A lot has been learned about the science of losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight over the years, but not everyone is caught up on the latest information. That has created some misconceptions about weight loss that might sound true but couldn’t be further from the truth.
The countless fad diets and unscrupulous “fitness experts” hawking their special meal plans have also helped to give many of these misconceptions life. This article will explore some basic nutrition information and debunk some of the more common myths surrounding weight loss.
Thirteen Popular Misconceptions About Weight Loss
Let’s dive into our list of myths surrounding weight loss and go over why they are false:
1) Snacking Leads To Weight Gain
Enjoying a snack between meals is actually good for you if your snack consists of healthy foods. Many weight loss experts recommend eating up to five meals daily, so you can upgrade your snack to a healthy meal without negatively impacting your weight loss journey.
Eating several meals a day makes it less likely that you overeat or binge during meals. Stick to healthy foods, and the weight will come right off your frame regardless of how many times you eat per day. Examples of healthy snacks include nuts, seeds, whole grains, and fruit. Avoid unhealthy snacks like oily chips or sweets.
2) Carbohydrates Are Bad For Weight Loss
Low-carb or zero-carb diets are often recommended for people looking to lose weight, but science tells us there’s no need to remove all carbs from your diet to lose weight. The main types of carbohydrates people looking to lose weight should avoid are refined carbohydrates linked to health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Examples of refined carbohydrates include baked goods, waffles, and bagels.
Refined carbohydrates are stripped of nutrients and fiber, leaving you with empty calories that can lead to weight gain, especially around your midsection.
Feel free to enjoy healthy carbs from whole grains like millet, quinoa, oats, and barley, and fruits like bananas, grapefruit, and apples that help protect against heart disease and blood pressure, while giving your body the carbohydrates it needs for energy.
Fruits aren’t the first thing to come to most people’s minds when they think of carbohydrates, but many, like oranges, blueberries, and bananas, are excellent sources of good, healthy carbs. Many of these fruits also contain essential micronutrients like vitamin C and antioxidants that help eliminate toxic compounds in the body. Roots that contain complex carbohydrates, like sweet potatoes, are also healthy sources of carbohydrates.
3) You Need To Eliminate Fat From Your Diet To Lose Weight
This misconception was likely created by medical experts once deeming all fats bad. A lot more is now known about fats, and it turns out many types of fat are good for your body. There’s only one type of fat you should try to avoid at all costs: trans fat. It is a typically manufactured type of fat created by the industrial process of adding hydrogen atoms to fat molecules to solidify them.
4) Dieting Requires You To Stop Eating Your Favorite Foods
Some dieters feel guilty whenever they have a delicious meal and assume it must be bad for them. Many people think the word “diet” automatically means forcing yourself to eat things you don’t like. The truth is you can enjoy most of your favorite meals, including restaurant food while trying to lose weight.
The key is understanding your daily caloric needs and the nutritional value of foods. Your diet plan should revolve around your lifestyle and many of the foods you regularly consume. The more enjoyable your diet is, the more likely you’ll stick to it for a long time.
To build a diet plan that will work for you, examine your diet and estimate the nutritional value of your favorite meals. Once you know how many calories you get from these meals, you can restructure your other meals for those days so you still have a caloric deficit.
For example, let’s say you love pizza and must have them. Each slice of pizza contains about 285 calories, and you want to eat about four slices. Your diet requires you to consume no more than 2,000 calories daily; consuming four slices gives you 1140 calories. You then have 860 calories left for your remaining two meals. That means you’ll need to eat a low-calorie breakfast and lunch on days you want to consume some pizza.
Many nutritionists recommend having cheat days, so feel free to explore that option as well. Cheat days increase leptin production by up to 30 percent, increasing your metabolism and causing your body to burn more calories.
So choose a day a week you get to enjoy whatever you want. Ideally, you want it to be a training day, but the most important thing is to make it one of the days you’re more likely to struggle with your diet. For example, if you have weekly family gatherings once a week where lots of food is on the table, make that your cheat day, so you’re not looking sad while everyone else is having a great time eating up all the food.
5) Diet Pills, Crash Diets, And Surgery Is The Best Way To Lose Weight
Nope. That’s not how this works. A low-calorie crash diet might help you lose weight quickly, but you’ll gain the weight back just as quickly since it’s not something anyone can stick to long-term. This approach also involves starving yourself, which can lead to the breakdown of muscle tissues. Starving yourself can also lead to nutritional deficiencies, which in turn can lead to health issues.
Instead of starving yourself or taking diet pills linked to serious health issues like damaged heart valves, aim to eat a balanced diet you enjoy. That’s the only way to lose weight and keep it off. You need to change the eating habits that made you overweight and incorporate healthier foods into your lifestyle. Getting the weight off you is only half the battle; you need a diet that allows you to stay at a healthy weight. Add an exercise program to your diet for the best results.
