5 Weight Loss Myths You Can Stop Believing Now
The Truth: It could push your weight in the wrong direction. The greater the variety of foods people ate, the more weight they gained over the course of five years, according to a recent study in PLOS ONE. The less diversity in the diet, the fewer pounds packed on. "Its counterintuitive to what you hear all the time, but it makes sense given that a diet that's rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy offers less variety than the highly processed, high-fat and high-sugar Western diet that we're used to," says Kelly Pritchett, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Keep This in Mind Too: It's not that you can never stray from your go-to roster of healthy foods. But if you're going to mix things up while you're out to dinner, for example, take a close look at the ingredients and cooking method to make sure the dish doesn't stray too far from your overall eating plan, says Joy Dubost, RD, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
The Truth: Every body processes foods—even the same ones—in it's own way. Researchers in Israel recently found that identical breakfasts led to different changes in blood sugar levels (which impact your cravings and your appetite) among the 800 people they studied. Meaning, just because your friend dropped 10 pounds going low-fat, low-carb, low-whatever doesn't mean you'll have the same happy results—even if you follow her plan to a tee.
Keep This in Mind Too: Gut bacteria may play an important role in how blood sugar responds to the foods to you eat, according to the researchers. Ask your doctor about adding more probiotic-rich foods to your diet or taking a probiotic supplement to build up a healthy microbiome.
The Truth: "Calories from sugars contribute to weight gain no matter if they come from a natural source or not," says Ashley Koff, RD, a dietitian in Washington, DC. That's because your body still metabolizes them as added white sugar, she says, which has been linked to a long list of health issues like increased risk of breast cancer and heart disease and memory problems. The bottom line: keep all added sweeteners to a minimum.
Keep This in Mind Too: As for the purported health gains of using au natural sugars, "It's true that some options like coconut sugar go through minimal processing—so they preserve more nutrients like potassium and iron—but you would need to consume huge amounts to get any benefits from them," says Pritchett.
The Truth: People tend to cut out carbohydrates when they go gluten-free, and if you do that, there's a good chance you will drop pounds initially because you'll likely be consuming fewer calories, says Koff. However, two other things will also happen. "You're probably going to be cranky and low on energy," she says. The result? You'll be less likely to move your body (which will slow your metabolism) and more likely to reach for sugar-filled, calorie-dense, gluten-free baked goods for a pick-me-up. On top of that, cutting an entire food group from your diet isn't very sustainable—which means there's a good chance you'll gain the weight back when you inevitably start eating carbs again.
Keep This in Mind Too: If you're among the people who really can't tolerate gluten (whether you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance or sensitivity) make sure you have one serving of carbs every time you eat, says Koff. That'll help keep your energy up and make your eating plan doable in the long run. "Carbs don't have to come in the form of bread or even grains," she says. There are plenty of starchy vegetables that contain carbs (hummus counts, too).
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The Truth: The calories your body burns when you eat hot peppers, celery and certain spices is too insignificant to make a dent in weight loss, according to all three nutritionists we spoke with for this story. To rev your metabolism, you're better off strength training and not skipping meals. (And avoiding these 6 mistakes.)
Keep This in Mind Too: Spices may help you shrink your portions, though. "They often prompt us to eat smaller quantities and less calories overall because they add so much flavor to food," says Koff.