From skipping meals to hitting the gym harder than The Rock, there are many myths out there spreading misinformation about how to lose weight that you should be wary of. Losing weight in an unhealthy way can actually do more damage than good, which is why we’re here to share some of the most common myths surrounding weight loss and to guide you through healthier alternatives so you can reach your goals.
Eating carbs won’t lead to weight gain provided you enjoy carbohydrates as part of a well-balanced diet (and don’t add lots of butter or creamy sauces to them!). Try whole grain carbohydrate options (such as wholemeal bread and brown rice) and try to increase your fibre intake by eating potatoes with their skins on.
You should also avoid eating too many fried foods containing carbohydrates (such as fries) as these will contain more fat and can slow down digestion.
Crash dieting and not eating enough throughout the day won’t only prevent you from getting all the nutrients you need to give you enough energy, it can also lead to weight gain further down the line.
Wrong! Skipping meals is not recommended for those wanting to lose weight and keep it off. You can expect weight loss from burning more calories than you’re consuming, not from totally cancelling out meals which contain essential nutrients to give you energy.
Moreover, if you decide to skip meals, you may be more tempted to snack on high-sugar and high-fat foods which could lead to weight gain if you’re not working out enough.
Whilst they may advertise themselves as perfectly safe to use, the reality is that not all slimming pills will be, and they won’t necessarily be effective either. Many slimming tablets will be available on prescription if you visit your GP, but unlicensed weight loss products can contain potentially harmful ingredients and have negative side effects.
Snacking itself isn’t bad for you, however, unhealthy snacks and junk food will prevent you from losing weight. In fact, those who are active should snack more between their meals as a way of maintaining energy. Instead of reaching for a chocolate bar, opt for some fruit or vegetables to munch on as these will settle your hunger without overloading you with sugar, fat and salt.
It might seem like kicking yourself into overdrive and working out a lot is an effective way of losing weight - whilst it’s true that exercise is essential for weight loss and will lead to more calories being burned, it’s unlikely to be sustainable. Making smaller changes to your diet and routine that you can realistically stick to will be much more effective.
It’s advised that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week (or 75 minutes of high-intensity workouts) such as running, dancing or swimming.
Drinking water has plenty of benefits for you, but it doesn’t directly lead to weight loss. Water is important for keeping yourself hydrated and maintaining a healthy lifestyle - it’s recommended that you drink six to eight glasses of water each day.
If you’re shopping and you find yourself tempted by food which promises to be ‘low in fat’ or has ‘reduced fat’, just be mindful that products simply need to contain less than a certain amount of fat to legally state this in their labelling. They aren’t necessarily healthier options and you’ll find that some low-fat foods will contain more sugar.
Moreover, there’s a lot of foods out there which are advertised as being healthy (such as fat-free or low-fat snacks) but you should always take the claims made on food packaging with a pinch of salt, particularly with processed foods.
Weight loss diets are rarely sustainable and they won’t always get you the results you’re looking for. In fact, many experts believe that around 80% of those who diet will gain back the weight they’ve lost. This is because we need sustainable diets and exercise regimes to follow in our daily lives. Whilst you might initially see yourself shed some pounds by following a crash diet, you’ll probably struggle to continue to lose weight and pile the pounds back on after a matter of weeks.
Unless you have coeliacs disease or a gluten sensitivity, switching to a gluten-free diet is not considered to be a healthier option. You can still find many gluten-free foods which are high in fat and sugar that can lead to weight gain, therefore, the important part of a healthy diet is to consider the food choices as a whole, not whether it contains gluten or not.
You need to approach losing weight with the right mindset. Going in all guns blazing with a dieting mindset might hold you back in the long run. You need to be thinking about your personal goals and ways you’d like to permanently change your lifestyle so that you can be a more motivated, happy and healthy individual.
Whether you want to lose weight so you can be more active with your family or because you’re worried about your health, your goals need to be SMART (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) if you want to be in control of your health and wellbeing.
Eating better, more balanced meals combined with exercise is key - if you want to lose weight healthily and maintain your progress, you need to be doing both. Remember to start small, perhaps start by taking walks during your lunch break and cut down on any junk food - opting for more fruits and vegetables.
Keeping a diary can be a great way to monitor your progress and stay on track. You can make note of the foods you’ve eaten during the day, any exercises you’ve completed as well as how you’re feeling. Try not to focus too much on the numbers here, it’s not just about shedding pounds, it’s about making healthier lifestyle choices which will be sustainable and improve your general health and wellbeing.
Any amount of weight loss, whether it’s two pounds or six is something to be celebrated. You should also try and notice any changes in your mood, as eating healthy foods and working out is sure to have a positive impact on your wellbeing too.
It doesn’t matter if you feel as though you’re struggling or not, you can always get support from friends, family and health professionals to guide you on your weight loss journey. Here at LiveWell Dorset, our team of coaches and advisors are on hand to help you reach your goals.
Why not read our blog on how to stay motivated when losing weight for more ideas on how to successfully lose weight?
If you live in Dorset and you think you may need to lose weight, we’re here to help. Our friendly team of health advisors and coaches can offer you support and guidance each step of the way, so you can learn about simple ways to get active and how to make manageable diet changes to reach your weight loss goals.
You could also be eligible for three-months of support from your local Slimming World or WW group. Find out more about our weight-loss voucher scheme here.