Losing weight can be a daunting task for which you may have to alter your food habits, everyday routine, and even your lifestyle. Many quick-fix solutions are available, but they may not really work for everyone or may backfire and cause health issues. Moreover, adopting an unscientific weight-loss plan or crash diet can hinder your fitness regime, reduce your immunity levels, and even affect your metabolism, which makes weight loss a distant dream.
Losing weight must be a calculated, gradual process if it has to benefit you in the long run. Even the small and seemingly insignificant things can ultimately contribute to weight loss. But, more importantly, you must be aware of the myths that surround the concept of weight loss, which can frequently mislead you and derail your objective. Here, we debunk the common myths and provide you with scientific facts.
Myth 1: Eliminate Carbs From Your Diet To Lose Weight
Fact: Not all carbs are unhealthy and they are actually essential for various bodily functions.
Most low-carb diets are designed to help you lose weight. But, depriving your body entirely of carbohydrates can become an obstacle on your path to weight loss. Although you may initially shed a few pounds on a low-carb diet, soon your body begins to burn up its own energy reserves resulting in you losing more of water weight rather than fat. However, when you return to your normal intake levels, you’ll just get back the weight you lost.
Avoiding all carbs, which are the body’s main source of energy, only results in your body converting your muscle protein into glucose to compensate for the energy loss. Since the protein gets converted into energy, you may end up losing some muscle mass. This results in a slower metabolism, which makes it difficult to lose weight.
However, in the interest of losing weight, it’s good to avoid refined carbs, which provide you very little in terms of nutrition. Many studies have shown that substituting refined carbs with whole grains may help you with gradual weight loss.1 So, avoid the refined carbs and increase the intake of vegetables, whole grains, and fruits, which are nutrient-dense carbohydrates.
Myth 2: Detox Diets Are A Quick Way To Lose Weight
Fact: You don’t really need external detox diets when your body has an inbuilt mechanism to eliminate the toxins.
It’s a common misconception that a detox diet can remove the toxins that enter the body through some foods. Many studies have shown that certain foods contain harmful substances such as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that can lead to diabetes and obesity.2
Many detox diets have cropped up, which claim to remove these toxins. But, insufficient clinical evidence makes these claims hard to believe.3 Moreover, detox diets may include severe calorie restriction, causing your metabolism to drop resulting in you gaining more weight as opposed to losing weight.
Your liver and kidneys are natural filters that cleanse the body and eliminate the toxins. So, by maintaining a healthy liver and kidney function, you can effectively remove harmful substances from your body. Adopting a balanced diet is a better approach to remove toxins from the body.
Drinking adequate quantities of fluids through the day improves the performance of your kidneys, which can then flush out the harmful substances. Most berries, plant-based proteins, crucifers, leafy green veggies, avocados, and lean meat can enhance your liver function to filter out toxins.
Myth 3: Adopting A Gluten-Free Diet Helps In Weight Loss
Fact: Going gluten-free can lead to various nutrient deficiencies and affect your health.
A lot of people have a misconception that a gluten-free diet can aid weight loss. A gluten-free diet is completely devoid of gluten, which is a mixture of proteins found in wheat and related grains, such as barley, rye, and oat.
Some people avoid gluten only because they are allergic to it. According to statistics, only about two percent of Americans are known to have celiac disease, wheat allergy, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.4
More importantly, unless you’re allergic to it, avoiding gluten completely can cause calcium, folate, vitamin D and B12, iron, zinc, and magnesium deficiencies. A gluten-free diet may lead to possible nutrient imbalance and result in an improper nutritional quality of the diet.5
So, instead of avoiding foods that have gluten, consider eating more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to ensure optimal fiber intake. This also prevents frequent bouts of hunger and keeps you feeling full for a longer time.
Myth 4: All Calories Are The Same
Fact: Just as your five fingers on your hand are different, calories from different foods also greatly differ.
Cutting down entirely on calories from all foods is a dangerous approach towards weight loss. Calories obtained from different foods have an impact on various body functions. For instance, the calories provided by high-fiber and protein-rich foods help in drastically improving your metabolism.
So, if you reduce the intake of these essential calories, your metabolism will take a hit and result in weight gain! Additionally, foods that have a low-glycemic index increase glucose slowly in your body and keep your stomach full for a longer time, which prevents you from eating frequently.6 Foods that are high in protein and fiber slow down the rate at which food is digested by your body.
For example, a handful of almonds or dates are more filling and energizing than a pack of junk foods like slated wafers, although both may contain similar amounts of calories. So, a balanced intake of proteins, fats, and carbs can ensure that your metabolism is optimal and at the same time, you fulfill the calorific requirements of your body.
Myth 5: Eating Clean Foods Is Healthier
Fact: Totally avoiding the foods your body wants only increases the cravings for that food.
Eating clean has become a rage and is believed to improve your health and well-being. Clean eating is basically eating healthy foods for nourishment and reducing processed or refined foods. So, some health-conscious people who want to lose weight quickly, completely ditch sugars, salts, and other processed foods, which is good to a certain extent.
But, a severe self-imposed restriction only magnifies your cravings for such foods. That’s because your body actually requires a certain amount of salts and sugars for different functions.
It takes time for the receptors in your brain to get adjusted to overcome the addictive nature of some foods that you actually crave for. And when your brain gets the better of you, indulgence is inevitable and this only results in weight gain.
So, instead of punishing yourself by staying away from your cravings, try a moderate approach and supply your body with small quantities of such foods. For instance, instead of gorging on a whole bar of chocolate, minimize the intake to a couple of pieces. This way, you can keep your cravings satisfied and still not pile on the pounds. As with most things in life, moderation is the key.
|↑1||Mozaffarian, Dariush, Tao Hao, Eric B. Rimm, Walter C. Willett, and Frank B. Hu. “Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men.” New England Journal of Medicine 364, no. 25 (2011): 2392-2404.|
|↑2||Lee, Y‐M., K‐S. Kim, D. R. Jacobs, and D‐H. Lee. “Persistent organic pollutants in adipose tissue should be considered in obesity research.” Obesity Reviews 18, no. 2 (2017): 129-139.|
|↑3||Klein, A. V., and H2 Kiat. “Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence.” Journal of human nutrition and dietetics 28, no. 6 (2015): 675-686.|
|↑4||El-Salhy, Magdy, Jan Gunnar Hatlebakk, Odd Helge Gilja, and Trygve Hausken. “The relation between celiac disease, nonceliac gluten sensitivity and irritable bowel syndrome.” Nutrition journal 14, no. 1 (2015): 92.|
|↑5||Vici, Giorgia, Luca Belli, Massimiliano Biondi, and Valeria Polzonetti. “Gluten free diet and nutrient deficiencies: A review.” Clinical Nutrition 35, no. 6 (2016): 1236-1241.|
|↑6||Glycemic index and diabetes. U.S. National Library of Medicine. 2016.|