The very first thing we have to talk about is the prevalence of body dysmorphia in fitness. You would think that as you lose weight and as you develop a more athletic-looking body you’ll become happier with the way you look, which will increase confidence in all other areas of your life.
And even though, yes – many level-headed people will experience these amazing benefits from dieting and exercising, I know first-hand how easy it is to get suck into the mindset that your body is never good enough.
Some of the most unconfident, socially awkward, and self-critical people that I’ve ever met have been bodybuilders and physique competitors with amazing-looking bodies.
Most people would kill to have a body like the really fit-looking people that you see in magazines and competitions.
But little do you know that any slight flaw that many of these fit people perceive on their bodies become drastically magnified, and that creates massive amounts of stress in their lives.
These issues can be as silly as stressing over your bicep being 17 inches, instead of 18 inches. Also, keep in mind that if this obsession over minor imperfections, or even sometimes non-existing flaws, affect bodybuilders, they can also affect regular people that just want to get into better shape.
Even though the data shows that only about 2.5 percent of males and 2.2 percent of females in the United States live with body dysmorphic disorder, (1) the prevalence of body dysmorphia is much higher for regular gym-goers.
This is shown by a cross-sectional study (2) where researchers found that almost 40 percent of the regular gym participants surveyed were at risk of body dysmorphia. (3)
That’s astonishing, especially since this is a fixation that significantly interferes with daily life and can lead to depression as well as unhealthy choices like crash dieting, bulimia, and abusing steroids.
So do your best to keep a level head and set achievable goals that prioritize your health at least as much if not more than your aesthetics.
#2 Post weight loss excess skin
A downside about weight loss that you don’t typically hear about is the problem with excess skin. When you gain a lot of body fat, your skin becomes stretched.
If it stays like that for a long period of time, it loses some of its elastic components, leading to loose skin after someone gets rid of a substantial amount of weight.
Keep in mind not everyone will have excess skin after losing weight. Factors like genetics, age, the length of time that you were carrying around the excess body fat, and the total weight that you lost, all play a role in what your skin looks like afterward.
Typically, people that have either carried the excess fat around for many years, or people that lose a lot of weight like a hundred pounds or more, will be both at higher risk for developing saggy skin.
One of the best natural preventative measures that you can take for loose skin happens to be weight training. So make sure that you include resistance training as a part of your weight loss workout plan, rather than just dieting and performing cardio.
You should know that there are also many claims about konjac root having appetite-suppressing effects. Unfortunately, more studies are needed to confirm this.
But if it does help suppress appetite on top of being really low in calories, then it could really help with fat loss even more, especially if you find yourself hungry throughout the day.
Another fact that you won’t really hear about is that dieting in a restrictive way or becoming too lean can cause reproductive issues including, but not limited to, erectile dysfunction.
In fact, if you’re one of the many people that has searched for “how to get under 8, 7, or even 6 percent body fat”, I can pretty much guarantee you that if you’re successful at getting that lean, things downstairs aren’t going to be working quite the same.
That is at least until you bring your body fat percentage back up to a sustainable level.
Of course, being overweight or obese is bad for reproductive health as well, because excess body fat raises estrogen and reduces testosterone. But very few people know that being too lean can do the same.
For example, in a study that examined the hormonal profiles of male bodybuilders for six months before and after their competition (4), the participants were able to reduce their body fat percentage from an average of 14.8 percent to 4.5 percent. (5)
At the same time, testosterone levels declined from 9.22 nanograms per milliliter to 2.27 nanograms per milliliter.
Anything below 2.5 is considered low testosterone. (6) This is why natural bodybuilders usually have no-sex-drive weeks and sometimes months before getting on stage, and this often pairs with erectile dysfunction.
The good news, according to the same study, is that testosterone levels “returned back to the baseline level of 9.91 nanograms per milliliter, during the weeks and months following the competition.” (7) So, the adverse effects are not permanent.
But, unless you’re aiming to compete, you might want to avoid going too low in body fat percentage.
