Although some weight loss tips are helpful, others are ineffective, misleading, or downright harmful.
There is no shortage of weight loss advice on the internet. Here are six weight loss tips that you should ignore.
You may have heard that eating breakfast is important to boost your metabolism after sleeping through the night. As such, many people force themselves to eat in the morning, even if they’re not hungry.
There is conflicting research on whether it is a good idea to eat or skip breakfast to lose weight.
Skipping breakfast can be one form of intermittent fasting, which some people find helps them lose weight. But research shows that skipping breakfast may also cause weight gain in some cases (
The idea that eating breakfast is important for weight control may be partly due to an older National Weight Control Registry survey whose subjects had lost weight and kept it off for at least 5 years. Most of these people said they ate breakfast regularly (
However, everyone is different. Some people reap more benefits from eating breakfast than others. The current thinking is that if you’re not hungry in the morning, there’s no reason to eat breakfast.
If you are hungry, eat a breakfast high in protein so you’ll be more satisfied and less likely to overeat at lunch (
Research says that eating breakfast in the morning won’t necessarily help you lose weight. It can be good for your overall health, but there’s no need to eat in the morning unless you’re hungry. However, the quality of all your meals matters, and it’s important that you eat a balanced diet throughout the day. You may wish to speak with a registered dietitian to see whether eating breakfast would be most beneficial for you.
Juice cleanses, also known as juice fasts, are popular. Proponents claim you can lose up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) weekly and get rid of toxins.
However, little research shows that juice cleanses are safe or effective (
In one study, women drank a lemon juice and syrup mixture with less than 500 calories for 7 days. They lost weight and reduced insulin resistance (
Any diet this low in calories will cause weight loss, but it’s unlikely to produce lasting results.
A cleanse doesn’t establish healthy eating habits that are needed to keep weight loss over time.
A juice cleanse may cause fast weight loss, but it doesn’t promote the healthy habits necessary to keep the weight off.
Cardiovascular exercise, also known as cardio or aerobic exercise, reduces stress levels and benefits your heart and overall health (
However, cardio may not be the best exercise strategy for losing weight.
Weight loss response to cardiovascular exercise depends greatly on the individual. Some people lose weight in response to cardio, while others either maintain or gain a slight amount of weight (10,
The best strategy for getting fit and maintaining muscle mass while losing weight is to combine strength training with cardio (
Intense cardio is good for overall health but is not the optimal weight loss method. Try combining cardio and strength training for better results.
Despite popular opinion, not all fats are bad for your health, and avoiding all high fat foods is not good for your health and won’t necessarily help you lose weight.
Fat has twice as many calories as protein or carbs, but it’s also very filling and takes a long time to digest. Full-fat dairy products also contain a fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which research on animals has linked to lower body fat and improved insulin sensitivity (
Where fats come from also matters. For example, research shows that naturally high-in-fat plant foods, including avocados, nuts, and coconut, can aid weight loss because they provide crucial micronutrients your body needs, which can help improve metabolism (
Most low fat diets, in which fat comprises less than 30% of all calories, generally have a poorer track record than other diets, such as low carb diets, regarding weight loss (
One study did find that eating a plant-based, low fat diet containing about 10% fat and 75% carbohydrates can lead to more body fat loss than eating an animal-based, low carb diet that’s about 10% carbohydrate and 75% fat. (
In addition, eating or drinking fat-free or low fat products to cut calories could also backfire because many of these products are loaded with refined sugar.
Summary: Having healthy fat sources in your diet can help weight loss because of the satiating properties of fat. With some exceptions, the standard low fat diet has a poor track record for weight loss.
You may have heard that eating many small meals throughout the day is best to keep your metabolism up. While this belief has some research-based truth, it will more likely not benefit weight loss.
Most studies have not found evidence that eating smaller meals daily can help your metabolism. Sometimes, it can even worsen your metabolism (19).
Some studies show that eating 6 smaller meals a day can help lower the risk of obesity compared to eating just 2-3 daily meals (20). Other research suggests that eating more than three meals daily could increase your body mass index (BMI) (
The research on meal frequency and weight loss is conflicting. But the main problem with snacking or eating many small meals is that you often eat more calories than your body needs. Research shows, for example, that grazing can increase your daily calories by more than 200 (
In addition, what you also eat matters. Eating small meals composed of mostly unhealthy processed snacks makes you less likely to lose weight than choosing healthier, more natural options (
Read about healthy snack options for weight loss.
Summary It’s a myth that eating many small meals boosts metabolism compared with eating fewer, larger meals. Increased eating frequency does not necessarily help people lose weight. You may end up eating more than you need.
While people need to create a calorie deficit to lose weight, calorie intake is only part of the story.
The type of food you eat greatly affects hunger, appetite, and the hormones that control weight. These factors can affect your ability to achieve a calorie deficit.
For instance, eating a 100-calorie pack of pretzels is not the same as eating 100 calories of vegetables. Pretzels are made of refined carbs, which can raise blood sugar levels, cause hunger, and lead to overeating (
By contrast, getting the same calories from high protein foods results in hormone changes that lead to increased fullness and reduced hunger (
When it comes to looking at carbs versus fat, the picture is less clear. Some studies have demonstrated that calorie intake naturally decreases when you restrict carbs and that weight loss is greater on low carb diets than on low fat diets (
A randomized-controlled study examining a plant-based, low fat diet containing about 10% fat and 75% carbohydrate compared to an animal-based, low carb diet that’s about 10% carbohydrate and 75% fat also examined how many calories the subjects ultimately consumed. Among 20 adults of an average age of 29, those who ate foods from the low fat diet were to eat 550-700 fewer calories (
Both diets contained 14% protein, and the subjects on the low fat diet lost more weight. However, they also showed higher blood sugar and insulin, demonstrating that weight loss and calories cannot be the only determinants of health.
Even if calories were the only thing that mattered, it’s difficult to accurately gauge how many you’re eating. Research has shown that people can underestimate their true food intake by 11-41% (
Summary A calorie deficit can be important for weight loss, but the source and quality of food quality are more important when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off.
Although everyone is unique and there are differences among individuals, certain recommendations for weight loss don’t work for most people.
It is best to work with a registered dietitian to find the best recommendations for weight loss that will work for you.