As spring and summer near, many of us are might be feeling the pressure to slim down. But there are some common weight-loss myths that could be holding you back from your goal weight.
When it comes to shedding pounds, a few age-old myths seem to still be honored as truths so we consulted some experts “weigh” in.
“The short of it is, any plan that doesn’t involve making maintainable, healthier lifestyle choices is a myth,” says Dr. Charlie Seltzer, a weight loss specialist based in Philadelphia.
1. Going gluten-free to avoid weight gain
While those with celiac disease require a gluten-free diet, the rest of us won’t find many weight loss benefits by avoiding the protein. “If you plan on eliminating gluten to lose weight, I highly recommend a Plan B,” Seltzer warns.
He said that most processed gluten-free products just substitute sugars and fat for the gluten-containing ingredients. That often raises the calorie content and can actually cause weight gain, something he has seen in his practice. He said if people plan to eliminate gluten by cutting down on processed foods to focus on lean protein, fruit and veggies, that’s another story. As for losing weight, it will only result if you decrease your calories below what you need to maintain your weight. “And if you eat a piece of bread your head will not explode,” adds Seltzer.
2. The grapefruit diet
The theory behind this weight-loss myth is that grapefruit is a “negative calorie food” meaning that it burns more calories to eat and digest the food than the food provides. Living on grapefruits can lead to nutrient deficiencies and slow your metabolism — and set you up to regain everything you lost and then some.
“If you don’t address what caused the weight gain in the first place, you will not succeed,” Seltzer says.
3. Food combinations that spark weight loss or gain
Food-combining diets are based on the premise that different foods digest at different rates and should be consumed in groups to heighten those factors. One principle is to avoid eating protein and carbs together. “Run like the wind from a plan that says eat as much as you want as long as you don’t eat certain foods together,” Seltzer said. “There is just no evidence this causes weight loss.”
4. Eliminating carbs
While we can glean some important insights when we know about different kinds of carbohydrates, experts in the post-Atkins era say it’s OK to enjoy them.
The general thought is to avoid processed carbs that are often high in sugar and white flour, and instead consume whole grains. Some fruits and veggies also contain carbs that provide essential nutrients and fiber. Working out as a way to lose weight? Another reason to enjoy carbs, because they are used as fuel during exercise.
5. Constant grazing and snacking over big meals
Fitness guru Jillian Michaels says on her website that grazing all day cannot help people lose weight. Not only can grazing lead you to inaccurately monitor calorie intake, but it can leave you feeling unsatisfied.
“By grazing around the clock, you’re preventing your body from burning fat,” her website states. It also says that when you eat constantly, it releases insulin and puts the body into an absorptive phase so your insulin is storing sugar and preventing enzymes from releasing sugar to break down fat.
“The goal is for your body to be in “postabsorptive phase,” where it uses your energy stores for sustenance, and burns more fat,” her website states.