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Three common weight loss myths

Published : Friday February 17, 2012 | Posted in : General Health
Diet plan

There are many reasons why attempts at weight loss fail, but certainly a major contributory factor is the wealth of misinformation that is spread about losing weight and dieting. We look at just three of the most common weight loss myths.

It's a good idea to skip breakfast

This is a persistent weight loss myth because, on the face of it, it seems to make perfect sense. One of the central aims of attempting to lose weight is to reduce your calorie intake, and removing an entire meal's worth of calories may seem like a winning strategy. Unfortunately, this just isn't the case, and numerous research has demonstrated why skipping meals, particularly breakfast, can have a negative impact on your long-term weight loss attempt. For instance, a study has shown that people who don't eat breakfast, regardless of whether they are attempting to lose weight or not, tend to overeat later on in the day and are particularly likely to snack. Skipping breakfast can actually have the effect of lowering metabolism, meaning that calories are burned more slowly. If you skip breakfast, you will likely find that your energy levels are lower than they would otherwise have been, making exercise less likely.

All of this is not to say that you should eat just about anything for breakfast. Not for nothing is breakfast called the most important meal of the day, but a bad breakfast does as much good as no breakfast at all. Eating a healthy breakfast that contains whole grains and fruit is recommended, often with a source of protein. You should avoid breakfast foods with unnecessarily high amounts of sugar, such as heavily-sugared cereals and sweet pastries. Though these examples can be acceptable as occasional treats, eating them regularly in the morning can have a detrimental effect. Look for high fibre cereals like Shredded Wheat instead, and consider substituting your sweet pastry for a fruit salad.

Substituting food products with "diet" alternatives will help me lose weight

Again, this myth persists because it seems to make perfect sense. If you're trying to lose weight, it can be tempting to simply replace your normal foods with "low fat" or "no sugar" alternative. However, studies have shown that "low fat" labels may actually have a negative effect on weight loss progress. One study demonstrated that people, especially those who are already overweight, eat more food when it is has a "low fat" label than when it does not, often to the point where they are consuming the same amount, if not even more, of calories or fat as they would have done anyway. "Low fat" labels can also affect portioning, as they lead people to feel less guilt about the amount of a particular food they consume.

It is also worth noting that "low fat" and "no sugar" labels can be misleading, because a product can still be unhealthy even if it happens to have less sugar in it. Though you may find it beneficial to your personal diet plan to consume only low fat products, it is advisable to carefully check the entire nutrition label. This is also the case for "diet" drinks, as studies have also demonstrated that they can also have a negative impact on health and weight.

I will be more successful if I follow the same diet plan as a celebrity

Losing weight is tough, and it is often necessary to create a plan of action to ensure long-term results. What are you going to eat each day? How much exercise can you fit in per day, and when? These are important things to consider, but it can become overwhelming. This is often why people choose to emulate a favourite celebrity and follow a strict diet plan. These plans tend to be so-called "fad diets", which tend to favour eliminating entire food groups or significantly reducing the variety of food they consume. Have you heard of the grapefruit diet? The baby food diet? The cabbage soup diet? Chances are you have, and that's because the media can't get enough of them.

The question is - are these diets successful? The answer is no. Yes, they may cause you to lose weight very fast, but this will not be sustainable and rapid weight loss can actually be very unhealthy. Experts tend to advise that people should aim to lose one to two pounds per week. In actual fact, losing more than this per week can alter your metabolism to the extent that you will actually start to burn fewer calories. The answer to healthy and long-term weight loss is a plan that is personally tailored to you, preferably discussed with a doctor or specialist, that will allow you to achieve your goals without jeopardising your long-term health.

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