7 Common Weight Loss Myths -- Busted!

7 Common Weight Loss Myths -- Busted!

Experts debunk some of the most common myths about successful weight loss.

By: Maressa Brown

No matter how many diet books you’ve read, fitness classes you’ve taken, or weight loss plans you’ve been on, it can often feel like the key to dropping unwanted pounds and maintaining a healthy weight is a total mystery. Part of the problem is there are so many weight loss myths floating around that can derail your efforts. That’s why we asked experts to clear up some of the biggest misconceptions out there and serve up a hefty dose of truth. Here, seven of the biggest myths and the realities of successful, healthy weight loss.

1. Myth: You’ll lose weight if you commit to hitting the gym regularly.

Reality: This is probably one of the biggest weight loss myths. “Working out can help you burn extra calories, significantly improve your health, and completely transform your body,” says Rachel L. Pires, author of Diet Enlightenment: The Real Secret to Weight Loss. “[But] one thing exercise will not do by itself is make you thin.”

That said, eating healthy but foregoing the gym won’t cut it either. The best plan: Strive to do both. “You won’t achieve your dream body if you don’t work out,” says Pires. And consider the other benefits: “In addition to burning extra calories, you’ll notice that when you spend time working out, you’ll be more motivated to stick to your weight loss plan,” she notes. “Plus, there is definitely a connection between clarity of mind and body.”

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2. Myth: To get rid of excess fat, you have to eat a low-fat diet.

Reality: Not only are low-fat foods often more processed and therefore filled with artificial sugars and added ingredients that will disrupt your metabolism, but eating some fat is essential to losing weight. “The body actually needs fats to be able to burn fat,” says nutritionist Paul Kriegler, corporate RD for Life Time Weight Loss, Life Time Fitness. “We just need to make sure we’re focused on healthy fats, such as olive oil, real butter, avocado, and nuts. When we eat healthy fats, our bodies don’t feel the need to store as much because we’re providing it with enough nutrients.”

3. Myth: “Low carb” is just a fad diet. It doesn’t work.

Reality: Recent research has actually shown low-carb diets work. In a major new study financed by the National Institutes of Health and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, people who ate more fat, even saturated fat, while limiting carbohydrates, lost more weight, more body fat, and had fewer cardiovascular risks than people who followed a low-fat diet. This doesn’t come as a surprise to most health experts, who advocate eating this way for weight loss.

“When we eat a diet low in processed carbs, we’re making it easier on our bodies to burn fat instead of processed carbs and sugars, which don’t lead to weight loss,” explains Kriegler.

4. Myth: You have to eat a lot less food to lose weight.

Reality: Buzzwords like “low-calorie” or “reduced-calorie” diets make us think we need to significantly reduce the amount of food we eat every day to actually see results. Not so, says Pires. “It’s important to understand that not all foods are created equal,” she explains. “If you focus on foods that are higher in volume, but lower in calories, you’ll get to eat a lot more food for the same amount of calories. You don't need to necessarily change what you like to eat! Just get creative.”


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For instance, instead of a small 100-calorie snack pack of crackers, you could have a much bigger 100-calorie bag of light popcorn.

5. Myth: BMI is a truthful indicator of how overweight or obese you are.

Reality: Not necessarily. “BMI is much less important than actual body fat percentage, as BMI is just an estimate of this number based on weight and height,” explains Kriegler. And BMI doesn’t indicate where fat is distributed on the body. Belly fat (around the abdominal organs) increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and death, but peripheral fat (elsewhere on the body) may be more innocuous, research shows. BMI also fails to account for differences in race, gender, and age. As a result, many experts are disagreeing that it is an accurate measure of health.

6. Myth: Outsmarting your hunger pangs is necessary to lose weight.

Reality: Resisting hunger is actually going to hurt you over the long haul. “If you're hungry on your weight loss plan, then you're doing something wrong,” says Pires. “If you're getting a lot of bang for your calories and eating lots of delicious food, you'll feel satisfied throughout the day, and it won't even feel like you're on a diet. A full stomach, not an empty one, will ensure you're losing weight and keeping it off!”

7. Myth: Diets are one size fits all. As long as you stick to any given plan, you’ll lose weight on it.

Reality: No matter what the research says, you’ll do best on a plan that actually appeals to your tastes and may actually be a bit individualized to suit your body’s needs. “Whether it’s low carb or high carb, low fat or high fat, individuals have better success if they eat the sorts of foods they like to eat,” notes Pires. “Plus, think about this: If you want to keep the weight off permanently, then you need to lose weight eating the sorts of foods you like to eat and will go back to eating after you lose the weight.”

What other weight loss myths do you believe need to be busted?

Maressa Brown is a senior staff writer for The Stir. She loves writing about and reading up on health/fitness, relationships, and pop culture -- preferably on a beach somewhere.

Image ©iStock.com/tetmc

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