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Posted on Jun 29, 2011 in Weight Loss, Weight Loss 101 | 39 comments

Weight Loss 101: Mythbusters

Coming back from the Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference in Boulder, CO I have a lot of inspiration for posts and practices to implement! One interesting session was titled “Carbs are the Devil! And Other Nutrition Myths Demystified“, and I thought it was especially pertinent to this blog. Plus, I’ve been thinking about doing a Weight Loss 101 post on weight loss myths for a while now. Fate! Utilizing information from that session (which was created and led by RDs), as well as some of the information I’ve discovered through pure trial-and-error of my own, it’s time to bust some heads myths wiiiide open!

Mythbusters!
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Disclaimer: While some of the information provided in this post has been provided by registered dietitians, I am not a nutrition or medical professional. I encourage you to utilize your own research and experience in conjunction with my own to draw your conclusions on the validity of my statements.

Myth: Skipping meals will help you lose weight.

Duck!

BUSTED! Skipping meals and snacks will cause your metabolism to slow down and make your calorie-burning ability less effective,. In fact, eating smaller, nutritious meals every 3 – 4 hours (lean protein + high-fiber carb) will be more conducive to keeping your metabolism high and will increase your ability to lose weight while keeping you full and satisfied.

Fact: When I started eating more frequent, smaller meals I FELT like I was eating more than when I was trying to skip meals in attempts to skip calories. Feeling fuller while eating less and thus losing weight? Yes please!

Myth: Don’t eat past 8 PM.

Busted! Caloric deficit, regardless of the actual times you’re consuming those calories, will result in weight loss! So if you’ve hit 8 PM and you’ve only consumed 1200 calories that day, go ahead and have a snack if you’re hungry! The only problem occurs if you are prone to late-night snacking when you’re not hungry. Obviously anytime you are eating when you’re not hungry will probably hinder your weight loss.

Fact: Caloric deficit is as caloric deficit does. It doesn’t really matter what time of day you stop eating as long as you’re still creating a window for weight loss. However, I know that I do have to watch my late-night snacking because I am far more likely to want to down half a pint of coconut milk ice cream than some hummus and crackers. And if I do end up going a little crazy at night, I just don’t have the opportunity to balance out the calories with other meals or work them off, ‘s all.

Myth: Going gluten-free will help you lose weight.


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BUSTED! Going gluten-free is only truly necessary if you have Celiacs disease or another gluten-intolerance, and won’t help you lose weight on its own. Unless, that is, there’s a caloric deficit being created anyway. But solely by the act of cutting gluten out of your diet alone you will not lose weight, and in fact, gluten-free products tend to be higher in calories compared to their gluten-inclusive counterparts.

Fact: The sheer act of cutting a group of foods out of your diet is never a guarantee that you’ll lose weight (with a variation of the exception for carbs, but we’ll address that next.) Even going vegan is not a guarantee that you’ll drop a single pound, and I know that from first-hand experience!

Myth: Bread makes you fat.


Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: Bread makes you fat?!?

BUSTED! Carbs rock. They’re delicious. And as a former Atkins devotee, I can also tell you that while yes, you can and probably will lose weight if you cut all carbs out of your diet, it will not last. The second you start eating bread, pasta, potatoes, or sugar again, you’ll start gaining the weight back. In fact, if you’re a carboholic like me, you’ll probably end up gaining more weight than you lost, because you felt so deprived of all that glorious carb-y goodness!

Fact: Carbs are a source of energy for our bodies, and they make us feel happy and satisfied (actually increasing the levels of serotonin in our brains! Which is why you can see it’s easy to go overboard on them.) Just try to ensure that the majority of the carbs in your diet come from whole-grain, high-fiber sources.

What are some other diet myths we can bust wide open? Or maybe you’re unsure if it’s really a myth or not? Let’s find out together!

39 Comments

  1. SUCH a good post! I, like you, did the no/low carb thing and actually lost a ton of weight super fast (60 pounds in 2 months). But then I started losing my hair, getting extreme muscle cramps and tossing my cookies after every meal. As soon as I went back to eating normally, all of that stopped and the pounds piled back on. Cutting out any group of nutrients is BAD NEWS.

    I’d also like to add that FAT DOESN’T MAKE YOU FAT! Fat is good. Eat it. Enjoy it. Love it.

