9 Weight Loss Myths That Can Lead to Weight Gain: Part 1
If you Google “how to lose weight,” you’ll find roughly 917 million results. While many of these pages offer good advice—such as following a balanced diet and getting regular exercise—others can have the opposite effect.
Why Are Weight Loss Myths So Prevalent?
Part of the reason there are so many weight loss myths is that science is constantly changing. As we begin to learn more about the human body, we also learn more about its reaction to the food we consume. If you don’t stay up to date on the data, it’s easy to hand out bad diet advice.
Some weight loss myths are promoted in an effort to sell diet products. Manufacturers rely on this misinformation to increase the sales of their goods. Even if they don’t do this intentionally, it adds credibility to the myth. Consumers come to rely on bad advice because it is promoted by a brand they trust.
Weight loss myths also tend to offer an ‘easy way out.’ They promise that if you just do this, you will lose weight faster. Or if you don’t do that, you’ll find it easier to shed those extra pounds. People get sucked in by the promise of a fast, easy weight loss program.
Once people latch on to these beliefs, they become difficult to change. And when one source’s weight loss advice differs from another, it confuses the matter even more. If you aren’t sure which one to believe, your default is to go back to the information you’ve known the longest. Even if that information isn’t true.
The problem with this bad information is that it doesn’t help you lose weight. Worse yet, it may even make you gain. To help you better identify which advice is which, we’ve compiled a list of myths about weight loss that could actually cause your waistline to increase versus decrease. We’ve also cut this list into two parts so you have access to the best information, yet can fit reading it into your schedule more easily.
9 Weight Loss Myths That Could Lead to Weight Gain
One way to use this two-part list is to print it out and give it to your personal training clients. This opens the door to talk to them about some of the beliefs that may be holding them back from losing weight.
Educate them about why these diet myths don’t work. This will help them not fall victim to all of the bad weight loss advice that exists in the world today. It will also keep them from feeling frustrated by following advice that actually causes them to gain.
What weight loss myths can create the very situation they claim to prevent? Here are nine to consider (four in the first part and the remaining five will be in the second segment). When going through them, think of how many you’ve heard, as well as what impact believing them may have on your weight.
#1: To Lose Weight, You Need a Calorie Deficit
Many fad diets tell you that, to lose weight, you must eat fewer calories. They focus solely on creating a calorie deficit without talking about the fact that not all calories are the same.
This can lead to weight gain by using your allotted calories on foods that support weight gain versus loss. For instance, calories you consume from eating ice cream are not the same as calories consumed from fruits and vegetables.
This myth can also lead to weight gain because, if you’re eating a lot of high-calorie food, you’re likely eating less. You use up your calories quicker, even if your stomach isn’t full.
As an example, one slice of pepperoni pizza has approximately 298 calories. To eat the same number of calories in grapes, you’d have to consume 149 of them. Which is more filling? The grapes.
So, counting calories or skipping meals isn’t enough to lose weight. You also need to pay attention to where your calories come from.
The three main sources of calories are carbohydrates, protein, and fat. To lose weight, some calories should come from each of these categories. The key is to eat foods that supply the most nutrition.
If you want something crunchy, raw vegetables have more vitamins and minerals than potato chips. When making your sandwich, whole-wheat bread is more nutrient-rich than white bread. Fruit is better for a sweet treat than cake or pie.
Instead of only assessing your calorie intake by quantity, look also at the quality of those calories. Opt for high quality, healthy food. This will help you lose weight.
#2: The Only Way to Lose Weight is to Not Eat Carbs
Low-carb diets are often touted as the only way to lose weight. How could cutting bread and pasta out of your diet help you shed the pounds?
For starters, many carbs go hand-in-hand with foods not conducive to losing weight. Bread is often slathered in butter. A number of noodle-based dishes are topped with sausage or covered with a high-fat, high-calorie sauce.
Plus, when you eat carbs, your body retains more water. For every gram of glycogen you consume, you will retain 3-4 grams of water. This gives the illusion that you gain weight with carbs, but your body is just retaining water.
