6 Surprising Myths and Facts About Weight-Loss That You Need To Know

Myths and Facts About Weight-Loss 1Everyone has that apocryphal friend of a friend who lost half her bodyweight by some suspect diet or exercise plan. She only ate pineapples before noon! He cut out all white food! She subsisted for three weeks on jarred baby food! “This is what I call nutrition ‘myth-information.’ There is a lot of bad information out there, especially on the internet,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, CDN, author of Read It Before You Eat It.

 

MYTH: Snacking is never worth the calories.

Snacking is actually important. “If done right, it will give you sustained energy throughout the day and maybe prevent you from overeating at meals,” says Taub-Dix. That said, the type of snack and how you snack are key. Obviously, snacks should not be potato chips and other empty calories. The ideal snack should include healthy protein and carbs or protein, carbs and fat.  Examples: Greek yogurt with nuts and fruit. Celery sticks or apple slices with almond butter. Instant oatmeal with boiled water or skim milk. Also, snack mindfully, focused on what you are eating. If you are just shoveling it in while you watch TV or check email, you will eat more.

 

MYTH: Carbs make you fat.

Carbohydrates have developed an unfair reputation as bad guys. (Thanks, Atkins diet.) Carbs, however, are an excellent source of energy. The trick is not to overdo it and to eat the right carbs. Complex carbs are the way to go: green vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus; whole grains; starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, and pumpkin; and beans, lentils, and peas. “Complex carbs can make you feel fuller for longer because they break down more slowly than sugary carbs. They actually can assist in weight loss,” explains Taub-Dix.

 

MYTH: Always go with “low-fat” or “fat-free” foods.

This is where the word “free” can be costly. If a product has been labeled free of fat (or sugar or sodium), manufacturers have usually added more of something else to make it taste better (like fat or sugar or sodium). Make sure you scrutinize the labels to make sure they aren’t sneaking in ingredients that are just as bad. What’s more, “low-fat” labels seem to provide silent permission to eat more, say researchers at Cornell University Food and Brand Lab. A study there found that people confronted with foods labeled “low-fat” eat 50% more than people who eat the same foods with no health labeling.

 Related: Heart Healthy Aging With Nutrition

 

MYTH: Eat breakfast like royalty, lunch like a commoner, and dinner like a pauper.

It’s never a great idea to load up or starve yourself at any particular time of day. Taub-Dix says it’s best to eat like a “commoner” at every meal, with small nutritional snacks in between. “Your day needs to be balanced so you don’t get sluggish and bloated after a large meal, and then crash later on. On the other hand, you need to eat enough throughout the day so that you aren’t ravenous. Balance, balance, balance,” she says.
Myths and Facts About Weight-Loss 2

FACT: Sleep habits affect weight loss.

A 2014 University of Chicago study found that adequate sleep is associated with decreased appetite, and less desire for bad-for-you foods. When participants averaged 1.6 hours more sleep than usual (about 8 hours total), researchers found an encouraging correlation: “a 14% decrease in overall appetite and a 62% decrease in desire for sweet and salty foods,” according to the research report. In addition, Taub-Dix points out that when you are tired, it is harder to make smart choices. Also, if you are not sleeping a lot, you are up for more hours, which gives you more time to eat. (Midnight pizza run, anyone?

FACT: Diets don’t work.

Maybe in the short run, but not for the long haul. A 2007 UCLA review of 31 diet studies found that at least one-third to two-thirds of people on diets regained more weight than they lost within four or five years. Diets often fail because they don’t look at the whole picture. They just address the food part of the equation without looking at all the other factors that go into weight gain: exercise, stress, past trauma, sleep. Myths and Facts About Weight-Loss.

“If you change your life to fit in your unrealistic diet—no carbs, no fats, no fun or pleasure—it’s almost guaranteed that it won’t last,” says Taub-Dix. Also: Fad diets that restrict one food group or another may lack essential ingredients and don’t teach you about healthy eating. In order to get permanent change, stop thinking about it as a weight-loss regimen with all that contains—daily weighing, self-loathing when you “cheat.” Instead focus on overall lifestyle changes that promote health and energy.

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