Are you trying to lose weight but not getting anywhere? It may be because you’re buying into common misconceptions about weight loss. Here, six dietitians weigh in on the worst myths about weight loss and the truth behind them:
Myth 1: The only way to lose weight is to avoid carbs.
Fact: You can’t ditch carbohydrates if you hope to eat a healthy diet. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend three eating patterns: the healthy U.S. style, the healthy Mediterranean style and the healthy vegetarian style.
“Carbohydrate-rich foods, such as vegetables (including beans and peas), fruits and whole grains, are the foundation of each of these healthy eating patterns,” notes Andrea Dunn, RD, LD, CDE. “And remember that fiber is a carbohydrate. If you avoid carbs, your fiber intake will plummet.”
Myth 2: It doesn’t matter what you eat as long as you count calories.
Fact: What you eat does matter. Counting calories encourages you to obsess about quantity over quality. Eventually, the quality of your diet will suffer, and so will your health, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD.
“The key is to stay within an appropriate range of calories for the amount of fuel you’re burning,” she says. “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 discourage binge-eating.
Myth 3: If you want to lose weight, you’ll have to go hungry.
Fact: You may think that losing weight means skipping meals and snacks, and feeling hungry all day. But that just leads to irritability, frustration and, ultimately, going off your diet and quickly regaining weight.
“The first rule of dieting is: No skipping meals!” says Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD. “This just makes your body try to hold onto fuel more efficiently by slowing down your metabolism, and often triggers overeating (typically the wrong foods) later in the day.”
Instead, eat a healthy snack or mini-meal every three to four hours during the day, she suggests. Focus on lean protein and produce (1 ounce of nuts, Greek yogurt with berries, carrots with hummus). “If these don’t appeal to you, then you’re not really hungry,” she says. “You’re just craving a treat.”
Keep hunger at bay to set yourself up for long-term success. You’ll be in a better mood, too.