5 Biggest Weight Loss Myths Debunked by Scientific Studies
8 Common Weight-Loss Myths—Debunked
Myth #1: You have to work out to lose weight.
While it's true that a turn on the treadmill burns calories, exercising is not mandatory for shedding pounds. "Weight loss is a simple matter of calories in versus calories out," says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Karen Ansel, RD. In truth, if you already lack restraint when it comes to intake, exercising may actually contribute to overeating, since you'll inevitably feel hungrier than usual. Understanding how much you really need to eat is much easier when your output remains consistent—at least when you first start out, she explains. But weight loss aside, all experts agree: Working out is good for you in so many ways that it's best not to avoid it. Here's how to exercise and diet effectively: Consume filling foods like fiber-rich veggies, complex carbohydrates and lean proteins throughout the day to fend off excess hunger. Then bring a healthy, portion-controlled snack, like a banana, to eat right after your workout to prevent you from feeling "starved" when you're done, so you can make better choices come mealtime.Photo: Thinkstock
Myth #2: Eating after 6 p.m. (or 7 p.m. or 8 p.m.) makes you gain weight.
"There's no evidence that eating after a certain time promotes weight gain—nor is there evidence that not eating past a certain hour will help you lose or maintain weight," says Elisa Zied, nutrition consultant and author ofNutrition at Your Fingertips. The truth: Eating oversize portions at night is often indicative of eating poorly during the day. Whether you skipped breakfast or didn't eat enough nutritious, satisfying foods throughout the day, it's likely that you'll be eating your biggest—and most caloric meal—at night, which is ultimately causing you to pack on the pounds. "The best way to manage late-night hunger is to have evenly spaced meals and snacks every few hours to stabilize blood sugar, which keeps hunger at bay," says Zied.Photo: Thinkstock
Myth #3: Your metabolism gets slower with age.
Good news: Though most of us do tend to tip the scale a little more with each passing birthday, weight gain can't be blamed on aging alone. Rather, most people gain weight as they get older due to loss of muscle, which is what determines their resting metabolic rate. "We need lean muscle tissue to keep our metabolism revved up, and as we age, we lose some muscle mass, which consequently means we gain some fat mass," says Zied. But our metabolic rate is always adjustable, she adds. "As we get older, we need to make sure to incorporate regular strength training to help preserve muscle" while also refining our diet to compensate for lost muscle that we may not want to—or be able to—regain.Photo: Shutterstock
Myth #4: Carbohydrates make you fat.
With all the malarkey going around about the way carbohydrates affect how much you weigh, it's tough to know what to believe anymore. The confusion may be due to the fact that so many comfort foods high in carbohydrates are also high in calories. But now more than ever, research is popping up everywhere explaining why we actuallyshouldbe eating carbs—every day. "According to the Institute of Medicine, cutting carbohydrates lower than 130 grams a day will negatively affect your brain function due to a lack of serotonin production," says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, author ofThe Flexitarian Diet. Your best approach to maintaining a carbohydrate balance in your diet is to choose healthy versions, like fruits, veggies and whole grains. And make sure they only account for one-third or less of each meal.Photo: Shutterstock
Myth #5: Drinking water helps you lose weight.
"Water is essential for life, but it's not a magic bullet for weight loss," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, media spokeswoman and owner of BTD (Better than Dieting) Nutrition Consultants. Even though it's commonly believed that drinking water will flush toxins and, consequently, fat from your body, "the toxin-fat connection does not have a scientific basis," says Taub-Dix. Based on a study published inNutrition Review, consuming water replaces other beverages, therefore reducing caloric intake. In other words, it's not the water itself that leads to weight loss. Best diet tip: Swap sugary juices and sodas for a glass of H2O!Photo: Shutterstock
Myth #6: If you only eat healthy foods, you'll definitely lose weight.
You saw it in the news this year: "Man Eats Twinkies for 10 Weeks, Loses 27 Pounds." How'd he do it? By only eating 1,800 calories instead of his usual 2,600. Sure, he lost two-and-a-half months' worth of nutrients—which couldn't have done great things for his body and mind function—but he also proved that when it comes to weight loss, it's the calories consumed that count. "Eating large quantities of high-quality foods such as olive oil, some fish, brown rice or nuts can do just as much damage to your weight as eating butter, pizza and cookies," says Blatner. The lesson? Portion control is just as important to weight loss as food choice. Blatner suggests relying on a combination of visual and physical cues to control your intake. "Use a small (8-in.) plate and mentally divide your meal into three parts: 1/4 whole grains, 1/4 lean protein and 1/2 produce." Also pay attention to the immediate physical signals of fullness, at which point you've likely eaten enough, Blatner explains.Photo: Shutterstock
Myth #7: Fast food is forbidden if you're trying to lose weight.
"Fast food—like any food—can fit into an otherwise healthful, nutritious diet," says Zied. The problem, she explains, is that most people who consume fast food often don't eat a healthful, nutritious diet in general. Ansel agrees: "Compared to [sit-down] restaurants, fast food can be a calorie bargain." For example: A cheeseburger slider entrée with fries at Applebee's rings in at 1,250 calories, while a McDonald's hamburger and small fries adds up to only 480 calories. Luckily, calorie counts are now available at many fast-food restaurants and on the company's website (or check out our guide to The Best and Worst Fast-Food Meals). If dieting, approach fast food with Zied's tips in mind: Look for a meal with no more than 400 to 500 calories; non-breaded and non-fried foods; meals that feature at least three food groups including, but not limited to, lowfat dairy, veggies and a lean protein like grilled chicken; and order foods with condiments on the side so you can add small amounts yourself.Photo: Shutterstock
Myth #8: Eating small, frequent meals will boost your metabolism.
This regularly-tossed-around advice seems to make sense—you have to keep things moving to keep them working. However, according to Keri Gans, author ofThe Small Change Diet(available spring 2011), while the message is right, the reasoning is slightly off. Eating portion-controlled meals every three to four hours doesn't actually boost your metabolism, she explains. Instead, it helps fend off the type of hunger cravings that make healthy food choices more difficult. "The longer you wait between meals to eat, the higher the chance that you will overeat at your next meal," she says. But eating small meals often does have other payoffs: "Fueling your body in short intervals is ideal for keeping it awake, as food is our energy." When it feels deprived even slightly, Gans says, we become sluggish and cranky.
Video: Common Weight Loss Myths Debunked
Atrial Fibrillation and Sudden Cardiac Death
George and Amal Clooney Have Revealed the Sex of Their Twins
Mozzarella in Carozza
How to Stop Obsessing Over a PastRelationship
This 34-year-old woman says extreme frugality changed her life
How to Install a Commercial Sound System
Heres When to Say Something—and When to Keep Your Mouth Shut
How to Set Up Vuze with VPN and Socks Proxy Properly
WMe Wristband Takes Wellness Tracking to the Next Level
How to Become a Stock Broker in Canada
21 Pairs of Cute Earrings To Shop RightNow
Recipe Rehab: Gluten-Free Fudgy Beet Brownie Bites
Roast Chile-Lime Turkey Breast