    • YES! I was going to put the whole “fat is amazeballs” thing up there, but I figure I say it so much on the blog anyway it’s kind of redundant at this point, hahaha.

    • Best movie slash comic book(s) evarrrrrr!

  2. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this article. These are the reason’s I’m going into nutrition, to show people what is right and what isn’t. It’s so easy to fall prey to myths and fads, and it’s really causing more harm than good when it comes to weight loss! This is honestly one of my favorite posts ever.

    • Yayyyy! Hopefully your approval means it’s all nutritionally-sound advice, too, hahaha.

    • If you liked the vid, you need to watch that movie! It’s hilaaarious.

  3. Great post- I am sure there must be more nutrition/diet myths out there waiting to be busted open so hopefully we can identify a few more for another post sometime!!

    • We just need to wait for the next fad diet to pop up and I’m there will be plenty of myths to bust with it. Fad diets never work!

  4. Great post!! It’s not often that people can relay information in a way that speaks to the “crowd” better than the presentation did (it was a great presentation, don’t get me wrong…) :) The Gluten-Free trend is what gets me the most (thank goodness Atkins is “out” these days), I’m all for avoiding the big G if you have an intolerance or allergy (especially the latter, obvi), but it’s been blown way out of that realm.

    • Hehe, thanks! Yeah, I know that going gluten-free is the super big trend right now, and obviously it’s great that there are so many gluten-free options and it’s much more widely acknowledge now for those who do have allergies, celiacs, etc. But the majority of people who are giving up the “big G” (haha) don’t suffer from those issues, they just want to jump on the train! Which is fine, just as long as they don’t think doing so will solve all their weight problems, right?

  5. Don’t eat fat and carbs together. Yes, that was a “rule” on an old diet plan. I mock this rule as I sit here eating my oats and pb. Muahahaha!!!! <— evil laugh

    Also, eating 1200 cals/day. My body will hold onto weight and water if I don't feed it enough.

    Or that you have to eat 1g protein per lb of body weight. So not necessary.

    Clearly I've succumbed to a lot of myths in the past. Shall I go on? ;) LOL

    • Haha! Oh man, my life would be so sad without fats+carbs combos, but I definitely heard of that rule at one point or another! I’ve never heard that 1g of protein per pound thing! That’s ridiculous! We all eat too much protein anyway I hear…? Ugh, diet “rules”… love that you have the experience to share though! :D

  6. I love this post! I used to think eatnig after dark would pack on the pounds fast. And I used to think carbs would make me fat (I still have PTSD from this – I LOVE BREAD!!) I also used to think that skipping meals was a good idea. Oh, the silly mind of a teenager. SO glad that’s over with! :)

    • I know, I was a steadfast devotee to not eating breakfast because I thought that the fewer meals I ate, the more weight I would lose. FALSE. And I seriously think the most common diet advice I got was from people telling me not to eat after 7 PM. But… what if I’m hungry at 7:30?!

  7. Go Gretchen! this was an awesome post! I had no idea that Gluten free has become a fad! Why would anyone want to torture themselves that way on purpose? Alden just recently figured out he has Celiac’s disease and has cut out all gluten. Although we stay away from the gluten ‘substitutes’ as they are full of not good things:) I had been thinking that his new eating habits are why he’s lost so much weight since then ( 21lbs since mid-May!) but maybe it’s just that he’s paying more attention to his diet and making healthier choices? Very insightful post, thank you! Oh, and I totally thought eating after 8pm was bad for me too, and I wondered how Europeans eat at 10 every night and still look the way they do, haha:) I love your blog:)

    • I know, right? Gluten is in soooo much stuff, cutting it out voluntarily is so limiting! I’m really sorry to hear about Alden’s diagnosis, but that’s awesome to hear that it’s ingraining such healthy habits in him. 21 lbs since May?! That’s amazing!!! (Jealous. Boys are always able to lose weight so fast!)

      There’s this whole book that’s entitled “French Women Don’t Get Fat” and it’s dedicated to the European lifestyle and how even though they eat pastries and crepes and butter sauces and all that stuff they stay at reasonable weights because they don’t have the fixation about food that Americans do (allegedly.) I haven’t read it yet but I really want to.

