Some Common Weight Loss Myths
Scrolling through social media, reading your favourite magazine, or visiting popular websites exposes you to endless information about nutrition and weight loss - most of which is incorrect. Even qualified health professionals, including doctors and dietitians, are to blame for spreading misinformation about nutrition to the public, adding to the confusion.
Here are some of the biggest myths related to nutrition, and why these antiquated beliefs need to be put to rest.
Following a very low calorie diet is the best way to lose weight
While reducing calorie intake can indeed boost weight loss, cutting calories too low can lead to metabolic adaptations and long-term health consequences. Though going on a very low calorie diet will likely promote rapid weight loss in the short term, long-term adherence to very low calorie diets leads to a reduction in metabolic rate, increased feelings of hunger, and alterations in fullness hormones.
This makes long-term weight maintenance difficult.
"Calories in, calories out" is all that matters when it comes to weight loss
Though creating a calorie deficit by burning more energy than you take in can play a role when it comes to weight loss, it's not the only thing that matters. Relying solely on calorie intake doesn't account for the large number of variables that may prevent someone from losing weight, even when on a very low calorie diet.
For example, hormonal imbalances, health conditions like hypothyroidism, metabolic adaptations, the use of certain medications, and genetics are just some of the factors that may make weight loss harder for some people, even when they're on a strict diet.
This concept also fails to emphasize the importance of sustainability and diet quality for weight loss. Those following the "calories in, calories out" method typically concentrate solely on the calorie value of foods, not their nutrient value. This can lead to choosing low calorie, nutrient-poor foods like rice cakes and egg whites over higher calorie, nutrient-dense foods like avocados and whole eggs, which isn't the best for overall health.
High fat foods are unhealthy
Though this antiquated and incorrect theory is slowly being put to rest, many people still fear high fat foods and follow low fat diets in the hopes that cutting their fat intake will benefit their overall health.
Dietary fat is essential for optimal health. Plus, low fat diets have been linked to a greater risk of health issues, including metabolic syndrome, and may lead to an increase in insulin resistance and triglyceride levels, which are known risk factors for heart disease.
What's more, diets that are higher in fat have been proven just as effective - or even more so - than low fat diets when it comes to encouraging weight loss. Of course, extremes in either direction, whether it be a very low fat or very high fat diet, may harm your health, especially when diet quality is poor.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day
While it was once thought that eating breakfast was one of the most important factors in setting yourself up for a healthy day, research has shown that this might not be the case for most adults. For instance, research indicates that forgoing breakfast may result in reduced calorie intake.
Moreover, partaking in intermittent fasting, during which breakfast is either skipped or consumed later in the day, has been linked to a plethora of benefits, including improved blood sugar control and reductions in inflammatory markers.
However, intermittent fasting can also be accomplished by consuming a regular breakfast then having your last meal earlier in the evening to maintain a fasting window of 14–16 hours.
Keep in mind that this does not apply to growing children and teens or those with increased nutrient needs, such as pregnant women and those with certain health conditions, as skipping meals may lead to negative health effects in these populations.
On the other hand, some evidence shows that eating breakfast and consuming more calories earlier in the day rather than at night, coupled with reduced meal frequency, may benefit health by reducing inflammation and body weight.
Regardless, if you enjoy breakfast, eat it. If you're not a breakfast person, don't feel the need to add it to your daily routine.
Low fat and diet foods are healthy alternatives
Take a trip to your local grocery store and you'll find a variety of products labeled "diet", "light", "low fat" and "fat-free." While these products are tempting to those wanting to shed excess body fat, they're typically an unhealthy choice.
Research has shown that many low fat and diet items contain much more added sugar and salt than their regular-fat counterparts. It's best to forgo these products and instead enjoy small amounts of foods like full fat yogurt, cheese, and nut butters.
These are just some of the most common myths when it comes to weight loss and nutrition.