Common Weight Loss Myths

There are many ideas when it comes to losing weight. Here are some of the most popular things to not believe when it comes to weight loss.

Myth 1: A high-protein/low-carb diet is the way to weight loss.

Fact: As the name suggests, a major part of the daily calorie requirement in this diet is obtained from protein foods like meat, eggs and dairy products, with only a very small fraction coming from carbohydrates (bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, fruits, etc.). Though such a diet brings about rapid weight loss in some, it is not one of the healthiest ways to lose weight because of the following reasons:

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A severely carbohydrates-restrictive diet not being balanced results in deficiency of essential nutrients and micronutrients in the body. Some of the healthiest foods like fruits, vegetables and grains are forbidden. This makes the diet completely devoid of the all important dietary fiber, which plays a key role in eliminating body wastes and controlling blood sugar and cholesterol levels. A part of the rapid weight loss comes from lean muscle mass loss and water loss too, not just from fat loss. A high-protein diet being based on animal products is invariably high in fats and cholesterol. A high-protein diet is very taxing for the kidneys as they overwork to eliminate the excess wastes formed by digestion of all those extra proteins and fats. In the long run this can result in dehydration, headaches, nausea, dizziness and other kidney problems. Since most of the common popular foods are forbidden, this diet can soon become monotonous, forcing people to quit it midway.

Myth 2: Fad diets can give you permanent weight loss.

Fact: Fad diets are nothing more than what the name suggests - just fads, and fads don't last long. In fact, any diet that severely restricts some food group or the other becomes nutritionally unbalanced and hence unhealthy.

A good weight loss diet, despite being calorie-restrictive, should be able to provide all the essential nutrients and micronutrients the body requires for functioning. And calorie restriction should be achieved by cutting out the nutrition-less fluff from the diet (e.g. sugary drinks and fried snacks). Fad diets fail to give permanent weight loss, because the weight loss comes mostly from fluid loss and not from fat loss. Moreover, people tend to ditch such diets because they are so restrictive.

The best way to lose weight permanently is through optimum exercise and sensible eating - eat the right foods and avoid foods that add calories without providing any nourishment to the body.

Myth 3: Low-fat or zero-fat foods are a good idea.

Fact: Be careful about the commercially available low-fat foods - though they may be low in fat, they can still be high in calories due to the extra sugars, starches or condiments added to them to enhance their taste. The only natural low-fat foods that are also low in calories are fruits and vegetables. Moreover, your body requires a certain amount of fats to carry out important body functions. Just make sure to get your fats from healthy sources.

Myth 4: Becoming a vegetarian will help you lose weight and stay healthy.

Fact: If you think that just switching to a vegetarian diet will help you lose weight and stay healthy, you couldn't be more wrong. The fact is that no diet plan, vegetarian or non-vegetarian, is going to work unless you take control of your eating habits and ensure that anything that goes down your gullet is the right type of food.

There are countless obese and unhealthy vegetarians in the world. The key lies in ensuring that your diet provides all the nutrients and calories that your body requires. Filling your stomach with loads of nutritionally empty foods is not going to do any good even if they are vegetarian foods.

Another thing with foods of plant origin is that they are nutritionally less dense that meat, and so you would have to eat in larger amounts - this could cause stomach expansion; so eat smaller portions but more often. Deficiency of vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, calcium and zinc is another problem that needs to be addressed by vegetarians who avoid all kinds of dairy products too. You may have to obtain these nutrients from some uncommon plant sources or from vitamin-mineral supplements.

Myth 5: Dairy products make you fat and are bad for health.

Fact: This is the biggest diet myth that needs to be busted. If dairy products were that bad, the French people, who eat large quantities of cheese along with wine, wouldn't be one of the healthiest people in the world. Or could it be wine that undoes the harm?

Whatever the case, one thing is for sure: dairy products are the main source of calcium needed by the body to maintain bone health. Calcium is indispensable for growing children and equally essential for adults too. Vitamin D, which plays a key role in maintaining optimal levels of calcium and phosphorus in the body, also comes from dairy products.

The only thing you should be careful about is to avoid full-fat dairy products, as they are loaded with saturated fats and cholesterol, which can ruin your cardiovascular health as well as unnecessarily increase your calorie intake. Choose the low-fat or skimmed varieties. Of course, if you are lactose-intolerant you have no option but to shun dairy products. In that case you can opt for soymilk.

So, now you know much more than most people about losing weight and what makes sense and what doesn't. Knowledge of what works will help you no matter what diet you're following.



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