Maybe you struggled to shed the extra pounds you put on while on vacation. Or maybe successful weight loss has eluded you for years. Don’t lose hope though. You may be doing things the wrong way.
After all, there are a lot of fad diets and myths floating around, and some of them seem downright sensible. If you follow the hype, you’ll go from crazy diet plans to weight loss supplements and back again – all with no real results to show for your efforts.
Honestly, it can be hard to separate fact from fiction in the world of weight loss diets. In this article, we are going to unravel some of the mystery about dieting and weight loss. We’ll discuss some of the most common diet myths – and give you hard facts to blow those mistakes out of the water.
Myth #1: You should be eating fat-burning foods like celery, cabbage soup, and grapefruit.
Fact: This myth has led to all sorts of crazy diet plans, including the “Master Cleanse,” the cabbage soup diet, and the grapefruit diet. People did it all, eating little more than cabbage soup or grapefruit (supplemented with some leftover lean protein). Ultimately, the results are inconsistent and never permanent.
The verdict: there is no such thing as a “fat burner” food. Certain foods will temporarily boost your metabolism (including celery and grapefruit); however, they do not cause weight loss by themselves.
Myth #2: Cut out starchy foods because they make you fat.
The Facts: Most starchy foods are actually low in fat and calories. Bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, cereals and beans are all low calorie and low fat foods. Of course, if you brush your potatoes with cream cheese and your bread with butter or mayonnaise, they sure get bigger. However, natural and whole grain starches are an important part of a healthy diet. They provide the fuel your body needs to produce energy, so cutting them off is a bad idea.
The verdict: A few servings of starch are an important part of your diet, even when trying to lose weight. Stick to whole grains, potatoes and beans, and avoid adding fatty toppings or spreads.
Myth #3: High protein/low carb diets are a good way to lose weight
The Facts: Avoid any diet that suggests removing essential elements from the diet. When you eat less than 130 grams of carbs per day, your blood builds up high levels of ketones. This leads to high levels of uric acid, which can lead to gout and kidney stones.
Plus, when you cut out carbs, most of your daily calories end up coming from protein-rich foods. Since these diets give you carte blanche to eat red meat, cheese, and other high-fat proteins, you could end up eating way too much fat and cholesterol, which can increase your risk of heart disease. .
The Verdict: A high-protein/low-carb diet may cause temporary weight loss; however, it’s just that – temporary. Plan your diet around a healthy balance of foods, including plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Myth #4: Over-the-counter weight loss supplements are a safe and effective way to lose weight.
The Facts: Because dietary supplements aren’t technically “medicine,” they aren’t held to the rigorous standards that other medications face. We guess because it’s on the shelf at our trusted local pharmacy, it must be safe to use. Unfortunately, many diet pills hit the market without ever being tested or approved by the FDA. Occasionally, if a product is seriously defective or unsafe, the FDA will issue a warning; however, for the most part the industry is unregulated.
When you read “unregulated” it also means that there is no evidence that these supplements work. A great blurb and compelling before-and-after photos may hide nothing more than an expensive placebo.
The Verdict: Just because you find it at your local pharmacy doesn’t mean it’s safe or effective. There is simply no pill or powder that can replace a healthy diet and exercise program. A supplement could speed up the process; but almost all diet pills have nasty side effects.
Myth #5: Fad diets are a great way to kick start my weight loss goals.
The Facts: Even if you’re aware of the long-term ineffectiveness of fad diets, you might be tempted to start your diet with a “grapefruit cleanse” or a “quick cabbage soup.” After all, these diets usually promise quick and impressive results. And the thing is, many of them could help you lose five or ten pounds in a week.
However, such rapid weight loss can be dangerous and may increase your risk of gallstones. Also, eating less than 800 calories a day can lead to abnormal heart rhythm, which can be fatal in some cases.
The verdict: Fad diets — even short-term ones — simply don’t provide the nutrition your body needs to sustain itself. Depriving your body of fuel and nutrients will end up doing more harm than good.
Myth #6: Low-fat or fat-free foods are a great way to eat whatever I want while losing weight.
The Facts: Low-fat or fat-free foods can be low in fat, but they’re usually high in calories. When fat is removed from a product, something else must be added to maintain the same flavor and consistency. Often, a low-fat product is loaded with sugar, flour, or starchy thickeners — and those ingredients are high in calories.
The verdict: a low-fat product is no excuse to go wild – and it certainly won’t help you lose weight. Read product labels for calorie information and stick to small portions.
Myth #7: Skipping meals is a quick and easy way to lose weight.
The Facts: Interestingly, studies have shown that people who skip meals — breakfast in particular — tend to be heavier overall. The reason: When you skip a meal, you starve for the next one and end up eating more than you should or otherwise would. So, rather than losing weight, your waistline only increases.
The verdict: don’t skip meals. In fact, four to five small, healthy meals a day can be better than three regular meals. Eating regularly helps you control your appetite and avoid unhealthy snacking.
Myth #8: Dieting isn’t necessary if you exercise a lot.
The facts: You will only lose weight if you burn enough of what you eat. You can exercise for an hour a day, but if you fill your gut three times a day with high-fat, high-calorie foods, don’t expect to see any progress.
The Verdict: Diet and exercise go hand in hand when weight loss is your goal. You can’t have one without the other, so eat a healthy, balanced diet and get regular vigorous exercise.
Remember: the most important part of losing weight is being consistent in your diet plans. You can’t be sporadic about it or you won’t see lasting results. However, if you stick to a healthy diet and exercise faithfully, you’ll see those extra pounds start to melt away, for good.