There is an abundance of information available in magazines, books, and on the Internet for anyone who is looking to shed a few pounds. This wealth of information can be a great thing – it’s easy to obtain a wide variety of opinions and theories regarding the best ways to lose weight, and what options are out there for weight-loss strategies and support. However, one of the risks inherent in this plethora of facts is that there is also a proliferation of weight loss myths, many of which will not only fail to help you lose weight, but may actually cause you to gain weight instead. One of the first and most important steps in beginning any weight-loss regimen is to separate fact from fiction, and avoid bad habits (even if they seem like good ones).
Many people think that skipping meals is a good way to lose weight; they may eat a big breakfast and a regular lunch, and skip dinner, or vice versa. However, skipping meals doesn’t help you lose weight; it actually leads to weight gain. When you skip meals, your body compensates by lowering your metabolism, and you burn fewer calories while at rest than you normally would. Weight loss is better achieved by most people who eat several small meals each day, instead of one or two large ones. The latter also tends to make people over-eat because they are over compensating for their hunger and during these manic hunger pains, a person will generally eat whatever is most convenient which may not be the healthiest choice.
People also tend to believe that as long as they stick with low-fat foods, they can eat as much as they want in a sitting; however, the best way to cut calories and lose weight is to simply eat healthier foods. Low-fat alternatives to regular processed foods tend to have such a high content of sugar with calories that are worse for you than their original counterparts. That’s not to say that substitution isn’t the way to go – if you can substitute an alternative that is naturally lower in calories, sugar or fat to your favorite processed food, you will be lowering your intake of unnecessary fattening substances. Just don’t think you can eat something all day long because the label says “low-fat” or “low-calorie.” The fact is, eating unprocessed whole foods will lead you to be more successful at losing weight and will improve your health overall. Try to remember that if the food comes in a can, jar, or bag, it may not be contributing to your weight loss goals.
It’s also common for people to think that they can lose weight quickly with certain activities or tricks. They try to reduce fat in certain spots by doing exercises which claim to target their problem areas. However, when your body loses fat, it does so evenly, and the fat comes from all over your body; you can target and tone specific muscle groups, but reducing fat is a total-body effort. The best way to lose weight is to do a combination of strength and aerobic exercises, not by doing workouts that target certain muscle groups. The more muscles you move in a given exercise, the more calories you burn which of course will lead to weight loss. Similarly, hopping into a sauna or steam room won’t help you shed anything except water weight; losing weight requires exertion, and there is simply no way to cheat the system.
When you start a new diet or weight-loss regimen, make sure you perform thorough research to ensure that you have all of the information available to you. In general, avoid fad diets, or any methods that promise large-scale, immediate results; it takes time to gain weight, and it also takes time to lose it. Losing weight rapidly is not only a short-term plan, but can be unhealthy as well. Stick to the tried-and-true methods of eating right, exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and you will find it much easier to reach your weight-loss goals.