Five Weight Loss Myths

There’s nothing worse than gearing up to lose weight, setting the date to begin, finally initiating your plan, only to find your efforts fail.  Usually the failure is due to misinformation which is common nowadays given the endless articles, infomercials and word-of-mouth crazes we are bombarded with daily.  With this in mind, the following post will focus on debunking some common weight loss myths I hear frequently from patients in my practice.

Myth #1:  Skipping meals will help me lose weight.  It makes practical sense since skipping meals leads to less calories consumed.  Unfortunately, skipping meals also has the unintended consequence of slowing down your metabolism, making you less efficient at burning calories.  The net effect over time is that skipping meals makes it more difficult to lose weight and usually leads to having less energy in the day.

Myth #2:  Eating out frequently is okay as long as it involves healthy choices.  People often feel that a salad is a salad is a salad and it doesn’t matter if the salad is made at home or ordered in a restaurant.  While it would be nice and more convenient, this isn’t true.  To begin with, the portion size when eating out usually is twice the size of a salad made at home.  Twice the size means twice the calories.  Next, you have to consider restaurant salad toppings which almost always include unhealthy options such as croutons, crunchy Asian noodles or calorie-laden dressing.  Lastly, if you continue to rely on eating out, there will inevitably be stressful days when a salad won’t do and you will opt for food with more immediate gratification.

Myth #3:  Eating after 8pm will cause you to gain weight.  I am not sure where this concept began but the only place I know it applies is if you’re a Sumo wrestler!  Sumo wrestlers need to pack on pounds to be successful in their sport.  They tend to eat 20,000 calories a day with at least 10,000 of those calories late at night washed down with several pints of beer.  Unless you plan on moving to Japan and taking up this revered sport, it is safe to say that the problem with eating late has far more to do with the food choices you make at this hour than the hour itself.

Myth #4:  If I drink more water, I will lose weight.  Drinking water is healthy, and most people feel better when they are well hydrated.  They have less fatigue in the afternoon, less irritability, and are more likely to make positive food choices.  However, drinking more water will not help you lose weight unless the water replaces high calorie drinks such as soda, iced tea and fruit juices.  Next time you fill up your glass, remember that water has zero calories!

Myth #5:  If I exercise, I will lose weight.  Exercise may be the single best thing you can do for your health.  It will lower your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.  It will improve your mood, your balance and lower your risk of fractures.  Unfortunately, after the age of 35 or so exercise becomes an inefficient means of losing weight.  Consider if you take a three mile run.  You will burn approximately 350 calories, which may vary a little based on your size and speed.  Yet, there are 3,500 calories in a pound.  Your three-mile effort only burned 1/10th of a pound.  This doesn’t mean that exercise can’t assist in weight loss, as there are long term benefits regarding muscle development and metabolism.   However, the basic premise that beginning an exercise program such as walking or going to the gym by itself will help you lose weight successfully or quickly is not true.

So keep these thoughts in mind when planning your weight loss strategy.  Remember that, while not as exciting as the latest fad diet, focusing on a healthy lifestyle by preparing most of your meals and exercising moderately for health benefits is still the best and most successful means to a healthier and leaner you.

Next week’s post: The Truth About Taking Vitamins

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Author: mdpoet

Physician and poet living in North Carolina.

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