One of the most common health and fitness goals of all, fat is often proposed as the great enemy of a healthy lifestyle. However, how fat actually works in the human body, and how we can effectively reduce it when we need to is more complex than it might seem. In the struggle to maintain healthy bodies, it’s easy to make some mistakes about how, exactly, fat works and how we should manage it.
Here, we’re going to look at some of the most common mistakes we make regarding fat, and how we should think and act when trying to battle it in the future.
Not all fat is bad for you
There’s a long and complex history as to how fat (the nutrient) got its reputation, related to lobbying efforts from the sugar industry trying to effectively pass the buck. As such, one of the surprising ways nutrition can affect your health is finding out that your body relies on unsaturated fats, which are typically found in foods like olive oil. Without enough healthy fats in your diet, you can experience a weakened immune system, hormonal issues, and even hair loss.
Paying attention only to the scale
Your weight can be a helpful indication of changes in your body, but it’s far from the only way you should measure your progress. If you’re exercising, then you have to bear in mind that not only are you going to be burning fat, but you’re also going to be building muscle. What’s more, weight can fluctuate for different reasons even if you are burning fat. If you’re looking to measure your fat loss, then using a tape measure to see the overall width of your abdomen over time is a more reliable measure.
Fasting is never the solution
The laws of thermodynamics state clearly that if you burn more energy than you consume, you are going to lose weight. However, taking this to the extreme is not going to help. If you try to cut your calories too low, not only can it wreak havoc on your health, leaving you feeling lethargic, stressed, and at risk of nutrient deificencies. If you go too low, you can imbalance your blood sugars and your body can go into “starvation mode”, meaning it will hold onto fat even more tightly, making it harder to burn.
Thinking that it’s all surface deep
One of the reasons that we think about fat so much is that it accumulates so visibly in the first place. Despite ongoing body positivity movements, a lot of people still don’t like to see a lot of fat on their body. However, while managing this fat can be important for your health, it’s important that you realize that it goes deeper than the surface, too. Visceral fat is the fat that is stored inside the abdomen and surrounds organs such as the intestines, pancreas, and colon. This fat can be just as harmful, so learning how to treat visceral abdomen fat is vital. Liposuction, for instance, doesn’t reach visceral fat. Diet, exercise, and weight loss efforts are necessary.
Relying too much on “low-fat” foods
When it comes to the diet and health food industry, becoming literate enough to be able to spot a promise that’s too good to be true is difficult. There’s a lot of misleading marketing that makes you think that certain foods are healthier than they actually are. This is often true of low-fat products, which can be just as high, if not higher, in sugars or other additives that aren’t that good for your body. If you’re buying any low-fat foods, make sure that you’re able to read the labels effectively to get an idea of what you’re actually putting in your body.
Your metabolism plays a big role
Just as your body can hold onto fat if you’re eating too few calories, there are also ways to speed up just how it burns those calories as well. Your metabolism is, effectively, the rate at which you burn fat cells and there are plenty of ways to boost it. The right food choices, drinking green tea, having some (not a huge) breakfast, and adding intensity interval training sessions to your workouts can all help to boost your metabolism.
Our relationship with fat needs to be a little more nuanced to make sure that we’re taking its impacts on our health seriously. If you’re looking to build a healthier lifestyle, not just a slimmer one, then you need to keep the above points in mind.