Top Four Weight-Loss Myths  |  a.k.a. What not to do

By, Lyn Schwartz, MS, RD []

Myth #1:  Skip Meals or Fast

When you deny your body the calories it needs, it switches to “starvation mode.”  Picture yourself on a deserted island with scarce amounts of food.  Your body protects itself by slowing down your metabolism so you use less energy.  Of course, you are not stranded on an island but there is no way to turn your body’s survival mechanism off.  When you do eat again, your body gears up for the next “fast” by storing more of the calories you eat as fat.

Better Approach: Eat 4-6 small meals and balanced snacks per day. By eating every 3-4 hours, you can keep your metabolism fired up and your appetite under control. If you avoid overeating at mealtime, you can limit the amount of calories that are stored as body fat.

Myth #2:  Cut Out Your Favorite High Fat Foods

Picture yourself in a room.  Someone comes in and repeatedly tells you not to push a big red button on the wall.  This goes on all day long.  After a while, what is the main thought going through your head?  That red button.  You may feel the same way about any foods you have forbidden in your diet.  When you are overly restrictive, you may find yourself obsessing about forbidden foods.  If you are having a bad day, you may find yourself binging on those very foods.  Or, you may try to resist the tempting, high fat foods and instead find yourself overeating lower fat, and less desirable, versions of the foods you crave.

Better Approach: Pick a few of your favorite foods and include a calorie-controlled amount in your eating plan.  When you regularly include small amounts of your favorite foods in your diet, you subconsciously let go of the thought that you are on a calorie-controlled eating plan.

Myth #3:  Eat a Light Lunch

Many dieters reach for a salad or other low-calorie meals at lunchtime, forgoing higher calorie choices such as a sandwich or a slice of pizza.  That is a big mistake.  The amount of calories you burn up between lunch and dinner is far greater than the calories you burn up after dinner.  And yet, many Americans skimp on lunch, don’t make time for an afternoon snack, and then arrive home famished.  Combine a ravenous appetite with the comfort of your own home, with a desire to celebrate the end of a long day, and you have a recipe for eating way too much food.

Better Approach: Make time for a satisfying lunch, which has the same amount (or more) calories than dinner.  You will have more energy to get through the day and feel less starved when you get home for dinner, allowing you to make better food choices.

Myth #4:  Don’t combine food groups in the same meal

Years ago, a book came out preaching the importance of having your protein foods and carbohydrate foods separately, and has remained a bestseller ever since.  What many people do not realize is that the book’s premise is not based on sound nutrition principles.  Many people have followed the diet and lost weight.  However, the weight loss was simply a result of a decreased calorie intake, not an improved metabolism.

Better Approach: It is actually helpful to combine a variety of foods in one meal.  Carbohydrates are a great energy source.  Adding protein, fiber, and even a little fat allow the energy from carbohydrates to be absorbed and metabolized more slowly.  That way, your energy level stays elevated longer and your cravings stay in control.

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