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Shedding Light on the Top 5 Myths About Diet and Weight Loss

Top 5 Diet and Weight Loss Myths
If you’re like many people, getting your weight under control is a major priority. It is the top New Year’s resolution for over 20 percent of people. They go into it with the best of intentions, yet over two-thirds of members never use their gym memberships. A lot of the disconnect rests with the myths about diet and weight loss. Let’s tease the myths from the real facts to get to the truth.

Shedding Light on the Top 5 Myths About Diet and Weight Loss

Myths about diet and weight loss#1: Diets That Limit Intake of a Certain Food Group Work.

The Atkins Diet took the world by storm with the publication of Dr. Robert C. Atkins book, Diet Revolution in 1972. The premise sounded simple. If you limit the carbs you eat, you’ll lose weight. That’s because the human body stores excess carbohydrates as fat. Fat isn’t a player when it comes to metabolism. Muscle burns more calories because it’s actively engaged and uses energy.

The truth be told, you may lose weight in the short term. However, that’s not an effective solution for a healthy lifestyle. It sets up a pattern of yo-yo dieting which can increase your risk of heart disease. That’s not a good reason for being able to fit into your little black dress.

Also, think about how you’ll feel mentally following such a diet. Many people fall off the wagon because they end up feeling deprived. It’s not fun munching on celery when everyone around you is eating pizza. Eating is an enjoyable experience; don’t make it something negative.

Myths about diet and weight loss #2: Fit and Overweight Is a Thing.

The idea that you can be overweight and still enjoy good health is one of the more insidious of weight loss myths out there. It’s just marketing that caters to the over 70 percent of people who are overweight. Being heavy increases your risk of a number of health conditions including:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Some cancers
  • Stroke

That is not even counting the other dings on your quality of life such as mobility, absenteeism, and loss of productivity. If you’re overweight, it’s essential that you take steps to get your weight under control.

Myths about diet and weight loss #3: Diet Sodas Help You Lose Weight.

Diet sodas are another area where marketing has deceived people into thinking that they were taking control of their health. Okay, so drinking a can of Coca-Cola will set you back 140 calories. It would seem obvious that going for a drink with 1 or even 0 calories makes sense, not even taking into account the sugar difference. On the surface, that is true. But it’s more complicated than that.

Artificial sweeteners work by stimulating your taste buds that you’re drinking something sweet, i.e., with calories. The failure of that payoff increases your desire to consume more. It’s the perfect storm when you combine it with a basket of fries or a double cheeseburger. But, wait, there’s more.

A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found a link between diet soda consumption and an increase in belly fat. We’re talking triple the amount. That can set you up for a greater risk of heart disease. Another study by Framingham Heart Study (FHS) showed a heightened risk of stroke and dementia. You might want to ask for a glass of water instead.

Myths about diet and weight loss #4: If You Exercise, What You Eat Isn’t a Problem.

We’re not suggesting that you don’t work out. The recommendations for physical activity call for 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise each week. What we are saying is that it’s not a be-all, end-all solution to weight loss. Let’s consider the math. You decide that you can’t give up your three cans of coke a day. That adds up to an extra 420 calories a day.

You figure you can work out to make up the difference. Well, that’s fine too, but think about what that means. You’d have to walk for nearly an hour and a half to burn off those calories. That shows the difference between optimistic and realistic.

Myth #5: All Sugar Is Bad.

Beware of all-or-nothing statements like that one. The fact is that you need sugar in your diet. Your brain may only weigh about three pounds, yet it uses about 20 percent of all the glucose you get from your diet. Without adequate energy, your brain can’t operate at peak efficiency. Nerve cells don’t like having a lack of glucose. If you don’t get enough, you’re setting yourself up for disease.

It boils down to getting the right types of sugar. That means instead of cookies, it’s sugar from fruits and vegetables. Also, it’s complex carbs from whole grains. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans has some sobering statistics about the current American diet. It lacks many of the important elements of healthy eating. Their findings include:

  • Less than 20 percent of people get the recommended servings of vegetables each day.
  • Less than 30 percent get enough fruit.
  • Over 60 percent get more than the recommended amount of added sugars (the bad kind).
  • Over 80 percent get too much sodium.

There is a good side to increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables you get. They are nutrient-dense, meaning that you’re getting more bang for your buck. They have a lot fewer calories—as long as you don’t go overboard on the butter or other extras. And there are so many health benefits that come from eating well.

Bonus Tip

Maintaining a healthy weight is a challenge. It’s complicated by the fact that we have so many choices. Also, technology and other lifestyle factors have contributed to a more sedentary life. The best way to shed the pounds is a combination of diet and exercise. It means setting up SMART goals that are realistic and manageable.

And when it comes to diet, focus on making lifestyle changes rather than following the latest fad diet. Make healthy eating a habit. You’re more likely to succeed in the long run if you follow this simple plan. Take charge of your health and head on down that road to wellness.

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