Losing weight is never easy, and it is made that much harder by all of the myths and misinformation there is out there about dieting and weight loss. In this post, we will bust the ten most common myths about weight loss, diet, and exercise.
- Eating Fats Make You Fat
Fat has more calories per gram than carbs and protein, and that might be where this myth came from, but fats serve the purpose of helping you to stay fuller, longer. But stick with “healthy” fats such as unsaturated fats like avocado, olive oil, and nuts. Of course, if you eat a bunch of fat outside your total caloric daily needs, you will gain weight. But fat is an important component of a healthy diet, and moderate amounts of fat intake are necessary to build cells and provide energy to your body.
- Carbs Make You Put on Weight
Eaten in the right quantities and as part of a balanced diet, carbohydrates will not, on their own — meaning without butter, creamy sauces, and so on added to them – do not in and of themselves necessarily lead to weight gain. Eat whole-grain carbohydrates such as brown rice and dark grain breads and potatoes with the skins on to increase your intake of fiber, and don’t fry starchy foods when trying to lose weight.
- Intense Exercise Is the Only Way to Lose Weight
This is a very common weight loss myth, and it is simply not true. Successful weight loss involves making small changes that you can stick to for a long time. That means being more physically active in your daily routine. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of physical activity – such as fast walking or cycling – every week, and those who are overweight are likely to need more than this to lose weight. But that does not all have to be intense workouts in a gym. Use the stairs instead of the elevator, walk the dog, wash the car, even making love burns calories!
- A Calorie Is a Calorie
All calories are equal is another common diet misconception. Knowing how many calories you’re eating is important when you’re trying to lose weight, but so is the type of calories you’re having. A calorie is not just a calorie. Macronutrients like protein, fat, and carbohydrates do different things in the body and have different functions, and you need to eat a balanced combination of all of them for your body to function optimally. For example, two hundred calories of white bread slavered with butter will make you feel (and look!) very different than if you have 200 calories of whole-wheat toast with almond butter.
- Healthier Foods Cost More Than “Junk” Food
It may seem that healthier foods are more expensive than their unhealthier alternatives. However, if you try replacing ingredients with healthier alternatives, you’ll probably find your meals will work out costing less. For example, choosing cheaper cuts of meat and mixing it with cheaper alternatives such as beans, pulses, and frozen veg will make it go further in casseroles or stir-fries.
- Starving is the best way to lose weight
While there is evidence that fasting, when done right, has several health benefits going full-on “starvation mode” with a crash diet may pull off some pounds right away but is unlikely to result in long-term weight loss. In fact, they can sometimes lead to longer-term weight gain. The main problem is that this type of “starvation diet” is too hard to maintain. You may also be missing out on essential nutrients as crash diets can be limited in the variety of food consumed. Your body will be low on energy which may cause you to crave high-fat and high-sugar foods. This can lead to eating those foods and more calories than you need, causing weight gain. Also, the lack of energy will limit your physical activity, which will only make it harder to lose.
- Eating at Night Will Make You Gain Weight
Like eating at any other time, it is not when you eat but what you eat. Sure, if you pig out on pizza or fried chicken wings just before bedtime, you will gain weight, but if you are hungry after dinner and before you go to bed, choose a light salad, yogurt with granola, or other healthy alternatives, you should be just fine.
- If You Just Work Out Enough, You Can Eat Whatever You Want
There is a common myth that you can “out-exercise” a poor diet. Of course, exercise is an important part of weight loss, but you can easily torpedo your efforts by eating foods high in calories and low in nutrition, like processed snacks, fried meats, and sugary drinks – and thinking you can just work that all off in the gym. The truth is that it is extremely hard to overcome a poor diet with exercise because you can only burn so many calories at a time, and exercise cannot make up for the poor nutrition of a “junk food” based diet.
- There Are Foods the can “Increase Metabolism”
Metabolism is a biological process by which your body turns the fats and proteins in the food you eat into energy for your cells. Metabolism is a complex process regulated by several hormones. There have been claims that certain foods can “boost metabolism,” but there is very little scientific evidence to back up such claims, and most of these products contain high levels of caffeine and sugar.
- Foods Labelled “low fat” or “Reduced Fat” Are Always a Healthy Choice
This is a big one. Be cautious. Foods labeled “low fat” have to contain no more than a specific amount of fat to legally use that label. If a food is labeled as “low-fat” or “reduced-fat,” it should contain less fat than the full-fat version, but that doesn’t automatically make it a healthy choice. You need to check the label to see how much fat it contains. Some low-fat foods may also contain high levels of sugar.