If someone tells you that weight loss is easy, you can be sure of only one thing: they’re trying to make a fast buck. On the other hand, you can be equally wary of people who insist that slimming is hugely complicated and that only their secret (yet scientifically proven) methods will work.
The truth is, as ever, somewhere in between. Successful slimming is largely about common sense, but unfortunately there are many myths peddled about dieting that make it more difficult to get to the real facts on how to lose weight. Here are six pieces of widely repeated advice that it’s best to ignore if you want to be successful in shedding the pounds.
Myth #1: Dieting is Expensive
Of course, if you fill your shopping cart with special diet foods and supplements, then it can cost a lot of money. However, most such products are unnecessary, and it’s better for both your diet and your wallet to concentrate on eating fresh, healthy food rather than expensive slimming products of dubious worth. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional low-fat diet treat, but for the long term, a shift in your basic eating habits towards natural, unprocessed foods is likely to have a better effect.
Myth #2: Carbs are Evil
It’s commonly repeated that carbohydrates are an enemy of weight loss because of their high calorific value and disruptive effects on blood sugar levels. There is a lot of truth in this, but as with most food types, carbohydrates are fine as part of a balanced diet. However, it’s a better idea to go for unprocessed carbs such as wholemeal bread or brown rice – these take longer to digest and result in more balanced sugar levels throughout the day. They are also richer in fibre, which can boost your metabolism and make it easier to keep your weight under control.
Myth #3: Crash Diets Work
In the short term, an extreme fasting regime will help you shed the pounds very quickly. The problem comes when you return to a normal diet – studies show that the more quickly you lose weight, the more quickly you regain it afterwards, and can even put on more. This is because your body has become used to smaller amounts of food, and when you start eating normally again your metabolism concentrates on storing up this sudden increase in calories as fat to fall back on during the next fasting period. A gentle reduction in food intake over a longer period is easier to maintain, and will have longer lasting weight loss benefits.
Myth #4: Low Fat Foods are Better
There is nothing intrinsically wrong with fat as a food – the only problem for dieters is that it is in fact a highly efficient source of energy, and eating too much of it will indeed result in weight gain. So shouldn’t it stand to reason that low fat foods are better for slimming? To an extent, yes, but in reality slimming success is down to the number of calories you consume compared to the amount of energy you burn through activity. A low fat food may still be full of sugar and other sources of worthless calories, so don’t let a ‘low fat’ label lull you into a false sense of security.
Myth #5: You Need to Exercise Until You Drop
Physical exercise is an important part of a healthy and sustainable weight loss program. However, no matter what the gym adverts say, strenuous work outs are not necessary, nor particularly effective. Heavy exercise can leave you tired, weak, and susceptible to the temptation of a sugary treat to get you back on your feet. It’s much more sensible to work small amounts of regular activity into your daily life: walk the block or two to your friend’s house rather than driving there, take the stairs rather than the elevator, and so on. Not only is this less daunting and easier to achieve, it will have a longer lasting effect than irregular bouts of muscle-straining, exhausting activity.
Myth #6: Snacking Sabotages Slimming
It’s a common part of many diet plans to cut out any and all snacks between carefully controlled meals. While this can definitely have a beneficial effect in terms of reducing calorie intake, it can also be counterproductive. If you’re feeling hungry between meals, you’re more likely to have a larger portion when you do come to eat. You’re also more likely to succumb to the temptation of a sugary or fatty treat, and in general your blood sugar levels are going to be highly disrupted. It’s far better to allow yourself a small, healthy snack such as fresh fruit or raw vegetables – the extra calories will be more than offset by the metabolic stability you’ll be helping to maintain, which is essential for long term weight loss success.
No matter what the hype of the latest diet craze may have you believe, losing weight is rarely easy. However, there’s no reason to make it even harder for yourself to shed the pounds by being taken in by slimming myths, which can easily lead you down the wrong track in your healthy eating efforts.