March 2017 Issue

7 Weight Loss Myths…Debunked

Don’t misdirect your good intentions by falling for false promises.

As warmer weather approaches, our thoughts often turn to the return of shorts season—and possibly whether last summer's shorts still fit. While weight loss myths never stop circulating, this is one of those times of year when we may be more susceptible to believing them. Here are seven weight loss myths to start ignoring right now:

veggies on a scale

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Truth: The best weight loss diet is one that is healthful and sustainable.

1. Cutting Carbs or Fat is Everything

Research shows that both lower-carb and lower-fat eating plans can be effective for weight loss overall, provided that we stay within our calorie needs, but it appears that some individuals may do better with one or the other. What’s important is finding a way of eating that helps you reach your weight goals, but is satisfying enough that you can stick with it long-term.

2. Hunger is Necessary

It’s normal to get hungry when it’s nearly time for your next meal or snack, but if you find that you are constantly hungry, it may mean that you aren’t eating enough. Or, you might simply need a better mix of complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats to help you stay satisfied longer and prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes.

3. Avoiding Gluten = Easy Weight Loss

There’s nothing magic about giving up gluten if you don’t have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. When people lose weight by going gluten-free, it's usually because they started eating more real, whole foods that are naturally gluten-free. On the other hand, swapping “regular” cookies, cakes and other refined grain products for gluten-free versions doesn’t aid weight loss.

4. Certain Foods Increase Metabolism

Metabolism is the process of converting what you eat and drink into energy. It depends largely on age, body size, gender, and genetics. Increasing muscle through physical activity and adequate protein may slightly increase your metabolism, but food and supplements make little difference. Some studies have shown a slight metabolic boost from caffeine or chili peppers, but not in everyone.

5. A Calorie is a Calorie

When it comes to calories, quality counts. Eating 100 calories of chips is not the same as eating 100 calories of walnuts or fresh fruit. As for the idea that you have to cut 3,500 calories to lose a pound, research shows that weight loss—or gain—varies from person to person even with the same calorie deficit. It also varies over time, which is one reason for weight loss plateaus.

6. It’s All about Willpower

Many factors, including genetics, dieting history, metabolism, and diet and lifestyle habits come together to determine what weight your body prefers to be at. If you try to white-knuckle your way through a diet that's too low in calories or devoid of favorite foods, you set yourself up for future overeating.

7. You Just Need to Exercise More

Unless you are a competitive athlete, your exercise doesn't burn as many calories as you think. That means it’s easy to out eat exercise. Exercise to be strong and healthy; improve your food choices to manage your weight.