From eating certain foods to speed up your metabolism, to drinking water to aid your weight loss, there are some common rules dieters tend to follow – but which aren’t actually backed up by much scientific fact.
Steve Ahern, MuscleFood.com’s personal trainer and weight loss guru, said: “When it comes to losing weight, people are generally happy to do whatever they think is going to get them the results quickest, with little-to-no effort involved.
“Unfortunately, this isn’t how people successfully drop the pounds and manage to keep them off.
“Most people are incredibly misinformed when it comes to diet and fitness and are happy to listen and adhere to whatever the latest craze or trend tells them to do.”
So what are the common lies we tend to believe? Here’s 10 of the most common:
‘Low-fat’ or ‘reduced fat’ foods are always the healthiest choices
If a food is labelled as ‘low-fat’ or ‘reduced fat’, it should contain less fat than the full-fat version, but that doesn’t mean it’s automatically a healthy choice. These foods have to contain no more than a specific amount of fat to legally be allowed to use that label, but you should check the label anyway as some low-fat foods may actually contain higher levels of sugar, for example.
Some foods can speed up (or slow down) your metabolism
It is claimed that certain foods and drinks can increase your metabolism by helping the body to burn more calories and aid weight loss – but there is actually little scientific evidence for this.
Drinking water helps you lose weight
Water is essential for good health and wellbeing, but it does not directly cause you to lose weight. Sometimes, thirst can be mistaken for hunger, so drinking lots of water might help you snack less as well as keeping you hydrated, assisting your weight loss this way instead.
Skipping meals will help you lose weight
To lose weight and keep it off, you have to reduce the amount of calories you consume and increase the calories you burn – but skipping meals altogether can result in tiredness and you missing out on essential nutrients, and it could also lead you to snack more.
Carbs make you fat
Although it is a scientific fact that low-carb diets can help with weight loss, this does not mean that carbs cause weight gain and we should completely steer clear of the bread basket, per se. Refined carbs (like refined grains and sugar) are definitely linked to weight gain, but whole, single ingredient foods that are high in carbs are actually very good for you.
A detox is a good way to make a clean start
Detox diets are very similar to crash diets in that they restrict certain food groups and can sometimes deprive the body of adequate calories and nutrition for a period of time. But actually, detox diets are notorious for causing weight gain as, when the body feels deprived and then foods are reintroduced, our bodies will regain more weight by preparing for another starvation or restriction.
All calories are equal
There are high-quality calories (ones that come with nutrients and fibre, for example) and low-quality ones, which means that what you eat is just as important as how much you eat. So no, you can’t have two chocolate bars for lunch just because they’re under 600 calories.
You can’t enjoy alcohol whilst trying to lose weight
Alcohol contains hundreds of ‘hidden’ calories, so many weight loss plans recommend that people really cut back on the booze – or steer clear completely – if they want to ditch the pounds. But whilst heavy drinking has been linked to weight gain, light and moderate drinking isn’t as often seen to have the same effect. Though it’s worth keeping in mind that people can react differently to the same drinks – for some people, the odd glass of wine won’t have a big effect, but for others it might – so everything in moderation.
Slimming pills are a quick and easy route to weight loss
Whilst there are a number of prescribed medicines available from your GP for weight management, there are also hundreds of other un-prescribed and unlicensed weight loss products which may contain ingredients that are harmful to your health. Also, whilst weight loss aids might help you lose weight fast, they are not a good option for keeping the pounds off because as soon as you stop taking the pills you will likely pile all the weight back on again.
It’s fine to have cheat days
When you’ve been following a strict healthy eating and exercise plan, you may find yourself slipping up every now and again – this is completely normal and rewarding yourself with your favourite meal or sweet treat is actually encouraged from time to time. But entire days dedicated to gorging on all the food you’ve been carefully avoiding can actually stall your weight loss. Instead of scheduling cheat days, stick with cheat meals or small treats that don’t derail the progress you’ve made.