Busted! 6 Common Weight Loss Myths Dispelled

Article posted in: Lifestyle
weight loss myths

Have you heard about miraculous secrets to shedding pounds overnight? You might see these claims in ads or even hear about them from friends who swear by the results they’ve experienced. But be wary–in so many cases these commonly repeated weight loss myths are anything but the hidden key to reaching your weight loss goals.

Here are the top six easy weight loss myths that could be wreaking havoc on your slim-down status:

Myth #1: Fasting is a shortcut to weight loss goals.

Fact: Not eating a couple days a week has been touted as the quick way to drop excess pounds, but simply reducing your daily calorie consumption led to greater fat loss than fasting, according to a 2014 review of published research by scientists at the University of Illinois–Chicago. Moreover, a 2015 study published in the journal Nutrition Research concluded that spreading out your calories over six daily meals and healthy snacks helps you maintain more metabolism-revving muscle mass than you do when you deprive your body of healthy food.

Myth #2: “Low-fat” or “fat-free” foods are healthier than regular versions.

Fact: Your body needs dietary fat. It’s a major source of energy and plays a major role in the absorption of several body-boosting nutrients, including vitamins A, D, K and E. Plus, it is essential to cellular function, blood clotting and muscle movement. And those trying to lose weight can thank fats for that satisfied feeling you get post-meal, which may be the very thing that stops you from overeating at the next. (Studies at Cornell have found that we tend to eat 50 percent more of foods labeled “low-fat” than the regular version of the product.) Instead of avoiding fats altogether, make sure you choose the right ones. Monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) and omega-3 fatty acids, which are liquid at room temperature, serve up some pretty sweet health benefits. MUFAs improve blood cholesterol levels, which may reduce your risk of heart disease. They may also play a role in stabilizing blood sugar, which can help keep your appetite in check and reduce your risk of developing diabetes. This fab fat can be found in nuts, avocados, olive oil and almond butter.

A type of polyunsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids may help lower cholesterol levels and support heart health. Plus, some scientists contend that these compounds may encourage the body to use fat for energy as opposed to storing it. Animal studies have suggested that omega-3s may help reduce body fat even in the absence of calorie cutting. To optimize your omega-3 intake, add fatty fish like salmon, sardines and mackerel or albacore tuna to your plate twice a week. Walnuts, canola oil, flax seeds and fortified eggs also dish out a healthy serving of this fat.

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Myth #3: If you exercise a lot, you can eat whatever you want and still lose weight fast.

Fact: Exercise is a healthy habit that can help you reach your weight-loss goals, but without reducing your daily calorie consumption your progress will be  slow at best. First, you don’t burn as many calories exercising as you might think: For a person weighing in around 185 pounds, 30 minutes of moderate-paced walking burns fewer than 180 calories, says Harvard Health Publications. That’s the calorie equivalent of  a little more than one 12 ounce can of soda. Second, a 2016 study published in the journal Current Biology found that your body begins to adapt to higher activity levels and may gradually burn fewer calories as a result.

Myth #4: To lose weight while dieting, you must get used to feeling hungry.

Fact: Your food choices dramatically affect how hungry you feel throughout the day. Foods that are high in protein or fiber, regardless of their calorie-content, tend to burn slowly and leave you feeling full longer. Even better, the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition reports that “increasing meal frequency appears to help decrease hunger and improve appetite control.” That is, eating more times a day not only reduces feelings of hunger, it helps you to control your appetite, which is essential to losing weight.

Myth #5: Snacking impedes your progress toward your weight loss goal.

Fact: For many of us, snacks can account for more than a quarter of our daily calories. But if you munch on nutrient-dense foods, you’re more likely to maintain a healthy weight, according to the results of a five-year study known as the “National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.” It revealed that healthy snackers were less likely than non-snackers to be overweight or obese.

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Myth #6: Certain “fat-burning” foods amp up weight loss.

Fact: Grapefruit, celery, coconut oil and other foods are reputed to have a “thermogenic” effect, meaning you literally burn more calories eating and digesting them than they contain. But many of these fat-burning ingredients are simply nutrient-dense foods that are low in calories and high in fiber or protein—just like most other fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. These foods are healthy components of your diet, but they don’t possess exceptional characteristics that make them better than others at helping you lose weight. A well-balanced diet that includes a wide variety of healthy foods is the foundation of steady, sustainable weight loss.