Most of us are obsessed with diets and dieting. Every day weíre bombarded by seemingly new, and most often confusing, information on what is the best way to shed those extra pounds. There are fat-burning pills, exercise machines, low-fat-low-carb snacks, and diet tips galore: Donít eat carbs, stay away from desserts, donít skip breakfast, never nibble after 6 p.m., etc. New diet books are always hitting the bookstore shelves with the latest weight-loss advice, and celebrities feel compelled to share their diet successes. With all this conflicting information, itís difficult to find a diet that is right for you ó and that will work for you! And itís not that all this weight-loss advice is useless or even unhealthy. Itís just that one personís diet secret may not work for you. The same doesnít work for everyone. So itís important to know the truth behind common diet tips. Here are 10 popular weight-loss myths and the facts.
Myth #1: You donít have to count calories
Fact: Counting calories is important You definitely need to count calories in order to lose weight. People tend to overestimate their physical activity and underestimate their calories. Donít rely on eyeballing your caloric intake or trying to estimate it. Instead, every day write down what you eat, the corresponding calories, and your physical activity. To make it easier for you to quantify your physical activity, wear a pedometer. Do this every day. Donít do it just once or twice a week. Consistency is important for dieting. Sure, this isnít easy. But if you want to lose weight, this is important to do on a daily basis.
Use our BMR/AMR calculator to calculate your approximate daily energy requirement. And remember that a calorie is a calorie whether itís fat, sugar, or protein. Still, some foods are more calorie-dense than others. That means that they contain more calories per ounce. Carbohydrates and protein have the same calories per ounce. Fat, on the other hand, has twice as many, so the calories found in fat add up twice as fast. Eat fatty foods ó dairy products, skin on meat, fatty meats ó in moderation. You want to limit your intake of fat, but you donít want to stop eating fat. Fat increases your sense of fullness. Your body also needs a small amount of fat to function. Fat is part of our cell structure. The body canít make some essential fatty acids on its own, so it needs to obtain them from an outside source.
Myth #2: Always eat breakfast
Fact: Eat some time during the morning If you wake up at 7 a.m., you donít have to immediately eat a big breakfast. Youíre probably not even hungry right after you wake up. You donít have to jump start your metabolism. You simply have to structure your eating throughout the day, so youíre not too hungry later on. It's best to eat within three hours of waking. If you get up at 7 a.m., eat something by 10 a.m. Have some yogurt or a piece of fruit. If you donít eat in the morning, you will be too hungry when you finally have a meal, and then youíll likely overeat. Remember, what counts is your total daily calories.
Myth #3: Eat three times a day ó don't snack
Fact: Eat when you want to maintain calorie intake Once again, itís all about calories. You can eat three times a day or six times a day, as long as you have the same caloric intake. However, you should have at least three meals a day. That structures your daily eating, so donít become too hungry. And if you eat six times a day, you wonít be having six full meals.
Myth #4: Carbohydrates make you fat
Fact: Carbs are necessary for a balanced diet Carbohydrates do not make you fat. Calories make you fat. Often itís the sugar and fat contained in carbohydrates that make you fat. Also a lot of carbohydrates are processed, so you donít get the advantage of feeling full from fiber found in unprocessed carbs. For example, whole grain pasta is more filling ó and makes you feel satisfied longer ó than white pasta, though both have the same amount of calories. What will change the number of calories is the amount of sauce and butter you put on your pasta. What you want to do is eat carbs in moderation.
Myth #6: Cut out desserts
Fact: Donít deprive yourself sweets Deprivation is the downfall of all diets. You can have a small portion of dessert to satisfy your sweet tooth and still stick to your diet. You just donít want to eat a large portion, or more! Food is pleasurable for many people. So, treat yourself but donít overindulge. You can create a diet that lets you eat a sweet once a day or once a week. Dieters who deprive themselves tend to go overboard when they have candy, cake, or cookies. So make a good choice of what you include in your diet. Maybe you can have a small dessert after dinner or lunch.
Myth #7: Donít worry about dieting ó just exercise
Fact: Exercising alone is not enough You probably wonít be able to work out enough to make up for eating a huge meal. Exercise just does not burn enough calories. If you eat a slice of apple pie a la mode that is 500 calories, youíll have to walk briskly for two hours to burn those calories. So, you wonít lose weight unless you also cut calories.
Myth #8: Donít weigh yourself
Fact: Get on that scale! You really need to weigh yourself to keep your weight in check. Sure, you can notice if your belt is getting tighter ó or looser ó but chances are you donít have an accurate assessment of your weight. Weigh yourself at least once a week. If you donít have a scale at home, go to your doctor or health club and weigh yourself. Weighing yourself shouldnít be seen as punishment. Itís just a way to keep an eye on your weight. And your scale doesnít always have to tell you bad news. You may not have noticed that you lost two pounds the other week.
Myth #9 Never eat at night
Fact: Calories donít know time Whatís important is how many calories you consume; not when you eat them. Many successful dieters save 200 to 300 calories to eat at night. Sure, eating a big steak before you go to bed may give you some indigestion, but it wonít ruin your diet. Eating at night may be the best time for you. Youíre at home, the kids are in bed, and you have time to enjoy your food.
Myth #10 No snacking between meals
Fact: Calories are calories Snacks arenít the culprit; calories are. You can have a small container of yogurt for breakfast and a piece of fruit for a snack before lunch. Some dieters prefer to have more structure and limit themselves to three meals a the day and no in-between-meal snacks. Others are more comfortable having small, low-calorie snacks between their main meals. What counts is the total number of calories.
Dieterís tip: Reduce calories The best way to think of cutting calories is to go backwards. Add up your daily calories. If you eat 500 fewer calories a day, you can expect to lose a pound a week, which is considered to be fairly fast weight loss. If you cut out 250 calories a day, you will lose two pounds a month. Of course, this depends on your body type, age, health, gender, and level of physical activity. Men typically need to eat from 1,600 to 1,800 calories to lose weight; women need 1,400 to 1,600. If you want to lose weight at a faster ó or slower ó rate, you can adjust your calories.