Useless or Harmful Weight Loss Advice

Useless or Harmful Weight Loss Advice

Unfortunately, the internet is awash with unhelpful weight loss tips that can actually do more harm than good. We aim to identify these myths so you can successfully achieve healthy weight loss.

”Never skip breakfast, it’s the most important meal of the day”

We’re bombarded with the message that we should always eat breakfast, so that we have fuel for the day ahead and so our metabolism gets a boost after sleeping.

How often have you actually been hungry when you wake up though? Many people don’t feel hungry for many hours after waking, and therefore there is no real reason to eat; they are forcing themselves to eat in the morning.

If you do not feel hungry when you wake up then try to wait until lunch for your first meal of the day. Of course, you are still at perfect liberty to eat breakfast every day, but just be aware it’s not as important as the industry would have you believe through their adverts and packaging. Attempt to eat a high-protein breakfast if you do, which will help you feel fuller and less likely to overeat at lunchtime. [240]

Whether you eat breakfast or skip it appears to have very little effect on your weight, according to research. [241]

Skipping breakfast may actually lead to slightly greater weight loss. One study found that people who skipped breakfast ate 140 more calories during lunch, compared to those who ate breakfast, but by the end of the day they had consumed 400 fewer calories. [242]

Some people take part in intermittent fasting, which frequently sees them skip breakfast and eat only between 12pm and 8pm. Research has associated intermittent fasting with weight loss and improved health. [243]

”Just do lots of cardiovascular exercise”

Exercise is very important for good health. It helps make you stronger and more physically able, while burning calories at the same time.

However, many people believe that you should just do cardio (aerobic exercise) to lose weight, when research has shown that it needs to be combined with strength training for the best results. [253] [254]

While there is nothing inherently wrong with cardio – it’s good for your heart and helps reduce stress [251] – not everyone responds the same way to it in terms of weight loss. [252]

”Eating fat makes you fat”

For decades, fat was blasted as the enemy of dieters, with low-fat products swamping the shelves, marketed as a way for you to reduce your calorie intake and lose weight.

However, more and more new research supports the inclusion of healthy fats in your diet, such as avocados and nuts, as an effective way to lose weight. [255] [257]

Fat may contain more calories than carbs or protein, but it is highly satiating and takes a while to be digested. People who follow a low-fat diet have often been left feeling hungry, and can struggle to successfully lose weight and maintain their weight loss. One study of 48,835 post-menopausal women found that after eight years, those on a low-fat diet only lost 0.5kg. [256]

Often, low-fat products are high in refined sugar, which can lead to an increased production of insulin, the main fat storage hormone. This can make it harder for your body to burn fat as energy.

”Don’t lose weight quickly”

You may have heard people say that you need to lose weight slowly in order to successfully maintain a lower weight, rather than undergoing rapid weight loss.

Research has shown, however, that your risk of weight regain does not increase if you have lost it quickly. [258] It may actually be more beneficial in the long-term if you lose weight quickly. [259]

Unsurprisingly, if you cut your calorie intake to very low levels then you are likely to lose weight quickly. However, this often ends up being unsustainable in the long run, so you should look to adopt a more manageable lifestyle instead to prevent weight regain.

”All you need to do is count calories”

Burning more calories than you consume is the backbone of weight loss, but it isn’t everything. The foods you eat play a big role, so it is essential that you pay attention to what you eat.

For example, eating 400 calories in the form of croissants will be much more harmful for you than if you consumed 400 calories through a grilled chicken breast.

Croissants are made of refined carbs, which increase your blood glucose levels and hunger, which may result in overeating. [260] On the other hand, chicken is low-carb and high in protein, so its effects on blood glucose are not as pronounced, in addition to it making you feel more full. [152]

Helpfully, people on low-carb diets tend to naturally consume fewer calories than those on a low-fat diet. This can save time as you don’t need to count calories, and of course provides the benefit of greater weight loss. [261]

”Juice cleanses will make you lose weight fast”

The idea behind a juice cleanse is that it rids your body of toxins and can help you lose 10lbs in one week. Unfortunately, while popular, there is very little evidence to show that juice cleanses are either safe or effective.[262]

One study saw women drinking only a mixture of syrup and lemon juice, a concoction that contained fewer than 500 calories, for seven days.

Although the women in the study did lose an amount of weight, while also reducing inflammatory markers and insulin resistance, they also lost around 0.6lbs of muscle mass. [263]

As with any diet that requires such a massive reduction in calorie intake, you will lose weight. However, these results are usually short-lived as they do not teach healthy eating habits, and may come at a cost such as the loss of muscle mass.

Juices also tend to be low in protein, and contain high amounts of sugar, which can be a catastrophic combination as far as health and appetite are concerned. [264] [265]

There’s also no concrete evidence that detoxifying is effective or necessary as your liver detoxifies you on a daily basis. [266]

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