Weight loss is a hot topic these days. With obesity ever on the rise, many are looking for ways to battle the bulge. There are television shows, quick-fix diets, pills and thousands of self-help books written on the subject. Amidst all of the information out there, including that which is on the Internet, things can get really confusing. It can be really hard to sort out myth from fact. However, understanding just what works will help propel you along your journey towards weight loss and better health.
Let’s look at some popular myths about weight loss that have no scientific evidence to support them.
Myth # 1. You can lose weight by increasing water intake and still drinking sugar-sweetened drinks
Water is vital for life, and it is a zero-calorie drink. Most of us are in a constant state of mild dehydration on account of not drinking enough water, so we can definitely benefit from drinking extra water. However, water can only help with weight loss if you drop sugar-sweetened beverages from your menu.
Many weight loss programs insist that you drink at least 64 oz. of water or even more. Water can, in fact, have many health benefits like relieving headaches, reducing the risk of kidney stones, improving skin tone and even preventing constipation. However, there’s no evidence to show that extra water intake can result in weight loss unless you substitute other sweetened or alcoholic beverages with it.
Myth # 2. Eating between meals causes weight gain
Strict mealtimes 3 – 4 times a day and no snacking between them can be the prescription for weight loss program, but it will most likely have the opposite effect.
If you feel really hungry between meals, it is wiser to have a healthy snack. Otherwise, you could be thoroughly famished by the next meal time, and typically overeat. A protein or fiber-rich mid-morning snack has been shown to reduce food intake during the mid-day meal.
Myth # 3. Eating breakfast prevents weight gain
Dieters are often advised to have a good breakfast. That’s because skipping breakfast can make people extremely hungry by the time they get to eat next, and can result in bingeing. But, if you are not hungry in the morning, you don’t need to force yourself to eat breakfast under the mistaken notion that it prevents weight gain.
A filling healthy breakfast only helps you to stave off hunger, but a snack can do that just fine. A heavy, unhealthy breakfast can even cause weight gain if it does not lead to wise food choices in the following meals. What really matters is the nature of calories consumed during the day rather than the time of day you consumed them.
Myth # 4. Adding fruit and vegetables to your existing (unhealthy) diet will help you drop weight
This is another weight loss myth in the line of drinking water to lose weight. If you’re just supplementing your regular unhealthy diet with fruit and vegetables, it may not help you lose weight. If you are still eating highly refined and fast food, fruit and veggies may not help you much.
However, vegetables and fruit contain plenty of fiber which helps fill the stomach as they swell up absorbing water. If the resulting sense of satiety keeps you from eating other calorie-rich foods, you can expect some weight loss. Replace unhealthy foods with low calorie – high fiber vegetables and fruit and watch the pounds melt off.
Myth # 5. Quick weight loss is not sustainable
When it comes to weight loss, “slow and steady” may not be winning the race. After a few weeks of weight loss, your body may start resisting all your attempts by reducing energy expenditure through various ways. Rapid weight loss can sometimes help people avoid such plateaus and reach their target weight.
Maintaining the weight loss is another ball game altogether, and it can be just as challenging whether you lost weight gradually or rapidly. If you have been large all your life and suddenly lose weight, your body may struggle to put the weight back on as a kind of self-preservation move.
Myth # 6. You can be obese and healthy
There was this notion stirred up a while back that you can be obese and healthy. Unfortunately, the likelihood of this is very slim. Being obese, especially if you have a lot of fat around your midsection, can put one at a much higher risk of some very dangerous medical conditions such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes. A recent study found that being overweight – even with no evidence of metabolic syndrome, left you with a much higher risk of heart disease compared to the same metabolic readings without obesity. So, clearly, being obese does impact your health.
Myth # 7. Obese people lack willpower
This is a common belief held by lean people who may falsely assume that they remain lean by their own active effort. Even overweight people end up believing they lack willpower when they fail repeatedly to take off the pounds.
Many factors like metabolic and hormonal disorders that are not in the control of an individual can cause obesity. Moreover, it is extremely difficult to get rid of extra pounds when your body is resisting your every attempt with counter strategies.
If you are overweight, it is a good idea to keep a food diary and emotion journal that will help you come to understand what is driving your weight and inability to drop pounds. Being in touch with yourself and your choices can help your efforts tremendously.
