When it comes to losing weight, we often rely on information from the web, what we read on social media, and the people around us. It’s easy to find weight-loss advice from different sources, but determining what’s true and what’s a myth can be difficult. You’ll read tips that contradict one another and hear about diets that seem both plausible and ridiculous at the same time. Here are 10 weight-loss myths debunked.
1. The less you weigh, the healthier you are
The number on the scale does not define you, nor does it always reflect how healthy you are. The goal of a weight-loss journey should be more than just working to make the number on the scale go down. If you’re eating healthy and exercising regularly, you may even experience a tiny bit of weight gain due to an increase in muscle mass. According to Everyday Health, muscle is more dense than fat and takes up less room in the body. This means you can lose fat and gain muscle, but look leaner while maintaining the same weight.
2. You should only eat 1,200 calories a day
While it’s important to watch calories when trying to lose weight, it doesn’t mean that you should restrict yourself to the 1,200 calories that’s often thought of as the magic number. Everyone’s metabolic rate is different, meaning the rates at which our bodies burn calories differ. SFGate mentions that people who have more muscle tend to have a faster metabolism than those with more body fat. And since body composition varies from individual to individual, the amount of calories that we burn throughout the day is unique to each person. This mean’s there’s no set number of calories that everyone should aim for.
3. You should cut out certain food groups
Carbohydrates are one of the main nutrients our bodies need to function. Mayo Clinic mentions they provide the body with energy, can help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, and are actually needed to control weight. Carbs are found in many different foods, including fruits and vegetables, not just bread. So, choosing to get rid of carbs entirely isn’t realistic for losing weight. Have the occasional slice of pizza and piece of cake to satisfy cravings, but don’t cut major food groups out entirely when trying to slim down. Chances are, you’ll restrict yourself too much, which can lead to overeating later on.
4. Following a certain diet trend will help you lose weight
There are so many different diet trends, including gluten-free lifestyles and veganism. Truth is, strictly eating vegan or suddenly eliminating gluten does not automatically make you drop 10 pounds. Sure, there may be health benefits of each diet, but unless you understand how to properly nourish your body when following these lifestyles, you can gain weight rather than lose it. Before adopting any new eating plan, make sure you know where you’ll be getting your carbohydrates, fats, and protein from.
5. Weight-loss supplements will make you skinny
Drinking detox teas and taking fat-burning supplements is not the key to weight loss. Mayo Clinic says that very little research has been done to prove how effective weight-loss supplements can be, so relying on them entirely to get in shape is unrealistic. Rather then depending on fat-burning pills or detox teas, you should follow a wholesome diet and exercise regularly. Anything that promises a quick and easy solution is probably just a scam.
6. You can eat whatever you want as long as you work out
While working out is essential to healthy weight loss, it’s a myth that spending countless hours at the gym while eating whatever you want will lead to weight loss. The saying that abs are made in the kitchen is true because you can’t expect your body to change solely by working out. An expert tells The Huffington Post that weight loss is usually 75% what you eat and 25% exercise. It’s important to pay attention to working out, but it’s even more important to be mindful of the food that you’re putting into your body if you’re trying to lose weight.
7. Anything labeled “diet”, “all natural”, and “fat-free” is healthy
The marketing industry has a clever way of advertising products to persuade people to buy them. When it comes to food, companies often package their products in ways that convey them as healthy to consumers, even if they’re not. In fact, The Washington Post says a study has found drinking diet soda may contribute to packing on excess belly fat. Products with these labels can still contain unhealthy ingredients, including high fructose corn syrup and trans fats. Better to read the label than trust the clever wording.
8. Cardio is key
Many people have the idea that cardio is the best way to lose weight. While increasing cardiovascular activity is important, it’s equally important to incorporate strength training exercises into your routine to help build muscle. Active.com says weight exercises help build strong connective tissue and tendons in the body, helps you perform daily activities, enhances bone density, and builds lean muscle. When exercising to lose weight, make sure to include both cardio and strength exercises in your routine to build muscle and burn more fat.
9. You should only eat three meals a day
The number for how many meals you should eat a day for weight loss always seems to vary. From only allowing yourself three meals to eating six small ones, people will always tell you different things. However, according to WebMD, experts say that it’s not about how many times a day you eat, but about the number of calories you’re consuming. You can eat however many times you want, but you have to make sure that you don’t wind up overeating if you find yourself noshing throughout the day. Sticking with three meals can also backfire if you’re starving by the time you make it to your next meal.
10. Your BMI is an accurate indicator of how healthy you are
Your BMI uses your height and weight to determine about how much body fat you have. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, anything below 18.5 is considered underweight, falling between 18.5 and 24.9 is normal, 25 to 29.9 is overweight, and above 30 is obese. However, BMI isn’t the best way to measure your body fat because everyone’s body composition is different. Medical Daily mentions other components that should be measured include muscle, bone, and fat proportions. It’s possible for people to fall inaccurately on the BMI scale because it ignores these intricacies.