It’s safe to assume the great majority of us have tried some form or another of dieting in the past. Maybe even a few different diets. The reason that these attempts may have been unsuccessful might be due to the many trends and misconceptions regarding weight loss that ultimately lead to dead ends. We have compiled a few of the most common and persistent of these myths and checked what professional nutritionists and health experts had to say about them. These are the seven nutrition and weight loss myths that may be holding you back from attaining your goals and leading a healthy lifestyle.
1. Dietary supplements burn fat
If your diet lacks certain vitamins or minerals, there is nothing wrong with consuming it as a supplement. However, the notion that such supplements will help you lose weight is misguided, according to dietitians. Sellers of these supplements might claim that their products help you lose weight by blocking the absorption of fat or carbohydrates, curbing your appetite, or speeding up your metabolism. But there’s little scientific evidence that they actually work.
Moreover, taking a specific supplement or vitamin that is not necessarily right for you or consuming high doses can be harmful. If you are interested in adding dietary supplements to your diet, consult your healthcare provider. This is especially important if you have high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, or other medical conditions
2. The fewer calories the better
One of the most common and pervasive weight loss myths is the belief that it’s all about calories. It seems to make perfect mathematical sense, burn more than you consume, eat considerably less, and the pounds will come off. But in fact, study after study shows that in the long run, this is rarely effective.
Everyone has a set point or a weight range in which the brain wants to keep the body. This weight range varies from person to person and is determined by both genes and life experiences. When you attempt to eat fewer calories than your body needs, metabolism actually slows down as your body attempts to conserve energy. As you continue to eat less than you need, your body starts to break down muscle to use for energy. This muscle loss causes the metabolism to slow further, so you burn even fewer calories.
3. You should avoid all carbs and fats
As previously suggested, the key to a healthy and nutritious diet is balance. When you completely cut out one substance, for example, carbs, you’re probably consuming too many fats to compensate and vice versa, according to Kristin Kirkpatrick lead dietitian and manager of wellness nutrition services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute in Cleveland Ohio.
The truth is both carbs and fats are required nutrients, and it’s overconsumption that is the culprit for weight gain. “For weight loss, a basic rule of thumb is to limit your carb intake to about 1 cup per meal (about the size of a coffee mug or woman’s fist),” says dietitian Julia Zumpano. Fats have a beneficial effect on health, as long as you eat them in moderation.
4. A tablespoon of coconut oil a day promotes weight loss
Coconut oil may be great for cooking and skincare, but you should definitely refrain from consuming it every day. If we could believe everything we read on the internet, we’d embrace coconut oil as a wonder food that can conquer belly fat, but in reality, this belief has essentially no scientific proof. Moreover, one tablespoon of coconut oil contains about 120 calories and 14 grams of fat, and about 80 to 90 percent of coconut oil is saturated fat. As such, consuming it daily can have negative effects on your cholesterol levels and heart health.
5. It’s better to have 6 small meals a day
This tip can prove helpful to some individuals, experts say, especially if this routine fits in your daily lifestyle or you need to track your sugar levels. That being said, a study published in the British Journal for Nutrition found that increased meal frequency did not promote greater weight loss compared to less frequent meals, the contents of which add up to the same energy levels. A different study even indicated that eating meals more frequently might prompt some people to eat more.
The reason, according to Kirkpatrick, is the subjective definitions different people have of a ‘small meal’. “When one doesn’t define a small meal correctly, this advice can easily turn into a bad one.”
6. Have a singular food item as a meal
Some food items can serve as healthy snacks, like apples, for example. Every now and again a there is a fad that says one single food item is the ultimate meal. But if you try to have an apple or cabbage as a substitute for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you’re depriving your body of essential vitamins and minerals that can only be acquired through a diverse meal.
On top of not being healthy, this practice isn’t sustainable. Repeatedly replacing a whole meal for a singular food item is bound to become boring, and any weight lost that way will be near impossible to maintain.