By Gretchen Powell
I have been through more diets, health trends, and attempted “lifestyle changes” than you can shake a stick at. And somewhere along the path between the first time I tried Atkins and that week I spent following the Cabbage Soup Diet, I started to figure out that there are some definite weight-loss myths still floating around out there. I’m here to help you debunk some of the most common (and fallacious!) of them.
Myth #1: Skipping meals will help you lose weight.
Busted! Skipping meals and snacks will cause your metabolism to slow down and make your calorie-burning ability less effective. Eating smaller, nutritious meals every three to four hours (lean protein and high-fiber carbohydrates) is far more conducive to keeping your metabolism high and will increase your ability to lose weight while keeping you full and satisfied. In fact, when I started eating more frequent, smaller meals, I felt like I was eating more than when I was trying to skip meals in attempts to skip calories.
Myth #2: Don’t eat past 8 p.m.
Busted! Caloric deficit is as caloric deficit does, regardless of the actual times you’re consuming those calories. So if you’ve hit 8 p.m. and you’ve only consumed 1,200 calories that day, go ahead and have a snack if you’re hungry! The only problem occurs if you are prone to late-night snacking when you’re not hungry. Any time you are eating when you’re not hungry will probably hinder your weight loss. It doesn’t really matter what time of day you stop eating as long as you’re still creating a window for weight loss.
Myth #3: Going gluten-free will help you lose weight.
Busted! Going gluten-free may be a necessity if you have Celiac Disease or a gluten intolerance, but it won’t help you lose weight on its own – unless there’s a caloric deficit being created anyway. But cutting gluten out of your diet alone will not result in weight loss. In fact, gluten-free products tend to be higher in calories compared to their gluten-inclusive counterparts. The sheer act of cutting a group of foods out of your diet is never a guarantee that you’ll lose weight (with a variation of the exception for carbs, but we’ll address that next.)
Myth #4: Bread makes you fat.
Busted! Carbs rock. They’re delicious. And as a former Atkins devotee, I can also tell you that while yes, you can and probably will lose weight if you cut all carbs out of your diet, it won’t last. The minute you start eating bread, pasta, potatoes, or sugar again, you’ll start gaining the weight back. In fact, if you’re a carb-oholic like me, you’ll probably end up gaining more weight than you lost because you felt so deprived of all that glorious carb-y goodness for so long! Carbs are a source of energy for our bodies, and they make us feel happy and satisfied (actually increasing the levels of serotonin in our brains, which is why it’s so easy to go overboard on them!). Just try to ensure that the majority of the carbs in your diet come from whole-grain, high-fiber sources.
So there you have it, four weight loss myths debunked – at least from this professional dieter’s point of view! Of course, as long as what you’re doing is healthy and is working for you, the mythology is just all part of the “fun” of the diet game.
Gretchen Powell is a fitness and healthy living blogger in Falls Church. She is not a registered dietitian, nutritionist, or medical doctor, and a medical professional should be consulted before undertaking dramatic diet changes. For more, visit honeyishrunkthegretchen.com.