Instead, if you’re a man, aim for a range of around 8 to 14 percent body fat. Whereas if you’re a woman, you should aim for at least 14 to 20 percent body fat.
Also, in general, for optimal hormonal health make sure that you’re eating enough fats when you diet. Never allow your fat intake to drop below 20% of your total calorie intake.
#4 Slower metabolism… who?
Despite general misconception, overweight people do not actually have a “slower” metabolism.
Way too many people believe that skinny people are “genetically blessed” because they have a “fast” metabolism. Meanwhile heavier people are “genetically cursed” because they have a “slow” metabolism.
This is complete and utter nonsense. In fact, it’s the opposite. Research indicates that the heavier you are, the higher your resting metabolic rate tends to be. (8)
So, overweight people actually have a faster metabolism than people that maintain a lighter weight. This makes a lot of sense if you think about it – the more mass you have, the more energy your body will require to maintain it and move around.
#5 Be aware of injuries risk
The next fact that no one tells you is that the more time you spend consistently exercising, the more likely you are to run into an injury.
Unfortunately, no amount of stretching, mobility work, or perfecting your form can fully prevent this risk. To give you a better idea, we can look at some stats.
For example, between 1990 and 2007, data shows that over 970,000 people were treated in emergency rooms for weight training-related injuries. (9) Out of those people, 114 of them died. (10)
Of course, this isn’t intended to scare you – 114 deaths over the course of 17 years is insignificant. So you’re almost definitely not going to die while lifting weights.
Some form of injury is nevertheless likely. It’s estimated that almost 460,000 people were injured while exercising or using exercise equipment in the year of 2012 alone. (11)
When it comes to strength training specifically, the chances of sustaining an injury while weightlifting can be measured at rate of 2.4–3.3 injuries per 1,000 training hours. (12) If you’re training about 5 hours a week, you’ll hit 1,000 training hours within 4 to 5 years. So you should almost expect some form of minor injury over that time length.
Now this isn’t saying that you shouldn’t exercise, because you create massive risks of injury in everyday life if you don’t. Ordinary situations (like walking up a flight of stairs or lifting something off the floor) are more likely to lead to an injury if you let yourself become physically deconditioned by avoiding exercise.
#6 Cardio is not the (only) answer
Another major fact about losing weight that most people don’t know is that cardio is not the most effective way to lose weight. For example, a meta-analysis of 14 studies involving a little under 2,000 overweight and obese people found that isolated aerobic exercise or cardio, was not an effective weight loss therapy. (11) (13)
Another meta-analysis, one that mostly examined cardio, found that adding cardio to a diet plan did not increase weight loss more than simply dieting without doing any cardio at all. The difference in weight loss was 0.3 kilograms, which is meaningless. (14)
Now there are a couple of reasons why cardio doesn’t tend to be ideal for weight loss. One is that it “constrains energy expenditure”, which means that it causes people to reduce their general activity levels and energy expenditure throughout the rest of the day. This could void the efforts and calories burned during cardio.
Resistance training, on the other hand, tends not to cause constrained energy expenditure, which is why it’s generally more effective for weight loss and body composition in general.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do any cardio. Just understand that, based on evidence, resistance training tends to be more effective for losing weight, and keeping it off.
#7 Micronutrients do count
Another thing that no one seems to tell people who are trying to lose weight is that your intake of micronutrients, which are vitamins and minerals, are crucial for weight loss, just like macronutrients.
You probably heard many times that losing weight is all about burning more calories than you consume, which is true. To lose weight, you must be in a calorie deficit. But doesn’t this mean that micronutrients are irrelevant? Absolutely not!
Vitamins and minerals play an important role in body weight management. That’s because they are, in one way or another, involved in processes related to your body composition.
Let’s take a look at zinc for example. Not getting enough of this mineral can reduce thyroid functionality. This in turn can prevent weight loss by slowing down your metabolism.
And if you’re zinc deficient, this effect could be significant. For example, in a study someone with a zinc deficiency increased their resting metabolic rate by 527 calories per day simply by fixing their deficiency. (3)
So, yes – at the end of the day, losing weight is about burning more calories than you consume. But to achieve this, consuming enough micronutrients, including zinc, is vital.
