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4 Diet Myths

Weight loss can only be achieved in one simple way: burn more calories than you take in. Despite that fact, many still claim to have the “secret” to shedding those extra pounds.

Myth 1

Always choose low-fat or no-fat products.

In some cases, products with little or no fat are a good choice, such as for milk, yogurt, and other dairy products. But eating low-fat cookies, crackers, and other snack foods often leads people to eat more than they would of the higher fat version. Also, the calorie counts between the low-fat and regular versions of a product are not always that different, and the low-fat product may contain more sugar than the regular version. And sugar, when not burned off, turns to fat.

Indulge just a little in the higher fat foods you crave. That will probably satisfy you more than eating several low-fat snacks. Also, read food labels carefully.

Myth 2

Specific foods help you lose weight when you eat a lot of them (like cabbage soup or grapefruit).

There’s no magic in the food itself. If you only eat grapefruit or cabbage soup all day, you’ll probably lose weight, as you aren’t taking in many calories. But eating just one food can’t be sustained for long. And the weight will likely come back on as soon as you start eating a regular diet. Also, eating just one food can be dangerous to your health—it doesn’t allow you to get the nutrients you need.

The best foods to eat in large quantities are fruits and vegetables, as five to nine servings a day are recommended. But make sure that’s not all you eat—a well-rounded diet will help you lose weight and keep it off.

Myth 3

Fast is best when it comes to weight loss.

Go slow and steady. When you lose weight too quickly, it often comes back on—just as fast. Most experts recommend that you lose one to two pounds a week by combining a healthy diet with regular exercise.

Talk to your doctor about how many calories you should be eating a day, and what exercise routine is best for your current fitness level.

Myth 4

You don’t need to exercise to lose weight.

Well, you can lose weight without exercising, but it’ll be more difficult both to lose it and keep it off. If you cut calories by eating less, and burn off calories by exercising, you’ll be better able to manage your weight. Plus, you get all the other benefits of exercise, such as improving heart health, reducing stress, and more. Also, if you only restrict calories, the weight you lose comes from both fat and muscle. Since muscle burns more calories than fat, you could actually lower your metabolism by losing muscle. That means your body burns fewer calories when at rest. However, if you do exercise, your muscle mass increases—and your metabolism increases as well. In fact, exercise has been shown to significantly increase your odds of maintaining weight loss.

With your doctor’s approval, start out by exercising 30 minutes on most days of the week, then gradually increase your time. Exercising 60 minutes on most days of the week is recommended for weight loss.

Start Your Diet with Questions

If you decide to enroll in a formal weight-loss program, be sure to ask questions first. Does the program:

  • Explain possible health risks from weight loss?
  • Explain all costs?
  • Include weight control over a long time?
  • Have proof of success, not just praise by other people?
  • Give a clear, truthful statement of how you’re going to lose weight, including how much and how fast?
  • Teach how to eat healthfully and exercise more?

Source: The Food and Drug Administration