6) What You Eat Doesn’t Matter As Long As You Reach A Caloric Deficit Daily
A caloric deficit is only part of a diet that helps you lose weight. The foods you consume play a role; they can be the difference between losing or gaining eight. You need to get all your macros to be energetic. That means getting enough protein, carbohydrates, and fats in your diet. You should also aim to eat foods that contain essential vitamins and minerals your body needs, like calcium, B vitamins, and magnesium. The more your body has everything it needs to power all its systems, the faster you’ll lose weight.
Consuming healthy foods regularly should be the main bulk of your diet. As a bonus, the healthier your meals are, the more food you’ll be able to eat, keeping you feeling full for longer and reducing your cravings for unhealthy foods.
7) Weight Loss Is A Linear Process
That misconception often leads people to wrongly believe their weight loss diet isn’t effective. Losing weight isn’t linear, so don’t expect to lose the same amount of weight each week. That’s not how it works.
Expect your weight to fluctuate a lot during your weight loss journey. One week you might lose a few pounds, while you don’t lose anything the next or even gain some weight. That’s all perfectly normal, so don’t let it get to you. Instead, stick to your diet and exercise program, and you’ll eventually lose weight consistently.
8) Healthy Foods Are Too Expensive
You might have to learn how to make some new meals and spend more time in the kitchen, but it’s not that difficult to eat healthy on a budget. Many whole-food grains like brown rice are inexpensive, and the same can be said about most fruits and vegetables.
Things start to get expensive when you’re explicitly checking for organic products like grass-fed beef, but you don’t have to spend money on such things. Focus on healthy produce and meats you can afford, and you’ll find enough products to make enough meals for each week. It might even save you some money since many unhealthy foods like pizza are just as expensive. The price of one in many places could easily get you a basket full of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Other simple things you can do to save money include:
- Try to buy most of the things you consume when they’re on sale.
- Purchases fruits and vegetables seasonally. Both items freeze very well.
- Make a list before you go to the grocery store and stick to it. Find a similarly priced alternative if you can’t find all the items on your list.
- Purchase canned fruits and vegetables if fresh produce is more expensive where you live. The nutritional values are similar, so make sure anything you buy doesn’t have added salt or sugar.
9) You Need To Eat Gluten-Free Products To Lose Weight
Only people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease need to avoid gluten – a protein found in grains like rye, barley, and wheat. Wholewheat products have many nutritional benefits, like their high fiber and vitamin B content. Don’t take them out of your diet unless you fall into the above mentioned category.
Those who are intolerant to gluten should look for gluten-free products with no additional refined starches, salt, or sugar. These things are often added to gluten-free items to improve their flavor profile.
10) Late-Night Snacking Leads To Weight Gain
Late-night snacking doesn’t necessarily have a negative effect on weight loss. When you eat isn’t what decides whether you gain or lose weight, it’s what you eat and why you’re eating it. Emotional eating is a thing, and many people habitually reach out for late-night snacks even when they aren’t hungry. That can definitely lead to weight gain.
However, eating late at night when you’re hungry isn’t necessarily bad. Hunger sometimes signifies that your body needs more nutrients, so feel free to enjoy a late-night snack if you’re hungry, especially if you know you’ll still have a caloric deficit.
11) Fat-Free And Low-Fat Products Are Healthier
It’s not surprising that many believe this myth because it sounds reasonable. Most people have heard fat is terrible for them at some point in their lives (not all fats are bad), so they naturally view low-fat or fat-free products as healthier alternatives.
The problem with low-fat and fat-free products is that they often contain added sodium or sugar to improve their flavor since removing fat from anything affects its flavor profile.
That’s not the only reason you should avoid fat-free or low-fat products. Fat takes longer to digest than carbohydrates and protein, so it keeps you feeling full for longer periods. There’s no need to try to remove fat from your diet. Just consume products that only contain healthy mono and polyunsaturated fat.
12) Unrefined Sugars Like Honey Are Healthy
If this were true, life would be much easier for people on diets. We could all satisfy our sweet tooth while losing weight. That’s not how your body works though. From your body’s perspective, sugar is sugar, so the fact that unrefined sugars contain some minerals and vitamins doesn’t make them any better than refined sugar.
You should keep your sugar intake to a minimum while looking to lose weight since it gives you mostly empty calories and blood sugar spikes that can leave you craving more sugar. Feel free to use artificial sugars to improve the sweetness of foods and beverages. Don’t overdo it since artificial sugars also come with issues like being linked to heart disease.
13) You Can’t Have Any Candy On A Diet
Many big-name candy manufacturers now make sugar-free alternatives so you can still indulge your sweet tooth on a diet. Some of these are so good you won’t even notice they are sugar-free if no one told you. Look for healthy alternatives if you have a sweet tooth. You can also substitute healthy nuts like almonds for sweets.
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