By now we all know that carbs and fats won't necessarily make us gain weight any faster, breakfast is not all that important in the weight loss battle and that eating late at night won't make us fat per se.
However, there is still plenty of advice out there that folks who want to shed a few pounds cling on for their dear lives. It's hard to rid yourself of an idea once it's in your head, but, quite often, these tricks are little more than old wives' tales.
Below is a list of seven myths probably everyone came across at some point in their lives and the truths behind them.
1. Don't Weigh Yourself Too Frequently
The theory: The idea behind it is that since our weight often fluctuates, regardless of the actual fat loss, people quickly feel discouraged when they see the number go up and quit their new diet. This is why many weight loss plans advise you to weigh yourself less frequently: once a week at the most.
The reality: In my experience, when you are trying to lose weight, it can be very useful to weigh yourself every single day. This way, you are able to see how your body responds to different foods and portion sizes. A lot can happen with your body in a week, so if you weigh yourself every day, you are able to adjust your eating patterns according to the patterns you see on the scale.
It is important to be aware of the fact that there will be ups and downs, regardless of your effort, but by observing them regularly, you will soon be able to see what is really going on with your body. This is better than having to wait another week to find out whether it was all just water weight or your portions really are too big for your current level of activity.
2. What You Eat Matters More Than How Much You Eat
The theory: Clean food most often has less calories than processed food. Also, since it is richer in nutrients, we often feel full more quickly and stay full longer. This is why people assume that clean eating alone is enough to lose weight.
The reality: Although clean eating does make you healthier, the number of consumed calories is still the crucial factor when it comes to weight loss. If you eat too many calories, you will gain weight, regardless of where they came from. A lot of foods that are very healthy are also very calorie-dense, high in sugar and fats, like fruits, nuts, avocado or nut butter, for example.
3. If You Work Out, You Can Eat Whatever You Want
The theory: All physical activity burns calories. The more rigid it is, the more calories you burn. This would, theoretically, mean that if you continue eating the same as you always have and add extra physical activity to your everyday routine, you will lose weight.
The reality: What really happens, though, is that if you are not extra careful with your caloric intake, you simply eat more whenever you burn more calories. That is just the way our bodies regulate themselves. So by simply starting a new workout routine, without monitoring the amount of calories you consume, you will only maintain your weight at best.
Furthermore, working out doesn't result in such a huge amount of burned calories, as some like to think. For example, 30 minutes of reading burns roughly 34 calories, whereas 30 minutes of running 6 mph burns about 300 calories. The difference is less than 300 calories, which is the equivalent of three medium apples, less than two slices of cheese pizza or 3/4 of a cheeseburger. So it's important you don't compensate for the additionally burned calories.
4. All Carbohydrates and Fats Are Bad For You
The theory: Simple carbs, trans fats and saturated fats really are bad for you. Bad fats raise your cholesterol level and simple carbs lead into a rapid rise and fall of your blood sugar, which leaves you feeling sluggish and drained of all energy. This is why diets excluding all fat and carbohydrates have become extremely popular.
The reality: Not all carbs and not all fats are bad for you. Some mono- and poly-saturated fats are crucial for your well-being, since they can actually help lower your cholesterol and reduce your risk for heart disease. Also, complex carbs are the macro-nutrient your body needs the most of. Whole grains, green vegetables, starchy vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits are the way to go.
5. If You Want To Keep the Weight Off, You Need To Lose It Slowly
The theory: Rapid weight loss means you haven't changed your eating habits permanently, so you are bound to gain all the weight back once you stop dieting. At least this is what yo-yo dieters like to believe.
The reality: There is no research to support this claim. Losing at least a part of the weight rather quickly can motivate you to continue with your new lifestyle and don't get stuck. What happens when you are losing weight very slowly, without noticing any real changes on a weekly basis, is that you can get discouraged. Also, trying to reach a small calorie deficit can quickly lead into having no deficit at all.
6. Drinking More Water Will Make You Lose Weight Faster
The theory: People often confuse hunger with thirst, which is why drinking a glass of water before reaching for your go-to snack might indeed prove useful. Also, if you start drinking water instead of juices and soda, you can save additional calories. But there is nothing magical about water.
The reality: If you simply start drinking more water, without changing your eating habits in any way, you will not lose any weight. In fact, the number on your scale might even go up a bit after the first few days, since your body will be more hydrated.
However, having a glass of water between meals, when you would normally snack on something, can help you lose weight, since it makes you feel fuller.
7. Coffee Can Make You Lose Weight
The theory: The caffeine in coffee boosts your metabolism, which means you burn more calories. It can also help suppress appetite.
The reality: Drinking more than two to three cups a day can lead to anxiety, sleeplessness and an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. Caffeine does boost your metabolism, but not enough for you to actually be losing weight simply by drinking more coffee.
More importantly, calories in caffeinated drinks that are not sugarless black coffee can go through the roof. If you can't stand the taste of regular black coffee, but still need a little pick-me-up in the morning, at least make sure you stay away from any hot drinks that include a huge amount of cream, sugar or flavored syrups.