7 Myths of Dieting
Common diet myths are not only ineffective, but they can be dangerous to your health.
There's a long list of supposedly sure-fire tricks to losing weight fast, and it seems like a new one is "discovered" every day. Whether it's online, on TV, in pop-culture magazines, or at the watercooler, everyone has an opinion on how to lose weight. But how do you separate myth from fact? Healthline can help. Here are some common diet myths that not only don't work, but may actually be harmful to your health.
Click through the slideshow to debunk dieting myths.
Grapefruit. Celery. Cabbage soup. Although these are touted as "negative calorie" and "fat-burning" foods, there's really no such thing. In other words, you can't follow up a hamburger with a bowl of cabbage soup and expect the soup to burn off the fat from the burger. On the other hand, if you replace high-calorie foods with low-calorie foods and exercise regularly, you will start to lose weight. So yes, switch out your breakfast muffin with a grapefruit—just don't expect the grapefruit to do all the work for you.
Skip Meals to Lose Weight
Skipping meals is actually dangerous, and crash dieting just doesn't work. When you eat only celery for two weeks, for example, you don't burn the fat off your body; you burn lean muscle, causing your body to go into "starvation mode." In other words, your body learns to need fewer calories on a daily basis. So when you stop dieting or fasting, you'll likely gain back the weight even faster than you lost it. In addition, skipping meals deprives your body of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
Fat is Bad For You
Not all fat is bad for you; in fact, health experts believe that about one-third of your energy should come from fat. Unsaturated fats from foods like avocado, seafood, and olive oil can lower cholesterol and assist in transporting fat soluble vitamins A, E, D, and K throughout body. Bad fats are saturated and trans fats found in fried foods, cookies, margarine, and anything labeled "partially hydrogenated." The key is to avoid the bad fats and make sure that fat-free foods are actually low in calories.
The Magic Diet Pill
There's no such thing as a magic diet or weight-loss pill. The only time you should ever use drugs to help lose weight is if you have a doctor-verified problem such as an endocrine disorder. Not only are weight-loss drugs unlikely to work in the long run, they can also be severely dangerous. Consider the case of Fen-phen, an popular weight-loss pill in the 1990's. Users of Fen-phen started reporting severe and permanent heart problems and in 1997, the FDA forced its withdrawal from the market.
Water Flushes Fat
The claims floating around that water "flushes the fat" out of your system is just not true. Yes, water is important to your overall health, but drinking a ton of water will not cause weight loss. Too much water can even be dangerous; water intoxication lowers the electrolyte balance in your body and can be a real medical emergency. What does help you lose weight is replacing high-sugar sodas and other sweetened drinks with water. Replace one can of Coca-Cola with a glass of water, for example, and you've just cut 140 calories.
No Pain, No Gain
A healthy diet plan should be accompanied by physical activity, and this is the kind of myth that scares people away from exercise. But it doesn't have to be painful to be effective. Studies show that that intensity is less important than the total amount of exercise done and that intermittent exercise is just as effective as continuous exercise. You should be shooting for at least moderate intensity—a brisk walk will do—for a successful workout.
Eating Late Causes Weight Gain
It's not when you eat, it's what you eat. People will tell you that if you eat late in the evening, your body will store all the fat because you aren't moving or engaged in any activity at night to burn it off. This is simply not true. What matters is the total amount you eat and how physically active you are in a 24-hour period. Before you eat, whether at lunch or right before bedtime, think about the total calories you will eat or have eaten that day.
Choose a Diet that Works for You
Remember, there's no one-size-fits-solution to weight loss. Now that you know what doesn't work, the next step is to figure out what does.
Start by getting expert advice on choosing a diet plan, then read nearly two dozen popular diet reviews. After you have a diet picked out, visit the Diet & Weight Loss Learning Center to get lots of tips on ways to stick to it so you reach your ultimate weight and fitness goals.