Weight loss seems to be a hot topic nowadays.
- What’s the best way to lose weight?
- Do low-carb diets work?
- Do I have to give up all my favorite foods?
- Is there a quick fix program?
As a Nutrition Coach, I specialize in helping busy women eat healthier and lose weight- one step at a time. And you’d better believe I’ve heard the myths below more than once!
I’ve done my best to debunk some of the most common myths about weight loss and provide science behind a lot of them. I’m not a doctor though, and no one knows your body better than you do. But I hope you learn at least one new thing today to use in your healthy lifestyle!
You can’t lose weight eating at restaurants
I’m actually living proof that this is NOT true.
I worked at McDonalds for almost 10 years. And in that time, I was able to lose weight while eating their food every day I worked. You’d think that working in fast food causes weight gain: And it might for a lot of people.
It’s all about figuring out what satisfies you and is still low enough in calories to help you lose weight.
For example: I would add chicken strips or chicken nuggets to a side salad, and sometimes have a yogurt parfait with it. I had protein; a few veggies with the salad; and a little fruit from the yogurt. The idea is to find foods that have fewer calories but more nutrients.
I have quite a few clients that eat out a lot for one reason or another. And instead of telling them to stop altogether (Which we know is REALLY hard to do), I help them find healthier options.
Things like choosing grilled chicken over fried; having a salad as one of the sides; or even immediately putting part of your meal in a box to take home for later.
Long story short: Restaurant food doesn’t necessarily make you gain weight. It’s all in how you use it, and you CAN find healthy foods there!
Carbs make you fat
Ooh, I love this one. I hear versions of this from many people, and they can’t seem to tell me WHY carbs make you gain weight. They get such a bad rap: So let me give you some basic info.
Carbohydrates hold water in your body. So theoretically, the more carbs you eat, the more water you’ll retain for a short while.
If you eat a ton of pizza the night before and weigh yourself the morning after, you may notice the scale’s gone up a few pounds. This is water weight, NOT fat. And it’s completely normal and goes away after a day or so; drinking more water helps.
Now, there are different KINDS of carbs. Most of your grains should be whole grains because of the fiber and nutrient benefit. Whole grains can help with the following:
- Can help lower the risk of heart disease
- Can help with weight management by keeping you full longer
- Can help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes
Simple carbs, like white bread, give you a quick energy boost and then a fast crash. But that doesn’t make either one good or bad.
Carbs will make you gain weight IF you consume more calories than your body burns. And that can be said of any other food as well. It might just seem easier with carbs because we’re attracted to the sugary foods.
So in general: As long as you’re a healthy individual, carbs are not bad for you!
Fat makes you fat
This is all very similar to the above. Back in the day, fat seemed to be the enemy- so all sorts of low-fat foods came onto the market.
One of the problems with eating a low-fat diet is that it doesn’t keep you full very long. And that can make you overeat, therefore potentially making you gain weight.
Healthy fats are essential for brain health and keeping your body running regularly. It’s also very calorie-dense, so a little bit goes a long way.
For example: A small handful of peanuts has about 15 grams of fat for 190 calories. You don’t get much for the calories; so that’s a reason why people can easily overeat.
And a tablespoon of olive oil has about 100 calories. Definitely delicious over roasted vegetables, but easy to over-pour!
Again: As long as you’re a healthy individual, fats are good for you!
1,200 calories a day is best
How many of you have heard this? That in order to lose weight, you have to eat 1,200 calories or less per day. Have you actually tried this?
Let me tell you: It’s not easy. OR fun.
The average recommendation of daily number of calories is 2,000. And that can vary GREATLY, depending on your gender, height, weight, activity level, etc.
1,200 calories per day is the recommended calorie intake for a TODDLER. And even then, they sometimes eat way more than that.
After working with clients for the past few years, I can tell you with all honesty that I’ve NEVER had them eat only 1,200 calories per day. In fact, I bet you can eat way more than you think and STILL lose weight.
