There is no industry on earth (no, not even finance) fraught with more myths than the diet and fitness industry. Misinformation abounds, sometimes based on a single, limited study, and sometimes merely made up from who knows where. Here are seven myths you can be assured are false, so you can get on with your weight loss goals uninhibited by misinformation.
1. Snacking is Always Bad
Snacks are notorious for causing confusion in weight loss circles. But healthy snacking is a good part of a healthy overall eating plan. Bad snacks are those you find at the vending machine — sodas, highly processed crackers with cheese-like substances, sodium-laden chips, and of course – candy. Good snacks keep your blood sugar levels steady and help you eat less at mealtime because you aren’t famished. Good snacks include fruits, vegetables, granola, and nuts. The key is, don’t eat too much of anything.
2. Low-Fat and Fat-Free Foods are Safe
These terms were invented by marketing gurus, not nutritionists, and they have no real value to the consumer. Some dieters think that these terms mean they can eat as much as they want and stay on a diet. But these foods do have calories, and they cause weight gain! Consider the overall calorie content and nutritional value of any food, no matter how it’s marketed.
3. Eating at Bedtime Causes You to Gain Weight
The time of day you consume calories has no bearing on weight loss. Eating at bedtime is discouraged because people who eat then are more likely to have waited too long to eat, therefore making poor decisions and potentially consuming more calories. Eat regularly throughout the day, and if you need a small snack to sleep better you don’t have to feel guilty for it.
4. You Just Have to Find the Right Diet
Low carb, low fat, eat like a caveman — fad diets are a big industry nowadays. Most claim to be based on some scientific research, but the fact is no diet plan is an adequate replacement for a realistic, healthy way to live. Eat an abundance of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. Supplement these with a few whole grain breads and an occasional sweet treat, and you’ll never need a fad diet again.
5. All Fast Food is Bad
Fast food has taken a huge hit in the media, and some chains have even been sued by people who claim the restaurants made them fat. Not all fast food, however, is evil – just like not everything whipped up in grandma’s kitchen is good for you. If fast food integrates well into your lifestyle, learn how to make healthy choices – decisions that almost all chains now support through higher quality menu items. Go for the salad over the burger and fries, or opt for a piece of grilled chicken instead of the battered and fried variety. Just use good judgment when eating fast food, and remember, sit-down restaurant food loaded with sauces, smothered in butter, and fried in oil and batter are worse than many fast food offerings today.
6. Certain Foods Can Make You Lose Weight
Every so often, a list circulates that’s supposed to reveal secret foods that will make you lose weight. Celery, for instance, burns more calories to digest than it contains. Some lists also include items like hot pepper, which is also supposed to burn calories. The reality is, there is no way you’ll ever eat enough celery to make a difference in your weight. That is true with any of the foods listed. Eat wholesome foods that are low in calories and high in nutrients, and the weight will take care of itself.
7. Certain Exercises Make You Lose Specific Fat
Have you heard that you should do sit-ups to lose belly fat? Did someone tell you to do leg lifts to get rid of thigh fat, or triceps curls to get rid of underarm fat? The fact is, exercise burns calories, but there is no way to dictate to your body where to take those calories from. You can strengthen muscles and tone muscles in a specific place, but the body will take fat stores from where it wants to, not just from the area you exercise. Develop a good whole-body workout routine, including cardiovascular exercise and strength bearing exercises. Then your entire body will be toned and healthy, even those trouble spots.
When you hear about health and fitness claims make sure you check the facts. Don’t assume that anything is true, no matter how many times you’ve heard it before. The basics of a healthy lifestyle remain the same: eat wholesome, nutritious foods and get into a good exercise routine. Weight loss and maintenance then takes care of itself!