Weight loss is a science.
It's a complicated and imperfect one, but it's still a science, which is why it's best to follow what research says if you want to successfully achieve your goals.
Of course, that's much easier said than done, especially when we're constantly bombarded with tons of conflicting information.
Plus, we're all extremely unique individuals, and the fact that the reverberating answer to many questions about exercise, diet, and weight loss is, "It depends on your goals," doesn't help to make the situation any easier.
To make it even more complicated, most research can't definitively say for sure that, "Yes, this is the exact answer."
But it can tell us what is likely true and help to point us in the right direction.
Here's what recent science has to say about some of the most commonly misunderstood ideas about weight loss.
Myth: Exercising in the fat-burning zone burns more fat.
"Stop wasting time doing exercise in a 'fat-burning zone,'"says Shawn M. Talbott, Ph.D., a nutritional biochemist and the author of over 200 articles and 10 books on nutrition, fitness, and wellness. "This tends to be lower intensity exercise with the intention of optimizing fat metabolism, but it is actually a waste of time because you could be burning twice the number of calories in the same amount of time or the same number of calories in half the time with a regimen of higher-intensity interval training." One study from 2002 found that cyclists burned fat at the highest rate when exercising at a level equivalent to 74 percent of their maximum heart rate and another from 2004 that compared 30 minutes of running and cycling at three different intensities (55, 65, and 75 percent of VO2 max) found that the highest rate of fat burn occurred at 75 percent VO2 max.
Myth: Diet soda is better for weight loss.
"Research shows drinking diet soda is more likely to cause weight gain than non diet soda and may lead to health problems including diabetes and heart disease," says Holly Stokes, a certified Hypnotherapist and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Practitioner and author of A Lighter You! Train Your Brain to Slim Your Body. According to WebMD, eight years of data collected by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio found that a person's risk for being overweight increased by 41 percent for every can or bottle of diet soft drink consumed each day.