With so much weight loss advice available online (and offline for that matter) things can become pretty confusing when trying to decide the best course of action you should take to reach your optimal weight.
Here’s the thing – besides the shady weight loss tips marketed as ‘shocking’, ‘ weird’ and so on, some of the ones that are not only well known, but also widely recommended by doctors, nutritionists, and other healthcare professionals are not just based on false assumptions, they could also stop your weight loss in its tracks, if not even worse.
Check out these mainstream weight loss tips and think twice before you actually decide to follow them.
Breakfast is mandatory
A lot of diet plans have at least three meals a day, and breakfast is always among them. You’ve probably also heard you HAVE TO eat breakfast from your doctor, your mom, your grandma and pretty much everyone else.
Well, you don’t! I mean, if you’re hungry in the morning, then it’s absolutely fine to eat it, otherwise, why force yourself? How can it be healthy to force food down your throat when you’re not actually hungry and how could that be good for weight loss?
Multiple studies (1, 2, 3) have shown that eating or skipping breakfast doesn’t really affect your weight. Use common sense when deciding if you’re going to eat breakfast or not and do it only because you are hungry, and not because other people are telling you to. And if you are a breakfast eater, choose mostly whole, single-ingredient foods that are rich in protein for your morning meal.
Losing weight fast is not healthy
Fast weight loss has wrongfully been associated with fad diets and other highly restrictive eating plans and the dreaded yo-yo effect. It turns out, losing weight at a faster rate is not correlated with an increased risk of regaining weight. Quite the opposite might I add since various studies show you have a higher chance at keeping the weight off if you lose it fast (4, 5, 6).
Of course, not all diets and weight loss methods are equal. While low-calorie diet plans do work they are very difficult to follow in the long run, and may even threaten your health.
Avoid foods rich in natural fat
The low fat craze might have toned down a bit, but not completely. You can still see a ton of low-fat products in grocery stores and many diets recommend eating only low-fat foods while you’re trying to lose weight.
Healthy fats from natural foods such as coconuts, avocado, olives and free-range meats are a necessary part of our nutrition and shouldn’t be avoided. A research study followed almost 50,000 women that ate a low-fat diet over the course of 7 years and it looks like during that long amount of time they managed to lose just 1 lb of weight on average. That’s a really long time to diet for such a poor result, right?
Cardio should be your main workout
Men also do cardio, but us ladies….we love it even more! That’s because we are constantly told cardio is the way to go if you want to lose weight.
Don’t get me wrong, cardio does offer numerous health benefits (I do it myself on the regular), but it’s not a universal weight loss solution. Some people lose weight at a faster rate when doing cardio compared to other forms of exercise, others can barely maintain their weight and for the rest of people cardio simply doesn’t work as a weight loss method(7,8,9).
Eat every 2-3 hours
It’s super easy to get confused as to how many meals you should eat every day. Some diets like Intermittent Fasting have you eating 2 times a day or even less (there’s a point to that and it’s not the same as starving by the way). At the opposite pole, there are meal plans which include 3 meals on a daily basis and even more.
A common weight loss myth says you should eat once every 2-3 hours in order to lose weight. The assumption is based on the fact that some of the calories you consume are used by your body to process the meal (known as the thermic effect of food) which slightly raises the metabolism.
The problem is, the thermic effect of food is directly proportional to the number of calories you eat so it really doesn’t matter if you eat 1000 calories split into three meals or all at once.
Various studies have also tested this theory and there was no statistically significant difference in weight loss for those that ate the same amount of calories in two meals versus those who consumed them split into seven(12).
There’s also no difference between eating many small meals versus three or fewer a day in regards to weight loss (13, 14). Also, if you’re having trouble with portion control, eating frequent snacks may lead to overeating.
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