Counting calories has been a popular diet method for many years to help people lose weight. These days, there are many apps dedicated to food journals and keeping track of your calories throughout the day. Some people plan out their workouts and meals ahead of time to make sure they’re burning more calories than they’re taking in. Others fly by the seat of their skinny jeans and plan meal by meal throughout the day, while penciling in the occasional trip to the gym. The best part of calorie counting is knowing how many calories you burned after some heart pumping workouts. However, there are a few calorie-burning myths that might have you heading back to that food journal to make some difficult adjustments. Here are 6 calorie-burning myths that we have debunked.
1. Six small meals vs. Three square meals: While most of us were raised with the notion that we should eat three square meals each day, many people now believe that it’s better to eat smaller portions more frequently in order to help keep your metabolism working. But does constantly snacking really burn more calories? A recent study found no differences in weight loss among dieters who ate three or six times a day. However, researchers did note that eating more frequently may help keep between-meal hunger pains at bay. You should settle on an eating plan that keeps you satisfied and full so you’re less likely to binge due to hunger.
2. Working out in cold weather burns more calories: Don’t you think the northern states would be littered with runners and walkers in the dead of winter if this were true? It’s more like half true. Because shivering from cold temperatures revs up calorie burn, you will torch more as your body works harder to heat itself up. However, this calorie-burning myth is up for debate as in hot weather you will surely sweat more while exercising. When the temperature plummets, be smart and bundle up because the miniscule bump in calorie burn isn’t worth increasing your risk of getting sick.
3. Foods with negative calories: Some foods that take more energy to digest than they contain are known as negative calorie foods. However, the calories you need for digestion won’t ever exceed the number of calories any type of food contains. This calorie-burning myth is only semi true in that there are zero calorie foods, but no actual negative calorie foods. However, non-starchy, low-calorie veggies can still help you lose weight since their fiber and water content will keep you feeling full for longer.
4. Cardio on an empty stomach: This is a calorie-burning myth believed by many people and needs to be debunked. If you exercise on an empty stomach, you will actually burn more muscle than fat, and you will most likely not have the energy to really get in a good workout. Exercising on an empty stomach vs. a full one comes down to personal preference and how you feel during your fitness routine. You may burn more calories from fat if you exercise after a snack, but it ultimately doesn’t matter because if you burn more fat during a workout, your body physiologically adjusts to burn less fat post-exercise. The bottom line is that to eat or not to eat before a workout is a personal preference, but having some food in your stomach will give you energy to power through and give it your all.
5. To lose weight you have to burn 250 calories per workout: Losing weight isn’t about the set number of calories you burn, but rather the calories expedited verses the calories you take in through food. What you do over the course of a week has a greater impact than focusing on the day-to-day. This means if you’re not feeling well one day and skip a workout; it won’t make a big difference in the long run. Focusing on the calories you burn compared to the calories you eat is the best way to lose weight.
6. All calories are created equal: Don’t we wish! This calorie-burning myth would mean that 100 calories of chocolate cake is the same as 100 calories of carrots- which is clearly untrue. Your body burns nearly 50% more calories after eating a meal packed with whole foods versus an equivalent meal made of processed fare. Your health as well as your weight loss depends on the nutritional value of foods you eat, not just the amount of calories in them.