  8. Another myth: It if says “low-fat, zero fat, heart-healthy, etc” then it must be good for you and/or better than the “full-fat” version. I know you decided not to put this up there but I’m so sick of things like “diet” yogurt. I won’t name brands but the top brand literally tastes like chemicals covered in fake sugar. I’ll take regular or greek yogurt over that stuff anyday!

    Don’t even get me started on HCFS is the same as sugar myth!

    • Ewwww, HCFS! On the original presentation that was at the conference they addressed the myth that some sugars are worse than others, but really the consensus is that pretty much all sugars are just gonna make you fat in excess, hahaha.

      • Chemically they may be the same but having been spoiled as a kid with fresh sugarcane, I prefer “sugar”. It’s just more real to me I guess. I used to use a lot of splenda but now have switched back to real sugar. I get the organic raw kind and use it for my daily giant cup of joe. Topped with real half n half, no international delights lol.

        It’s just something important to me as I focus on “real” food but sadly, I almost feel that nothing is really real anymore unless I grow it or raise it myself.

        I can’t grow sugarcane or raise a cow so I have to just live it trying to be as close to natural as possible.

        I also don’t like that HCFS fuels the giant corn industry which is another big issue for me. Ever watch King Corn?

        On a sidenote, maybe I’m showing my age and level of immaturity but corn always makes me remember the Great Cornholio!

        • I haven’t watched King Corn, but I did watch Food, Inc. which similarly made me very wary of the corn industry (as well as soy beans!) And I don’t think you’ll come across anyone on this blog that if you’re going to add sugar, it should be REAL sugar! :)

    • Always livin’ on the edge, aren’t you? :D

  9. LOVE your new default pic. So cute!

    And I SO agree with everything in the post. When I started losing weight and was eating very cleanly, I had lots of people ask me if I was constantly hungry.

    I always laughed and said, “No way! Do you see how much and how often I eat?!”

    Love it.

    • People seem to always equate “losing weight” with “dieting” and “dieting” with “starving”, and for the longest time I thought that was the only way I was going to be able to lose weight, too. But it was only when I started EATING (eating RIGHT, that is) that I started losing weight — and I was eating ALL the time! So it really is the perfect win-win. Eat more, lose weight.

      • Absolutely!

        Plus, eating that way really helps prevent that “Omgz, I am so full I could kill myself right now” post-Thanksgiving dinner / riddled with guilt and remorse feeling!

        That is the worst! I haven’t felt like that in MONTHS!

  10. I love this post! So many of my coworkers comment on how much I eat and I try to explain that I only eat when I’m hungry. If it looks like I’m eating frequently during the day I’m just having small portions of food that I’m hungry for but no one seems to get my logic. There’s a group doing an office wide Biggest Loser competition and it’s almost all based around eating fat free/low carbs.I have to remind myself that while it’s frustrating to watch, I am not a doctor and can’t tell them to change what they’re doing. They’ll learn on their own.

    PS. I love love love Scott Pilgrim. So. Hard.

    • I knew there was a reason we would get along! ;) But seriously, I know it is suuuuper frustrating when people start talking to you about weight loss that you know isn’t necessarily happening the healthiest way. Not all diets are created equal, unfortunately! But then again, I went through my fair share of trial-and-error methods before settling on the way I’ve lost weight for the past 10 months or so (i.e. sustainably!), and I’m sure that if anyone had told me back then that I was doing it the wrong way I wouldn’t have listened anyway!

  11. This post is awesome Gretchen. I hate when people ask if I went vegetarian and Gluten Free to lose weight. Nope…it’s actually harder for me to lose weight now because I have to find other grains to eat besides Gluten free pasta.

    Keep it up!

    • That must be so difficult to navigate with people, when they think that gluten-free is just a big diet trend and not a necessity for some people!

  12. I love this post and the clip of Michael Cera hahaha

  13. Hi Gretchen, great info! Nice to see straight forward honest advice. Snacking at night really was/is one of my ‘downfalls’. I couldn’t care less for eating breakfast, I am never hungry in the morning and my coffee is more than enough. I really only get hungry in the afternoon, and damn, by evening, I want EVERYTHING in my fridge. Even sleep time indigestion wouldn’t stop me, lol.

    It has taken a lot of lifestyle changes to habituate myself into not eating after a certain time, so for me, not eating after 8pm is a habit I have managed to get into. But then, I make sure I eat sensibly through the day.

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