When I lost my 20 pounds of baby weight, I ate between 1,700 and 2,000 calories per day. It was slow-going: But weight loss is supposed to be that way.
And nowadays? I eat about 2,300 calories per day to MAINTAIN my weight.
So good news: It CAN be done. And you don’t have to starve yourself! It’s all about the small lifestyle changes.
You need to drink detox water/detox tea
I see this all the time. People drinking water with lemon, cucumber, turmeric, ginger, apple cider vinegar, what have you. And they call it a “detox water” and say it helps them stay healthy and lose weight.
Let me ask: What is this water REALLY detoxing?
Your body does an incredible job of removing toxins by itself. It doesn’t need a special water to help.
A lot of times, you feel better simply because you’re drinking more water. We walk around dehydrated quite a bit; and drinking more water can help improve your mood and energy levels.
The added ingredients like cucumber and lemon can help infuse the water with a bit of flavor. Drinking plain water can sometimes be boring. But you don’t get quite the same amount of nutrients that you would actually consuming the food.
So: Keep drinking it if it tastes good to you! Just make sure you eat your fruits and vegetables, too!
You can’t eat sugar
What happens when someone tells you that you can’t have something, like “junk food”?
It makes you want it even more, right?
Imagine telling yourself that you can’t have ice cream- that it’s bad for you. Week after week, you keep saying no.
And then one night, you can’t take it anymore. And you eat a whole quart of ice cream in one sitting.
This is a restrict-binge cycle, and it’s super common. The more you deny yourself certain foods, the more you want them. And that’s why I tell my clients to keep eating treats if they want them!
Sugar itself won’t make you gain weight. You can certainly overeat it, as you can with any other foods. But sugar is perfectly safe in moderation for healthy individuals.
If you feel that you’re “addicted” to sugar, there may be other things in your life that need shifted. Maybe eating more during the day, or adding more protein. I help my clients figure that out and break the binge cycle! A balanced diet that includes treats is more likely to help you stay on track.
You have to exercise to lose weight
Physical activity has MANY health benefits. I highly encourage everyone to do any exercise that works for their lifestyle. However, it’s not strictly necessary for weight loss, nor is it the only way to lose weight.
Maybe you can’t exercise right now due to an injury. Or maybe it’s simply too hard to get up and moving. And that’s okay! In regards to weight loss, it’s generally about eating less than you burn.
Regular exercise can help you burn more calories, which can help you reach your goals a little faster. The extra energy and mood boost you get certainly help, too! But no, you don’t have to exercise to lose weight.
If you don’t lose weight every week, you’re failing
I’ve had some clients get disheartened when they step on the scale and don’t see a change. Or maybe the scale even goes UP. They’re discouraged and tell me they want to give up.
What I say to them is: Weight loss is not linear. You won’t see a downward trend every single week. I certainly didn’t when I was losing weight!
There were times when I’d actually gain a pound one week; then step on the scale next week and lose two pounds. What we’re looking for is a general downward trend, over a period of months- long term weight loss is usually best!
And even then, I help my clients focus on more than just the number on the scale. I ask if their clothes fit better; if they’re sleeping better; if their mood and energy have improved. All of those are signs that what they’re doing is working!
You’re not doing anything wrong. This process is all about consistency; and as long as you keep at it, you’ll see results!
Overall, there is no shortcut to weight loss. We’re looking for sustainable weight loss over a longer period of time, with small changes to your lifestyle. Fad diets aren’t necessary, and you don’t have to give up your favorite foods!
If you need extra help, I’m here for you! Click here to schedule a free session and we can discuss your goals and whether Nutrition Coaching is right for you.
What other common misconceptions have you heard about weight loss? Leave a comment and let us know!
Jaime is a Nutrition Coach and professional writer. She enjoys cooking easy meals, running, and learning more about food.
Jaime specializes in helping women with ADHD learn to meal plan and cook healthier meals without getting overwhelmed.