Weight Loss Myths
"Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!"
"Eat as much as you want and still lose weight!"
"Try the thigh buster and lose inches fast!"
And so on, and so on, and so on. With so many products and weight-loss theories out there, it's easy to get confused.
The information in this fact sheet will help clear up confusion about weight loss, nutrition, and physical activity. It may also help you make healthy changes in your eating and physical activity habits. If you have questions not answered here, or if you want to lose weight, talk to your health care provider. A registered dietitian, or other qualified health professional can give you advice on how to follow a healthy eating plan, lose weight safely, and keep it off.
Fad diets work for permanent weight loss.
Fad diets may be unhealthy because they may not provide all of the nutrients your body needs. Also, losing weight at a very rapid rate (more than 3 pounds a week after the first couple weeks) may increase your risk for developing gallstones(clusters of solid material in the gallbladder that can be painful). Diets that provide less than 800 calories per day also could result in heart rhythm abnormalities, which can be fatal.
Tip: Research suggests that losing ½ to 2 pounds a week by making healthy food choices, eating moderate portions, and building physical activity into your daily life is the best way to lose weight and keep it off. By adopting healthy eating and physical activity habits, you may also lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
High-protein/low-carbohydrate diets are a healthy way to lose weight.
Eating fewer than 130 grams of carbohydrate a day can lead to the buildup of ketones (partially broken-down fats) in your blood. A buildup of ketones in your blood (called ketosis) can cause your body to produce high levels of uric acid, which is a risk factor for gout (a painful swelling of the joints) and kidney stones. Ketosis may be especially risky for pregnant women and people with diabetes or kidney disease.
Tip: High-protein/low-carbohydrate diets are often low in calories because food choices are strictly limited, so they may cause short-term weight loss. But a reduced-calorie eating plan that includes recommended amounts of carbohydrate, protein, and fat will also allow you to lose weight. By following a balanced eating plan, you will not have to s eating whole classes of foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetablesand miss the key nutrients they contain. You may also find it easier to stick with a diet or eating plan that includes a greater variety of foods.
Starches are fattening and should be limited when trying to lose weight.
Tip: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating 6 to 11 servings a day, depending on your calorie needs, from the bread, cereal, rice, and pasta groupeven when trying to lose weight. Pay attention to your serving sizesone serving is equal to 1 slice of bread, 1 ounce of ready-to-eat cereal, or ½ cup of pasta, rice, or cooked cereal. Try to avoid high-fat pings and choose whole grains, like whole wheat bread, brown rice, oatmeal, and bran cereal. Choose other starchy foods that are high in dietary fiber too, like beans, peas, and vegetables.
Certain foods, like grapefruit, celery, or cabbage soup, can burn fat and make
you lose weight.
Tip: The best way to lose weight is to cut back on the number of calories you eat and be more physically active.
Natural or herbal weight-loss products are safe and effective.
Tip: Talk with your health care provider before using any weight-loss product. Some natural or herbal weight-loss products can be harmful.
"I can lose weight while eating whatever I want."
Tip: When trying to lose weight, you can still eat your favorite foodsas long as you pay attention to the total number of calories that you eat.
Low-fat or nonfat means no calories.
Tip: Read the Nutrition Facts Label on a food package to find out how many calories are in a serving. Check the serving size too it may be less than you are used to eating. For more information about reading food labels, read the brochure Energize Yourself and Your Family, from the Weight-control Information Network (WIN) or visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) online at www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/foodlab.html.
Fast foods are always an unhealthy choice and you should not eat them when dieting.
Tip: Avoid supersize combo meals, or split one with a friend. Sip on water or nonfat milk instead of soda. Choose salads and grilled foods, like a grilled chicken breast sandwich or small hamburger. Try a "fresco" taco (with salsa instead of cheese or sauce) at taco stands. Fried foods, like French fries and fried chicken, are high in fat and calories, so order them only once in a while, order a small portion, or split an order with a friend. Also, use only small amounts of high-fat, high-calorie pings, like regular mayonnaise, salad dressings, bacon, and cheese.
Skipping meals is a good way to lose weight.
Tip: Eat small meals throughout the day that include a variety of healthy, low-fat, low-calorie foods. For more information about healthy eating, read the WIN brochure Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Across Your Lifespan: Tips for Adults.
Eating after 8 p.m. causes weight gain.
Tip: If you want to have a snack before bedtime, think first about how many calories you have eaten that day. And try to avoid snacking in front of the TV at night it may be easier to overeat when you are distracted by the television.
Physical Activity Myth
Lifting weights is not good to do if you want to lose weight, because it will
make you "bulk up."
Tip: In addition to doing at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (like walking 2 miles in 30 minutes) on most days of the week, try to do strengthening activities 2 to 3 days a week. You can lift weights, use large rubber bands (resistance bands), do push-ups or sit-ups, or do household or garden tasks that make you lift or dig.
Nuts are fattening and you should not eat them if you want to lose weight.
Tip: Enjoy small portions of nuts. One-third cup of mixed nuts has about 270 calories.
Eating red meat is bad for your health and makes it harder to lose weight.
Tip: Choose cuts of meat that are lower in fat and trim all visible fat. Lower fat meats include pork tenderloin and beef round steak, tenderloin, sirloin tip, flank steak, and extra lean ground beef. Also, pay attention to portion size. One serving is 2 to 3 ounces of cooked meatabout the size of a deck of cards.
Dairy products are fattening and unhealthy.
Tip: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that people aged 9 to 18 and over age 50 have three servings of milk, yogurt, and cheese a day. Adults aged 19 to 49 need two servings a day, even when trying to lose weight. A serving is equal to 1 cup of milk or yogurt, 1½ ounces of natural cheese such as cheddar, or 2 ounces of processed cheese such as American. Choose low-fat or nonfat dairy products including milk, yogurt, cheese, and ice cream.
If you cannot digest lactose (the sugar found in dairy products), choose low-lactose or lactose-free dairy products, or other foods and beverages that offer calcium and vitamin D (listed below).
Calcium: fortified fruit juice, soy-based beverage, or tofu made with calcium sulfate; canned salmon; dark leafy greens like collards or kale
D: fortified fruit juice, soy-based beverage, or cereal (getting some sunlight
on your skin also gives you a small amount of vitamin D
"Going vegetarian" means you are sure to lose weight and be healthier.
Vegetarian diets should be as carefully planned as non-vegetarian diets to make sure they are balanced. Nutrients that non-vegetarians normally get from animal products, but that are not always found in a vegetarian eating plan, are iron, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, zinc, and protein.
Tip: Choose a vegetarian eating plan that is low in fat and that provides all of the nutrients your body needs. Food and beverage sources of nutrients that may be lacking in a vegetarian diet are listed below.
you don't know whether or not to believe a weight-loss or nutrition claim, check
it out! The Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/features/wgtloss.htm)
has information on deceptive weight-loss advertising claims. You can also find
out more about nutrition and weight loss by talking with a registered dietitian.
To find a registered dietitian in your area, visit the American Dietetic Association
Publication No. 04-4561
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