Myths abound in the popular media about what you should and shouldn’t be doing in order to lose weight. Much of what we took for truth 20 or 30 years ago has been disproven by current research, but has yet to trickle down into the day to day advice we hear from people about how to lose weight. Below I’ve listed several common weight loss myths and why we can no longer (or never could) take them as truth.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
This is a big one that I hear over and over from my clients. We’ve all been told this at one point, especially as children, but recent research has called into question this age old advice. New research has demonstrated that it doesn’t matter whether or not you eat breakfast or skip it. Skipping breakfast does not mean that you're more likely to make up those calories later in the day or that you're sabotaging your metabolism. There is really no link with skipping breakfast and being overweight.
Drinking water will help with weight loss.
It is incredibly important to stay hydrated throughout the day and taking in enough water helps with many metabolic functions. However, there is no evidence that drinking water promotes weight loss. Taking in fewer total calories is the only tried and true way that will cause weight loss.
Hitting the gym everyday is the fastest way to lose weight.
It is much easier to make changes in your total calorie intake than it is to exercise away excess calories. It is true that you cannot outrun a bad diet, no matter how hard you try. The biggest impact you can make in terms of weight loss is by changing your eating. I’ve witnessed clients lose upwards of 50 pounds while never exercising. That being said, exercise is monumentally important for overall health and has been shown to be a strong predictor of weight loss maintenance.
Eating regularly throughout the day will help with weight loss.
The science is mixed on this. You often hear that it’s important to eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day in order to keep your metabolism steady, prevent hunger and ultimately lose weight. However, there is no definitive research that proves eating small meals is more effective than only eating one or two moderately sized meals a day in promoting weight loss. Again, it comes back to your total calorie intake and which type of eating routine is going to fit in best within your daily schedule.
Cutting back on carbs and ramping up on protein is the best way to lose weight.
Many people may be surprised to hear that excess protein actually turns to fat. Your body can only absorb so much protein each day. As with all types of calories (protein, fat, carbohydrates), any that you take in that is not needed for energy will be converted and stored as fat. Once again, it comes back to the total calorie intake and what type of eating will be sustainable for you. If you cannot sustain a low carb, high protein diet indefinitely, then you are destined to gain back the weight you lost.
Slow and steady (weight loss) wins the race.
A gradual approach to weight loss is not the only approach. New research has proven that the rate at which you lose weight has no connection to whether or not you will gain that weight back at a later time.
Eating more fruits and veggies will help with weight loss.
Incorporating fruits and veggies into your diet is important to get the nutrients you need to stay healthy. However if you’re adding fruits and veggies and not cutting back somewhere else (preferably on highly caloric, sugary foods), you are not going to lose weight. In fact, you may end up gaining weight if you’re increasing your overall calorie intake.
There you are! A few common weight loss myths I hear time and again, debunked. If you can think of any others, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.