Last updated on January 27, 2018
Regardless if you’re looking for the top weight loss pills, weight loss supplements or weight loss foods, nothing will work to shed those pounds if it’s not effective at actually helping people lose weight. As more and more Americans turn to quick weight loss fixes, they often find that eliminating certain foods or following the latest diet craze leaves them with more weight than they started with due to common weight loss myths.
It’s a huge consumer misconception that doing something short term — a diet, taking weight loss pills or eliminating specific foods for example — will have positive long-term effects. Elaine Magee, from WebMD Weight Loss Clinic, reminds everyone, “fads and gimmicks can actually do more harm than good when it comes to losing and maintaining your weight.”
Here are some facts to help arm you with the truth about the most common weight loss practice myths.
Fact or Fiction: Skipping meals helps with weight loss
Skipping meals, especially breakfast, may in fact lead to weight gain. Numerous studies show that skipping meals only leaves you feeling hungry, which can cause you to overeat at mealtime. Eating breakfast not only reduces your immediate hunger, a healthy breakfast also helps to replenish the stored glycogen, which can provide you with instant physical energy.
Skipping meals also leads to poor nutrition and tiredness, leaving you more likely to crave quick-fix food choices that are high-calorie, high-sugar and high fat. Crash diets that demand skipping regular meals tend to lead to long-term weight gain because people give in to their high-carb food cravings and then end up eating more calories than they would have had they instead, eaten a few healthy meals throughout the day.
Fact or Fiction: Drinking water (with lemon or lime) helps me lose weight
The only way drinking water with fruit such as lemon or lime will help you lose weight, is if you drink water in place of sugary, high-calorie beverages. On it’s own, with or withtout the lemon or lime, water does not cause people to lose weight. Since water contains zero calories, it’s the best choice for everyone.
Fact or Fiction: You can burn more calories by eating certain foods
With all the infographs out there citing their lengthy eat this food lists, it’s no wonder consumers truly are confused about this misconception, so we’re here to set the record straight. When it comes to burning calories from eating specific foods, this is complete fiction.
According to Elizabeth Pivonka, PhD, RD, president of the Produce for Better Health Foundation, the bottom line: a calorie is a calorie regardless of where it comes from, and while different foods do offer different health benefits, there is no such thing as eating specific foods to increase metabolic rate.
Fact or Fiction: If I eat only fat-free or low-fat I’m eating less calorie
You may be surprised to learn that many processed foods labeled as fat-free or low-fat contain just as many calories as the regular non-fat versions of the same food choices. In some cases, they even contain more calories because being processed means added starch, salt, flour or sugar meant to enhance texture and flavor after the product has been fat-modified. All these flavor enhancements equal additional calories.
It’s also worth noting that foods labeled reduced-fat are not legally required to meet the same criteria as other low-fat labels, which can be misleading to consumers. Just because a reduced-fat food snack contains less fat than it’s full-fat version, does not mean it’s a healthier choice. Most low-fat foods contain elevated levels of sugar.
Fact or Fiction: Eliminating snacks will help shed pounds
Most people require a snack in between meals to maintain their energy level. When you feel a rumble in your stomach, it’s important that you eat something because staving off starvation can prevent binging at mealtime.
It is a myth that eliminating snacking will help shed pounds because snacking isn’t the problem. The problem is what you chose to snack on. If you’re reaching for chips, cookies, chocolate or other forms of candy rather than a piece of fruit, nuts, low-fat cheese, yogurt or vegetables, then perhaps you should eliminate snacking. Dietitians recommend eating five small meals each day rather than one large calorie-laden meal. According to the Produce for Better Health Foundation, American snacking habits are getting better. They say nearly 70 percent of Americans choose healthy fruit and vegetables as their after 4 p.m. snack of choice for an energy boost.
Fact or Fiction: Limiting carbs is necessary to lose weight
While there is a little truth to this, for the most part, it’s fiction. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel, so cutting back on all carbs will not prove effective in losing weight. However, cutting back on simple carbs — sugar intense and processed foods such as baked goods, desserts, candy and sugar-sweetened drinks, which are full of calories and almost zero nutrients — will certainly help with weight loss. Replacing simple carbs with complex carbs — whole grains, fruit and vegetable food choices — will help you reach your weight loss goal more efficiently.