The truth is that the body needs carbs for energy. If you eliminate these from your diet, you may find it harder to power through a grueling workout. Reduce your physical activity and it becomes harder to achieve or maintain lasting weight loss.
The thing to remember is that there are healthy carbs and unhealthy carbs. Eating unhealthy carbohydrates such as candy and cookies can work against long-term weight loss. Not only because they’re higher in calories, but also because they cause blood sugar spikes.
When you eat a carbohydrate that is high in sugar, your blood sugar levels go up. This makes it harder to lose weight because the sugar spike is followed by a drop. Soon, you want more sugar to bring your energy up again. Thus, the craving cycle starts.
Skip the fad diet. An effective weight-loss plan focuses on eating carbohydrates that offer more blood sugar stability. Examples of these carbs include sweet potatoes, fruit, quinoa, and legumes. Whole-wheat bread and whole-wheat pasta are part of this type of plan.
#3: An Effective Weight-Loss Program Is Fat Free
Some diet plans focus more on fat than carbs. They stress that calories should come only from fat-free foods.
The problem with this approach is that fat helps you feel full. This is why it is so common to have intense cravings when you’re trying to lose weight by eating only low-fat and fat-free foods.
Like with carbs, the body also needs some fat to function essentially. Fat gives you energy. Your body also needs fat for healthy skin and hair.
Some fats can only be acquired by eating them. The body is unable to make them on its own. These are called essential fats and are part of a healthy weight loss diet.
Again, the goal is to choose fats that not only help you lose weight, but are good for you. Healthy fat sources that fall into this category include both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
Monounsaturated fat helps lower your ‘bad’ cholesterol and aid in cell development. Research reveals that polyunsaturated fat can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Fats that provide these types of health benefits come from nuts, avocados, eggs, and even dark chocolate. Eating these items provides your body the fat it needs without hurting your weight loss goals.
Fats to avoid include saturated fat and trans fat. Not only can these expand your waistline, but they also increase your risk of heart disease.
#4: If I Eat Only Diet Foods, I Will Lose Weight
When someone decides to lose weight, it’s not uncommon to see their grocery carts full of diet foods. You see low-fat milk, fat-free desserts, and a variety of other pre-packaged foods that are lower in calories than their full-fat counterparts.
In theory, eating only diet foods should help you lose weight, but they don’t. If they did, obesity wouldn’t be such a major issue today. Why don’t they work?
Processed foods typically contain three substances that can affect your weight loss efforts. These are salt, sugar (or sugar substitutes), and fat. Even if the diet food is low in fat, manufacturers use the other two substances to help improve its taste. Both can make it harder to lose weight.
Eat diet foods high in salt and sugar and you may notice it makes cravings worse. It becomes harder to stick to your diet because you constantly want to eat.
Eating a lot of diet foods also makes it easier to eat more. You don’t pay as much attention to portion sizes because the food is lower in fat or calories.
Instead of loading up on processed diet food, a good weight-loss program focuses on whole foods. This ensures that you get the nutrients you need, limiting your exposure to ingredients that could stall your weight loss.
In the second segment of this article, we will go into more of the most common weight loss myths and how they can lead to weight gain. In the meantime, know that earning your Nutrition Certification through ISSA can help you decipher between diet advice that will help clients lose weight and advice that simply won’t work. In this course, you learn the impact that certain foods have on the body. This enables you to create a healthy eating plan that fully supports weight loss. Check it out and, once you’re ready, proceed to part two so we can begin to dispel more of these weight loss myths!
ISSA’s Specialist in Sports Nutrition (SSN) program prepares personal trainers to expand their practices into the specialized area of sports nutrition. Trainers learn how to optimize client performance by combining well-designed training programs with performance nutrition.
Please note: The information provided in this course is for general educational purposes only. The material is not a substitute for consultation with a healthcare provider regarding particular medical conditions and needs. Be sure to check the statutes in your state regarding the nutrition information that non-licensed individuals are able to dispense.