If you are trying to shed a few pounds and are confused about all the different information available everywhere, then rest assured you are not alone! It can be extremely confusing to read so many conflicting views but I'm here to set the record straight! As a registered nutritionist I'm going to share with you some of the greatest myths about losing weight based on the latest scientific research. Ready to be surprise? Read on!
Myth n° 1: the only way to lose weight is to cut out carbs.
Fact: Your body needs carbohydrates to stay healthy. However, the thing that is important is the type of carbohydrate you choose to eat. Carbohydrate-rich foods, such as vegetables (including beans and peas), fruits and wholegrains form the basis of any healthy eating pattern (e.g. the Mediterranean Diet) and play a key role in any weight loss plan. Remember that fibre is a carbohydrate, so if you avoid carbs, your fibre intake will plummet which will in turn result in all sorts of adverse side effects such as constipation and may lead to more serious conditions including diverticulosis, haemorrhoids and even cancer.
Myth n° 2: counting calories is all that matters
It is the belief that if you count calories it doesn't matter what you eat.
Fact: What you eat does matter. Counting calories encourages you to obsess about quantity over quality. For example, if you eat 300 calories worth of doughnuts, then your body simply isn't get the nutrients it needs, not to mention the sugar/fat content which will wreak havoc with your body. Eventually, the quality of your diet will suffer, and so will your health.
The key of course is to stay within an appropriate range of calories for the amount of fuel you’re burning (which is why exercise is also of vital importance) if you want to lose weight. But you also need to stick to a nutrient-dense diet that won’t make your insulin and blood sugar cry out for help. Foods that keep blood sugar stable help you feel satisfied and therefore will help to prevent any binge-eating or cravings.
Myth n° 3: If you want to lose weight, you’ll have to go hungry.
Fact: Some people believe that the only way to lose weight is to drastically reduce the amount of food you are eating, or even skipping meals and that inevitably you will feel hungry most of the time. However, that just leads to irritability, frustration and, ultimately, going off your diet and quickly regaining weight.
To lose weight effectively and sustainably, the most important thing is not to skip meals. This is counterproductive as it makes your body go into "starvation" mode where it will try to hold on to fuel more efficiently by slowing down your metabolism. Therefore you body will store whatever food you are eating in case food doesn't become available again. This also often triggers overeating (typically the wrong foods) later in the day.
Instead, you should focus on giving your body the nutrients it needs to function properly (and therefore use that food as energy to carry out the various functions it needs to) by eating regularly (every three to four hours).
Each meal should include a portion of protein (the body's building blocks) so for example if you eat some fruit, have a yoghurt or handful of nuts with it. And remember to ask yourself whether you're really hungry or just craving something. If you don't want a few carrot sticks with houmous or some chopped apple and peanut butter, but would love that slice of chocolate cake, the chances are you are not really hungry but just after a sweet treat!
If you keep hunger at bay, you'll not only be setting yourself up for long-term success, you'll be in a better mood too.
Myth n°4: Cutting fat from my diet will help me to lose weight
FACT: Avoiding fat doesn’t lead to weight loss. In fact, it often leads to weight gain. The latest research has found that foods containing healthy fat don’t make you fat — on the contrary, they can speed up your metabolism and help you shed unwanted pounds.
What's more, people who cut fats from their diet tend to feel hungrier and replace those calories with added sugar and refined grains. This contributes to a slow metabolism, drives inflammation and plays havoc with your blood sugar levels leading to excess belly fat.
Of course what you do need to do is pay attention to the type of fat you are eating: opt for healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats which will lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol (HDL).
These fats also lower inflammation levels and prevent hardening of the arteries (so key for cardiovascular health).
Good sources of monounsaturated fats include avocados, nuts and olives, and polyunsaturated fats include walnuts, fatty fish, and soymilk.