Nearly half of American adults report trying to lose weight, but most are failing.
As more and more Americans try to lose weight, our collective BMI (body mass index) is increasing, suggesting that Americans are gaining weight, not shedding it. Many try to lose weight, hitting the gym and cutting calories, only to find that reaching their weight loss goals is harder than it looks.
If you can relate, you’re not alone. But losing weight isn’t hopeless. It just requires knowing what really works and being able to separate fact from fiction.
One reason many Americans may struggle to lose weight is because of the pervasive weight loss myths spread through advertisements, social media, and between friends. Read on for some of the most common myths and what not to do when trying to shed pounds.
Debunking Common Weight Loss Myths
Most weight loss myths involve either food or exercise, since changing diet or physical activity are often the most commonly recommended ways to lose weight.
When deciding a weight loss plan that works for you, avoid these myths and bad advice.
You Need to Follow a Strict Diet
When people talk about weight loss today, they almost always tout a specific diet that they’ve tried.
From keto to the Atkins diet, each diet has its own rules and habits. Some limit when you can eat, such as in intermittent fasting, but most focus on cutting out certain food groups.
It’s common to hear advice telling you to stop eating carbohydrates, fats, sugars, and other foods in order to lose weight. But in many cases, a strict diet that eliminates entire food groups is unsustainable and will be difficult to continue long-term. Then, even if you initially lose some weight, you may quickly plateau as you abandon the diet altogether.
And extreme diets are more likely to lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, among other health problems.
Smaller diet changes, rather than drastic ones, are the real secret to hitting your weight loss goals.
Eating for Weight Loss Is Expensive
Even if you’re not trying to follow a strict diet, you may believe that eating for weight loss is inaccessible, especially financially.
In many places, eating a diet rich in produce and fresh foods can be more costly than grabbing a quick meal from a fast food drive-thru. You may think, then, that you simply can’t afford a healthy diet and sticking to cheap, oily foods is the only option.
But there are a couple reasons why this simply isn’t true.
First, there are plenty of healthy options available at supermarkets that are inexpensive, including in-season vegetables, canned beans, or tofu. And swapping white bread for whole grain bread, for example, often costs you little to no extra money.
And if you consider the long-term impact of filling your plate with fast food, processed snacks, and other junk foods, you risk spending more later in health care and medical costs.
Take a look around your supermarket, and you’ll find a variety of diet-friendly foods that won’t break the bank.
Extreme Exercise Is Required
The fitness industry may have led you to believe that you must buy the latest expensive workout equipment or shell out money for a gym pass in order to get fit.
And while these tools can help some stick to their weight loss and fitness goals, extreme exercise isn’t always necessary.
Physical activity can come in many forms. Even walking for 30 minutes a day could be enough to burn some extra calories.
Similarly, everyday activities like commuting by bike, playing with your children, or doing household chores can contribute to your physical activity. The key is to move when you can and listen to your body. If you can handle intense workouts, that’s great! If not, there are still other ways to stay active and burn calories.
You Have to Starve to Lose Weight
Like strict diets, any weight loss plan that involves skipping meals and drastically cutting calories is unlikely to work.
When you’re not getting enough food and nutrients on a regular basis, your body will alert you in the form of cravings and a crash in energy. Then, you’re more likely to overeat, grabbing sugary foods to quickly satisfy your stomach.
At best, this results in no change in weight. But at worst, not eating enough can trigger an eating disorder that can be difficult to recover from.
Losing weight should never involve prolonged hunger or crash diets. There are healthier ways to lose weight that allow you to eat throughout the day, without packing on extra calories or sugar.
What Worked for Them Will Work for Everyone
The media can be deceiving. You may see a commercial with a celebrity who lost weight, or you may find a social media influencer promoting a diet product. Then, you may be led to believe that what worked for them will work for you too.
Everyone’s health and fitness needs are different, and weight loss is never one-size-fits-all.
And despite the common misconception that obesity is caused by laziness, being overweight is highly correlated with certain conditions and genetic predispositions.
Not only that, but many stories of weight loss, especially those shared by famous people, don’t tell the whole story. Celebrities typically hire the help of a professional dietician, personal trainer, and even plastic surgeons to help them shed pounds and cut fat. Comparing your situation to their’s puts unrealistic pressure on yourself, particularly if you don’t have access to the resources they do.
There’s a Miracle Pill, Food, or Drink
Some may hope for one miracle pill or potion that will help them lose weight fast, without having to change anything else in their lifestyle.
But the truth is that any diet supplements or foods that work will require a little help.
At https://www.wilsonsupplements.com/, you can find several effective supplements that help with fat burning and weight management. These can give you a boost and support your weight loss journey. But they’re designed to be used alongside exercise and a healthy diet.
Remember, there are several factors that relate to weight loss or gain. One pill, food, or drink isn’t enough for substantial change.
You Can Lose Weight on a Schedule
Many who try to lose weight have a specific deadline, like a wedding or vacation, that they hope to shed pounds by. But if you’ve ever decided that you were going to lose a certain amount of weight by a certain date, you may have been setting yourself up for failure.
For sustainable weight loss, you shouldn’t expect a quick and linear process. Losing weight takes time and happens little by little.
And you may find that you lose more pounds during some weeks or months compared to others. In fact, you may even gain a pound or two in the middle of your weight loss journey, especially if you’re holding extra water weight, gaining muscle, or in the middle of menstruation.
Thin Is Always Healthier
There’s a dangerously pervasive myth that a thin body is always healthier than a larger one. But thinness doesn’t always correlate to less disease or illness.
Especially if being thin requires overexercise or under-eating, it can increase the risk of malnourishment, lowered immunity, heart disease, and organ failure.
There Are “Good” Foods and “Bad” Foods
Many weight loss regimens group foods into “good” foods that are safe to eat and those that are “bad” and off-limits. This is almost to be expected when starting a weight loss diet, but it’s rooted in a myth.
Foods are not inherently good or bad. Instead, an imbalance of eating certain foods too much and not eating others enough is the culprit in food-related weight gain.
That means that cookies, hamburgers, and soda don’t have to be excluded from your life. But you should rethink eating cookies for breakfast, a hamburger for every lunch, and multiple sodas a day.
Allowing yourself to indulge in your favorite treats occasionally may actually help you avoid more uncontrollable cravings later on, keeping you on track with your weight loss goals.
Separating Fact From Fiction: What Really Works?
For optimal health, it’s best to avoid extreme diets or exercise regimens when trying to lose weight.
Slow, gradual change is often better and more sustainable than fast results. And expecting yourself to commit perfectly to a weight loss plan, without ever making mistakes, is more likely to lead to burnout and eventually giving up altogether.
With the help of your doctor’s advice, focus on just one or two small habit changes first, like swapping desserts for fruit and going on a daily walk.
Then, stick to them. Consistency is key, even if the results aren’t drastic or quick.
Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind
Losing weight is difficult for many Americans, but it isn’t impossible. Remove common weight loss myths from your exercise and diet plan, and stick to slower and more realistic changes to stay on track and meet your goals.
Learn more about healthy eating habits and more tips in our latest health articles!
Alison Lurie is a farmer of words in the field of creativity. She is an experienced independent content writer with a demonstrated history of working in the writing and editing industry. She is a multi-niche content chef who loves cooking new things.