that meal.

Bottom line: Over the course of 12 weeks, dieters who drank water before meals, three times per day, lost about five pounds more than dieters who did not increase their water intake. We could all benefit from more water, this is a great motivation to ensure you’re getting your daily requirement.

3. If you eat enough veggies you don’t need to add fibre
We are certainly pro-veggies don’t get us wrong, but a fibre supplement is probably the quickest way to a flatter stomach. On average North Americans only take in 16 grams of fibre a day, while Europeans consume around 22.

In a 2011 study researcher from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center examined the link between dietary fibre and visceral fat (the fat that sits deeper in the abdomen, protecting the organs).

Too much visceral fat can cause high blood pressure, diabetes and liver disease so it was good news when the study found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fibre added to the patients’ diets, there was a 3.7 percent reduction in visceral fat over five years.

Bottom line: While beans, veggies and fruits are great sources of soluble fibre, the Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends 21 to 38 grams a day for a health adult, and most aren’t getting that. Sprinkling ground flaxseed or chia seeds onto your salad or yogurt are a great place to start to boost your fibre intake as they have four grams of fibre for every tablespoon (45 mL). Ensure that you drink enough water when consuming a fibre supplement since fibre expands in the stomach. Start slowly in order to avoid bloating and gas (as your body adapts to the increase in fibre) and increase as needed. Recommended brands include Clear Fiber, Solufibre, Fiber-Tastic!, and Organic Clear Fiber.

4. Cardio burns more calories than weight training
Although you may be more inclined to hit a spin class over the weight room to shed pounds, sweat isn’t always an indication of calories (or the amount of fat) being burned. A study published in Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation compared the effects of a 4-month strength training program versus aerobic endurance training on muscle control, muscle strength and cardiovascular health in subjects with type 2 diabetes.

The results of this experiment may give all you cardio bunnies out there a big surprise: the participants in the weight room lost more than 9 percent of their body fat, while their counterparts on the treadmill lost an average of just 3 percent.

Bottom line: The metabolic equation is very simple: the more muscle tissue you have, the better your insulin sensitivity (which aids in the reduced risk of diseases from type 2 diabetes to heart disease), and the more calories you will burn, even while at rest. If you love cardio why not split your time between that and weight training the next time you’re at the gym?

5. If you eat fish you don’t need to supplement with omega-3s
When we eat fatty acids, like those in fish or fish oils, our cell membranes become more receptive to insulin. The more insulin receptors we have on the surface of our cells, the lower our insulin levels. The lower our insulin levels, the less belly fat we have. In general, one three-ounce serving of fatty fish provides one gram of omega-3s, which is roughly the amount in one fish oil capsule. Preliminary research also shows that taking six grams daily of a specific fish oil supplement significantly decreases body fat when combined with exercise.

Bottom line: Considering that to achieve the therapeutic benefits you want to consume 2-3 capsules twice daily, you can imagine how much fish that would amount to. If it didn’t increase your risk of heavy metal exposure it would certainly turn you off from fish for a while. So try combining a regular fish intake with supplements to help your decrease stomach fat and increase health.

Do you currently take a fish oil or fibre supplement?

Natasha Turner, N.D. is a naturopathic doctor, Chatelaine magazine columnist, and author of the bestselling books The Hormone Diet and The Supercharged Hormone Diet. Her newest release, The Carb Sensitivity Program, is now available across Canada. She is also the founder of the Toronto-based Clear Medicine Wellness Boutique. For more wellness advice from Natasha Turner, click here.