Losing weight is hard enough. Add to it the constant bombardment of conflicting advice, and it’s enough to make even the most determined lifestyle changer get discouraged. Here are 9 weight loss myths that get perpetuated over and over again. Learn the truth and end the confusion.
Healthful Food Doesn’t Taste Good
THE MYTH: Diet foods are bland-tasting, unappetizing, and the portions resemble that of a mouse’s diet.
FACT: Your weight loss diet can be every bit as enjoyable as your processed foods diet. There are literally thousands of different healthful foods out there, and when you combine them with spices and homemade sauces, you have a near endless amount of food combinations and flavors to choose from. It’s enough to make even the pickiest eater happy.
You Have to Be Perfect With Your Diet to Get Results
THE MYTH: If you want to lose weight you need to give up your favorite foods and be perfect with your diet.
FACT: Having 10-20% of your calories come from “pleasure” foods won’t keep you from reaching your weight loss goals. A diet consisting of 80% whole foods will provide you with plenty of micronutrients that are conducive to fat loss. As long as you can practice portion control and maintain a calorie deficit, you can have your cake and eat it too.
You Need to Create a 500-1000 Calorie Deficit to Start Losing Weight
THE MYTH: Creating a 500 calorie daily deficit will result in a 1lb weight loss per week, and a 1000 calorie deficit will result in 2lbs.
FACT: It’s not that simple, nor should everyone be cutting 1000 calories from their diet. The fact of the matter is a 1000 calorie deficit could be way too much for some people, resulting in muscle loss and metabolic slowdown.
Weight loss momentum can get started with as little as a 100-200 calorie deficit, and doing so will leave you plenty of room to further cut calories when your weight loss plateaus. Always try to eat as many calories as possible that will enable you to still lose weight.
You Must Eat 6 Meals a Day to Lose Weight
THE MYTH: Eating 5-6 small meals a day is what everyone should be doing to lose weight.
FACT: While there is nothing inherently wrong with eating 6 meals a day, it is not necessary to lose weight. Studies have shown no significant difference between 3 meals per day vs 6 meals per day .
All things being equal (calories, macronutrients, etc), meal frequency will have little impact on your results. Instead, choose a meal frequency that best fits into your own individual lifestyle, as that will be key to keeping you consistent with your weight loss.
You Should Exercise in the Fat-Burning Zone if You Want to Burn Fat
THE MYTH: To burn fat, you have to exercise in the fat-burning zone (55% – 70% of your max heart rate).
FACT: While exercising in this zone might help you burn more fat during your workout, total calories burned at the end of the day is the real determining factor in fat loss. That means anaerobic exercise and strength training can be equally effective at fat loss (or more so) when an equal amount of calories are burned. Plus, strength training builds muscle, which increases your metabolic rate and fat loss during times of the day when you’re not exercising.
If the Scale Doesn’t Change You’re Not Making Progress
THE MYTH: Each day you step on the scale your weight should be going down, or else you’re not making any progress.
FACT: Weight loss isn’t linear, and can fluctuate several pounds a day due to changes in water, hormones, glycogen stores, and food eaten. But that’s beside the point, as you can still lose fat without losing weight. Body composition is what’s important.
In addition, don’t assume all your hard work is for nothing. Positive changes are occurring on the inside of your body even if the scale doesn’t reflect that, and that’s progress.
Cut Fat Out of Your Diet to Lose Fat
THE MYTH: To lose fat you should pick as many low-fat or fat-free food products as possible.
FACT: It’s true that fat has more calories per gram than any other macronutrient, and reducing your fat intake is an easy way to cut calories. But lowering your fat too low can cause you more harm than good.
Fats are an essential macronutrient. You must get them externally from your diet (specifically essential fatty acids), as your body cannot manufacture them on its own. Not to mention, fats play vital roles in your body such as maintaining optimal hormone levels, lubricating joints, and assimilating fat-soluble vitamins.
Spot Training Will Burn Fat in That Particular Area
THE MYTH: If you want a tight midsection you can get it by doing sit-ups and crunches.
FACT: Sit-ups and crunches will do little to tighten up your midsection unless your diet is in check. Fat loss is not localized – it is systemic in nature. Whether you’re doing squats, sit-ups, or running, fat is mobilized from all parts of the body and then metabolized in the muscle.
Think of it this way – you didn’t get to choose where the fat went on, and you don’t get to choose where the fat comes off. Body fat is a single organism. Your body fat percentage either increases or decreases as a whole, and where it comes off is more a function of hormones and genetics. Create a calorie deficit, get active by exercising your entire body, and then be patient.
Losing Weight is Always Healthy
THE MYTH: If I’m losing weight I’m automatically getting healthier.
FACT: It’s important that you don’t accept weight loss and getting healthier as one-in-the-same. In reality, you can be skinny and unhealthy, just as you can be overweight and healthy. Weight and health are two independent goals to work on.
While there is generally a correlation between losing weight and being healthier, variables such as the quality of your diet, whether or not you exercise, and the use of risky fat loss pills can negatively affect your health even if you’re still losing weight. To lose weight and be healthy, you must create a calorie deficit, eat a diet high in nutrients, exercise regularly, and take care of your mental health.