Myth # 8. The key to effective weight loss is diet pills
Although the diet pill industry would have you believe that you can’t lose any weight without taking a pill, this could not be further from the truth. The reality is that many diet pills may work in the short term but can cause damage and are generally ineffective over time. Many of the ingredients in diet pills can shock your body into weight loss and this is never healthy. The best and most effective weight loss happens through sound nutrition and an active lifestyle.
Myth # 9. Cut off fats and carbohydrates from the diet to lose weight
We have seen many low-carb, low-fat diets come and go without making so much as a dent in the global obesity problem. It has been experimentally proven that healthy dietary fats such as coconut oil do not contribute to fat deposits in the body. Diabetics and people with insulin resistance may benefit from avoiding too many carbohydrates, but moderate amounts of healthy carbs and healthy fats should be part of a balanced diet. Fat is necessary for a number of very important bodily functions.
Myth # 10. You have to starve to lose weight
There is a very strange misconception that you actually have to starve yourself in order to lose weight. Interestingly enough, most obese people are actually malnourished and are not eating enough calories that the body can use as energy. Without energy calories, fat can’t be burned. Eating the right foods means you can eat more of them. In fact, some people claim that they can’t initially eat all that they should in order to loose weight. Keep in mind that the more wholesome and higher quality food you consume, the more you can eat as it provides all the right energy for the body to regulate.
Myth # 11. All weight loss diets are destined to fail
Depending on how you have lost your weight, a healthy diet and clean lifestyle, generally will keep the pounds from coming back. Many people may gain part of the weight they have lost, but statistics show that 50-65% people manage to keep off at least 5-10% of their original weight even after 8 years. This is good news because the health benefits of even 10% weight loss can make it worthwhile.
Most weight loss programs are geared towards attaining a super thin body, but the concept of ideal weight and figure keeps changing, and may not be a guarantee for good health. What is more important is aiming for a healthy and well-toned body by following a wholesome diet and staying active.
Tips for Healthy Weight Loss
Here are some easy to follow tips to help you drop the weight and keep it off for good!
Depend on healthy, wholesome diet for weight management
Laboratory experiments and clinical studies have shown that eating a whole food diet can actually help with weight loss. However, healthy eating is not about cutting off whole food groups like carbs or fats from the diet. They have been part of our diet for thousands of years. The major change that has happened in recent years––concurrent with the rise in obesity––is the highly processed nature of the foods we eat.
Refined flour is one of the most harmful processed foods to avoid. The refining process strips the grains of all the good parts, and leaves us with empty calories, not to mention the chemical residues that come from the refining processes. Many packaged whole grain flours are no better since they are nothing but refined flour to which bran is added later on. Get your carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits and gluten-free whole grains that you can eat with the least amount of processing.
Fats carry some of the most important vitamins and have other structural and functional roles in the body. Natural dietary fats that come with grass-fed animal protein, eggs, nuts and seeds and healthy oils such as avocados and coconuts are not harmful but artificially synthesized hydrogenated oils are. Avoid foods containing them.
Sugar and artificial sweeteners are food additives that do more harm than good. Cutting off sugar from the diet alone can help with weight loss. Avoid all sugary beverages and snacks. Satisfy your sweet tooth with fruits, coconut crystals, and a little raw honey instead.
Exercise to stay fit
Exercise should be an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. It can not only help with weight loss but with maintaining the ideal weight. It is an experimentally proven fact that resistance training combined with a balanced diet with sufficient protein and other essential nutrients can help accelerate the metabolism and result in weight loss.
Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is another important weight loss tool that is often overlooked. It is the energy expenditure from passive activities like moving about, fidgeting in the chair, stretching, sitting and getting up etc. Depending on how active you are apart from the formal exercises you perform, NEAT can be as low as 15% or as high as 50% of the total energy expenditure. In other words, moving about and staying active throughout the day can be almost as effective as exercise in weight management.
Reduce stress levels with good sleep and relaxation
Most weight loss/management programs do not give enough importance to sleep and relaxation. Clinical studies have proven time and again that high-stress levels and sleep deprivation leads to obesity. The stress hormone cortisol is associated with weight gain. Lack of sleep can cause the overproduction of the hunger hormone ghrelin and reduce leptin that suppresses hunger. These hormonal changes can derail your weight loss efforts.
Set aside some time from your busy schedules for stress busting and relaxing activities. Do not compromise on sleep.