The scientific study of nutrition is still a new field of research that is continually evolving. It was only in 1912 that the term vitamin was coined and it has only been 60 years that vitamins and minerals have been studied.
Because we are continually learning new things about nutrition and weight-loss, it isn’t hard to believe that many myths have evolved. These myths are still often presented as facts, even if they have been conclusively disproved by research!
Below are 10 of the most popular weight loss myths.
Quite often we see dietary fat and body fat confused and referred to interchangeably. The idea that fat eaten in the diet becomes the fat stored in the body is incredibly prevalent. The truth is, as long as you are not consuming too many calories, eating fat will not make you fat.
Eating a high fat (and high protein), low carbohydrate diet can cause weight loss, as shown by numerous studies. Of course, it is still important to eat smaller portions and fewer calories to help with weight loss. [Source, Source]
It’s true that eating too much of anything will make you gain weight over time, but this is primarily due to the total daily calorie count. Eating carbohydrates as a part of a calorie-restricted diet will not lead to weight gain. There are numerous studies that prove people can eat carbohydrates and lose weight so long as they modify their portion size and caloric intake.
Want to make your carbohydrate choices healthier? Limit your simple sugar intake, and eat more whole grains, vegetables and fruits. For example, choosing brown rice and whole grain bread and pasta instead of the refined options. Try eating potatoes with the skins on to increase your fiber intake.
Whenever you join a weight loss group, or download any weight loss app, you are asked how many pounds or kilograms you are going to aim to lose per week. It is easy to think that if you stick to a diet plan rigidly, then you will consistently lose 2lbs each week. However, this isn’t always the case and dieters need to realize they’re not failures if they don’t lose weight every week. Weight loss fluctuates and some weeks are better than others.
The reality is that weight loss is never a straight and predictable path. Depending on how much salt or water you had the day before can have an effect on how much you weigh the next day. Another thing to consider is muscle weight. Muscle weighs more than fat and if you exercise regularly then you might not be losing as much weight because of the muscle mass you are gaining.
Don’t just focus on the number on the scales as a goal; Instead, focus on how your clothes fit, how you look in the mirror, and how fit and healthy you feel with each passing week.
Can’t ignore the scale? Try weighing yourself at the same time each day to add consistency to your weighing schedule. As long as the graph is broadly going down over time, you are on the right track!
Statistically, people who are obese have an increased chance of developing several chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. However, there are thin people who develop these chronic diseases every year. Some people who have a healthy BMI may be incredibly unfit and never exercise, whilst someone whose weight indicates that they are obese could be very active.
Other markers of health can be improved by losing weight, but are not exclusively tied to obesity. For example, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels are both associated with obesity, but are also influenced by stress, metabolic factors, and genetics.
Whilst it is true that some of the most exotic and fashionable health foods and “superfoods” can be expensive, eating healthy does not need to be more expensive than your previous diet.
Fruit and vegetables will be much cheaper to purchase when they are in season; BBC Good Food offers a comprehensive table detailing when different foods are in season (and therefore at their cheapest and tastiest). This also applies to seasonally caught meat and fish.
Beans are also cheap options that are low in calories.
Researching and planning ahead will help make eating healthy as cheap as possible. There are plenty of Youtube channels that offer recipe tutorials for healthy and affordable meals.
Whilst intermittent fasting has been proven to be one way of losing weight, starving yourself is never the answer to losing weight in a healthy manner.
Starvation diets can lead to nutritional deficits, which can lead to a whole host of health problems. By depriving your body of food, you will deprive your body of the energy it needs to sustain everyday living and increase your cravings for unhealthy food.
Starvation can also cause the body to lose muscle mass. This leads to a lower metabolic rate, and ultimately, to future struggles with weight loss. Skipping a single meal is not going to lead to this, but if you are considering a diet that recommends eating hardly any calories per day, you should probably reconsider.
Fat has been demonized by much of the health and wellness industry, and food manufacturers pounced on this to launch various reduced fat, low fat, and fat-free products. However, some of these food manufacturers add extra sugar into their products to improve the taste of their low-fat creations which increases their calorie content again.
There is some oversight and regulations covering food labelling and how a product is described, but marketers find ways around these rules to suggest that products are healthy, even if they are not.
To be labelled as low-fat (in the UK and EU), for example, a product has to have 3 grams or less of fat per 100 grams. However, to be considered a “reduced fat” product, the new product only has to have 30% less fat than the original or comparable product.
Consumers should always look at the nutrition and ingredient labels on their food, keeping an eye out for high levels of sodium, saturated fats, and foods with added sugars.
The idea of negative calories is that the body uses more calories to chew and digest the food than the food contains, with celery being the most famous example of a negative calorie food.
Unfortunately, this is not true! A large stick of celery contains around 10 calories, far more than are used to chew and digest the vegetable; celery has a lot of fibre, which means that it has a thermic effect of about 20% of the calorie content. This means that digesting each stick of celery burns around 2 calories. [Source]
Foods with different compositions require different amounts of energy to digest. Fats have a thermic effect of about 3 percent. If you consume 100 fat calories, only 3 calories will be spent digesting the fat. Fibrous vegetables and fruit have a thermic effect of about 20 percent, while proteins have a thermic effect of about 30 percent.
Oddly enough, the evolution of breakfast has a long and complicated backstory [Source]. But the thinking that breakfast is the most important meal of the day comes from a marketer, Edward Bernays, whose job was to sell more bacon for his employers; he got a doctor to agree that a breakfast of bacon and eggs was healthier than a lighter breakfast, and then sent that statement to around 5,000 doctors for their signatures. He then got newspapers to publish the results of his petition as if it was a scientific study, leading to the view that breakfast is medically recommended.
Studies have shown that skipping breakfast does not lead to weight gain, and new studies are suggesting that intermittent fasting (which features skipping breakfast) can aid weight loss [Source]. Read our article on the benefits of fasting for more information.
Studies have repeatedly shown that we over-estimate the value of our workouts significantly. One study found that when asked to guess their own calorie burn, participants overestimated remarkably.
People who have exercised recently are more likely to indulge in compensatory behaviours, as well. For example, they opt to take the elevator instead of the stairs, or buy a donut with their coffee, justifying the less active or unhealthier choice by reminding themselves (and others) that they have already been to the gym that morning. Making just one of these compensatory behaviours may be fine, but researchers believe that we often make numerous decisions like this per day, to the extent where we are essentially undoing all of our hard work in the gym.
Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.