Every Lie You’ve Ever Been Told About the Best Diet for Weight Loss

Losing weight doesn’t seem like it should be complicated — but it is. It’s not just your willpower, or lack thereof. It’s your hormones. Your mental and physical health. Unpredictable schedules, unsupportive relatives, and even daily stressors can make weight loss nearly impossible. But the myths surrounding diets and healthy eating make it even harder.

You still probably don’t know the whole truth behind these false diet claims — including the reason you should be eating more fat (page 8) and why you shouldn’t trust the sneaky creators of weight loss supplements (page 9).

Snacking is OK as long as it’s ‘diet’ food

Diet Pepsi

Diet foods and drinks are rarely good for you. | John Parra/Getty Images for Diet Pepsi

  • Truth: A low-fat, low-carb, low-sodium, dairy-free, gluten-free cookie is still a cookie.

There is nothing wrong with eating between meals — unless you’re convinced your snacks are healthy when they actually aren’t.

When companies remove most of the fat from a snack food, for example, they almost always add something else to replace it — usually sugar. That’s no better than a full-fat bag of chips, and you know it.

Generally, if it comes in a box or bag and can survive in your pantry for an extended period of time, it’s probably not great for you. Steer clear of these tricky diet foods if you really want to lose weight.

Next: Some say you can’t eat healthy if you can’t afford it, and they’re wrong.

The more expensive your food, the healthier it is

Whole Foods

You don’t have to break the bank at Whole Foods to eat healthy. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

  • Truth: You don’t have to go broke to eat healthy.

Despite evidence suggesting otherwise, most consumers believe healthy foods are automatically more expensive. Foods that claim to be healthier are often priced higher than foods that don’t, too, which further reinforces this false belief.

Can you eat healthy foods without spending your entire paycheck at the grocery store? Yes. Healthline’s list of cheap, healthy foods is a great place to start.

Next: Just because a food has “sugar” doesn’t mean it’s off-limits.

You shouldn’t eat fruit — it will make you gain weight

Exotic fruit

Fruit is very good for you. | firina/iStock/Getty Images

  • Truth: People who eat fruit are healthier than people who don’t.

Strawberries contain a compound called fructose, or “fruit sugar.” Nature put that sugar there, giving these berries and other fruits a surprising sweetness straight off the plant. It is not unhealthy. In fact, fruit contains fiber, one of your greatest allies along your journey toward weight loss.

You’d have to eat a lot of fruit for this type of sugar to become toxic. It’s much more prevalent in processed foods, which is where the misconception came from. Added sugars cause health issues; fruit does not.

Next: This diet “lie” could actually hurt you.

You should eat more protein to lose weight

Protein source products including meat, milk and eggs

High-protein diets are good for you, but they won’t make you lose weight on their own. | Source: iStock

  • Truth: Protein can help you lose weight, but only in the short-term.

The plethora of protein powders and shakes on store shelves helps support the belief that you need to eat more protein to lose more weight. Focusing on reducing your calorie intake is a much better option.

Eating too much protein can produce harmful side effects. It’s good for you, but you don’t have to overdo it to get results. More is not always better.

Most experts recommend that 20% of your daily calories should come from protein, but there are other ways to figure out how much you should eat. Stick to lean animal sources, and incorporate plant sources like whole grains whenever possible.

Next: Why do you hate these innocent foods so much?

Carbs are bad — kill them with fire

Carbs on a wooden surface

There are a lot of good carbs out there. | Bit245/iStock/Getty Images

  • Truth: Don’t hate on the nutrient that could tip the scales in your favor.

Carbs are sugar, so that means they’re evil — right? This misunderstanding stems from the idea that all carbs are the same, which also isn’t true.

Should you eat fewer foods high in sugar and all but lacking in health benefits, such as chocolate cake and Doritos? Yes. Should you also replace those unhealthy carbs with healthier ones — fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and certain dairy products? Absolutely.

Next: If you want to skip this meal, go ahead.

If you don’t eat breakfast, you’re doing it wrong

top view of healthy breakfast ingredients

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day? | iStock.com/Magone

  • Truth: Eating first thing in the morning doesn’t make much of a difference.

Most people believe that if you skip breakfast, you have an increased chance of overeating later in the day to make up for the lost calories. This may be the case for some people, but others just aren’t breakfast eaters — or make unhealthy choices early in the morning.

Studies actually suggest that whether or not you eat breakfast doesn’t really make a difference. Technically, if you had a choice between eating a bowl of Lucky Charms or nothing at all, you’d be much better off skipping the sugar rush.

Next: Many people follow a healthy eating lifestyle, but still can’t lose weight. This could explain it.

It doesn’t matter how much you eat, as long as it’s healthy

Scale

If you’re overeating, you’re going to gain weight. | Vadimguzhva/iStock/Getty Images

  • ┬áTruth: Healthy or unhealthy, overeating will make you gain weight.

Calories aren’t the only measure of how healthy you’re eating — but they’re still important, even when the quality of your food hits the mark. Losing weight is not just about eating better: You also have to eat smarter.

In reality, eating large amounts of healthy food “because it’s healthy” and eating unhealthy foods aren’t all that different. Calories do matter when you look at the big picture. Eating an entire box of pasta because it’s made with whole grains still counts as an unhealthy eating practice.

Next: Keto diet fans will love this news.

Eating fat will make you gain weight

Peanut butter jar and heap of nuts

Peanut butter is an example of a good fat. | Julia_Sudnitskaya/Getty Images

  • Truth: There are “good” and “bad” kinds of fat. Set limits on both.

Studies have shown that low-fat diets, at least compared to low-carb diet plans, weren’t largely effective weight loss options. Put simply, added sugars often contribute to weight gain more than saturated fats. And in cutting fat from your diet, you risk cutting out key components of a diet that promotes eight loss.

Peanut butter, for example, is a high-fat spread. But its “good” fats help you absorb other nutrients, and proves much healthier than a sugar-saturated spread such as jelly.

Next: Don’t believe everything you read on the label.

A supplement will help you lose weight

man pouring out pills from a supplement container with more pill bottles in the background

No supplement will make you lose weight. | iStock

  • Truth: Supplements aren’t as effective as their creators claim they are.

To be clear, some people can and do benefit from taking dietary supplements. But that doesn’t mean every claim they make — especially in regards to weight loss — are entirely true.

Supplements are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, but as foods, not as drugs. That means, even though they can’t claim to cure cancer, supplements can claim to promote weight loss, even if there’s no evidence they actually do that.

Next: Diets usually don’t work — and it’s because of this myth.

There’s a ‘best diet’ out there that will guarantee results

Healthy Lifestyle Diet

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all diet. | iStock.com/Rawpixel Ltd

  • Truth: Diets, as you know them, don’t work.

Popular diets come and go the way all fads do. The issue isn’t that they don’t work at all, but that those who promote them promise the exact same outcomes for everyone who tries them. This unrealistic expectation is the reason so many diets “fail.” When the hip diet of the moment doesn’t work for you, you assume no diet ever will.

Some people go paleo and never look back. Others eat a little bit of everything, never count calories, and reach a healthy weight. The key to healthy, sustainable weight loss isn’t doing the best thing for everyone else, but finding a long-term strategy that works best for you.

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