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Top Five Weight Loss Myths

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Diets, General Nutrition, Heart, Cardiovascular & Blood Health, Weight - Body Shape and Composition, Healthy Eating
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There is a lot of information out there about the “best” way to lose weight and sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between a myth and a fact. Here are some common weight loss myths and the truth behind these claims:


Myth #1: Carbohydrates make you fat.

Fact: Carbohydrates are an important part of any balanced diet.

The consumption of too many calories is what leads to weight gain. Several studies have shown that low-fat, higher carbohydrate diets are just as effective for weight loss as low-carbohydrate diets1. The problem is that many “simple” carbohydrate foods are easily over consumed. Choose “complex” carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, low fat milk, beans, and whole grains. These should help you get the necessary 25-35g of fiber and they will also give you a hefty dose of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Limit foods containing added sugar like cakes, pies, candy, or sugary drinks2.


Myth #2: Fat makes you fat.

Fact: Fat actually increases fullness and serves many important functions in our bodies.

Fat provides flavor and slows down the speed at which food travels through your digestive system, increasing fullness. Fat helps maintain glowing skin and hair. It is necessary for the absorption of vitamins A, D, K, and E3. Omega-3 fats, generally found in fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds, can help reduce inflammation leading to a decreased risk for chronic diseases, like diabetes4. A weight loss meal plan should include moderate portions of “healthy” fats like fish, nuts, or olive oil to help increase fullness. 


Myth #3: Eating more protein will make me lose weight.

Fact: Extra calories are extra calories no matter what.

Protein has received a lot of attention for being a weight loss “miracle food”. Eating more calories than you burn will lead to weight gain, it doesn’t matter if those calories are from protein. In a recent 2009 study, 811 obese people were given a calorie restricted diet with differing levels of protein. The weight loss at the end of the 6 months was the same for all groups. Based on this study, it can be inferred that caloric restriction is the key to lose weight and a high protein diet isn’t necessary to achieve weight loss5. 


Myth #4: Just exercising will help me lose weight.

Fact: Weight loss is more about diet, than exercise.

Exercise has many benefits from decreasing stress, to helping control blood pressure, but exercise alone has not been found to result in significant weight loss without calorie restriction6. The reason is that it is difficult to burn enough calories to enter into a caloric deficit significant enough to result in weight loss. To burn 500 additional calories, a 70kg person would have to play basketball for an hour or do an hour of step aerobics every day to result in about a ½ kilo of weight loss per week7.


Myth #5: Don’t eat after 7pm.

Fact: Calories don’t know what time it is.

What’s really important with weight loss is the TOTAL number of calories you consume throughout the day. So pick a 24 hour period to designate as your “day” and try to consume a certain number of calories within that period. The problem with late night eating is that it is usually “extra” calories we don’t really need that we may be eating out of boredom. If you have a late-night craving, ask yourself first “Am I hungry?” Or am I bored, tired, etc? Sometimes we reach for food for reasons other than hunger.

 


 

References:

1)     http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=409791

2)     http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/carbohydrates-full-story/index.html#what-are-carbohydrates

3)     http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002468.htm

4)     http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/omega-3-000316.htm/

5)     http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmoa0804748

6)     http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/exandwtloss.html

7)     http://www.primusweb.com/fitnesspartner/calculat.htm

  

Top Five Weight Loss Myths