Breathe one word to anyone about wanting to lose weight and advice comes flying at you from all directions. You probably listen and nod. After all, they are your friends and family. And they are all surely well-intentioned.
But are they well-informed?
Many of the secret tricks, magic pills, old wives’ tales and much of the conventional wisdom regarding weight loss may be more fiction than fact. Here are five of the more common myths.
Sit-ups trim belly fat
Abdominal exercises can help tone your body’s core and strengthen your ad muscles, but you can’t target weight loss with a specific exercise regimen. “Everyone loses weight differently,” says says Peter LePort, medical director of MemorialCare Center for Obesity at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. “Some lose from their face or arms first, others from their thighs. No exercise you do will cause you to lose weight from a specific area.”
You shouldn’t eat before bed
“There’s no good evidence that people should not eat before bed,” says Liz Weinandy, a registered dietitian with The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. However, it is important to be careful about what you eat before bedtime. Instead of reaching for a bowl of ice cream, try a serving of low-fat yogurt and some fruit. “It all comes down to calories,” Weinandy adds, “You have to take in less than you put out.”
If I skip breakfast or lunch, I will lose weight faster.
Eating fewer meals can actually lead to weight gain and added body fat. In fact, one study showed that people who skip breakfast have a four to five percent lower metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns calories to maintain vital functions when at rest) than those who do not. When you skip meals, your body fights back by slowing down the rate at which you burn calories. Believe it or not, you will lose weight more efficiently if you eat several small meals a day rather than one or two large meals.
Eating your sliders on lettuce instead of a bun isn’t going to magically help you shed pounds. Don’t give up bread – just think about the kind of bread you’re choosing to eat. Bread is relatively high in calories and typically, white bread offers little in terms of nutritional value. Choose to eat high-fiber whole grain breads and enjoy a bun with your burger from time to time.
Fat is the enemy
Not necessarily! Animal fats and saturated fats have long been linked to health problems, monounsaturated fats like olive oil, have been shown to reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.