Another example is calcium. This mineral helps your body burn fat for fuel, which is why some data indicates it might aid fat loss and help you prevent regaining lost pounds.
Another weight-loss fact that most people don’t realize is that not all forms of stress make you fat. It’s very common to believe that stress causes fat gain, but stress alone doesn’t make you fat.
In fact, acute stress may even assist with fat loss since acute stress tends to reduce hunger. This makes sense since it activates the fight-or-flight system.
When that’s activated, your body is more “worried about staying alive” than consuming food, which leads to a reduction in hunger.
It’s chronic stress that you have to be worried about, because it depletes your willpower, making it harder to stay on track with your diet.
Chronic stress is more likely to make you reach for junk food, because junk food stimulates the production of “feel-good” opioids. These lower cortisol by inhibiting something known as the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis.
So, people that are in a constant state of stress self-medicate with unhealthy foods to cope, causing them to take in too many calories.
If you’re struggling with chronic stress, consider adding a daily mediation routine, since it’s been proven to be highly beneficial for chronic stress.
#9 Steroids aren’t the answer
Last but not least is the fact that steroids are a lot more prevalent in the gym than you might think. And many people that are interested in losing fat end up trying steroids without realizing that they can cause severe side effects, especially if they’re used incorrectly.
It’s estimated that 2.9 to 4 million Americans have used steroids between the ages of 13 to 50 (12). Most beginners associate steroids with muscle growth, and not fat loss.
But research shows that when you create an androgen deficiency, by reducing hormones like testosterone for example, you end up increasing body fat. On the other hand, if you increase testosterone, it’ll have the opposite effect and assist with fat loss. (11)
But even though many people are aware of the adverse physiological effects that can happen in response to using steroids, fewer people are aware of the psychological effects that they can have.
For example, research suggests that about 32 percent of people who take steroids become dependent on the drug.
Most people also don’t realize that it’s common for steroid users to experience withdrawal symptoms when quitting steroids, and sometimes the symptoms are severe. They can include things like fatigue, loss of appetite, restlessness, insomnia, reduced confidence, reduced sex drive and other sexual issues.
On top of that research shows that withdrawal can also cause depression leading to all kinds of other issues. (15) The worst part is that steroid use can cause long-lasting or even permanent damage to the endocrine system.
This could make someone dependent on steroids for the rest of their life, or they will experience consequences like low libido and erectile dysfunction.
So those are the 9, rarely talked about, facts regarding weight loss. If you enjoyed this article, and if you want extra coaching with your diet, or workout plan, make sure to click the link below to take the next step toward a healthier and better-looking physique.
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- “In the United States, BDD occurs in about 2.5% in males, and in 2.2 % of females.”
- The rate of body dysmorphia is even larger among gym-goers, as shown by a cross-sectional study involving 1,711 participants published in PLoS One.
- “38.5% of the regular gym goers were found at risk of BDD.”
- What fewer people know, however, is that being too lean also can cause issues. For example, one study examined drug-free male bodybuilders for six months before their competition and afterward.
- “Percent body fat declined from 14.8% to 4.5% during preparation”
- “Testosterone declined from 9.22 to 2.27 ng/mL during preparation”
- “returned back to the baseline level, 9.91 ng/mL, after competition.”
- “1.0–4.4 injuries/1000 hours of training in powerlifting.”
- Between 1990 and 2007, over 970,000 people were treated in emergency rooms for weight training-related injuries.
- From 1990 to 2007, 114 people died from using free weights and weight machines.
- It is estimated that 459,978 people were injured while exercising or using exercise equipment in 2012.
- “The injury incidence in weightlifting was 2.4–3.3 injuries/1000 hours of training”
- Exercise equipment causes injuries to approximately 16,500 children between 5 years old and 14 years old annually.
- “We estimated that among Americans currently age 13-50 years, 2.9-4.0 million have used AAS.”
- Research indicates that withdrawal from steroids can also cause depression and thereby sometimes lead to suicide attempts.