16 Lies You’ve Been Told About Losing Weight

When it comes to losing weight, we often rely on information from the web, what we read on social media, and the people around us. It’s easy to find weight-loss advice from different sources, but determining what’s true and what’s a myth can be difficult. You’ll read tips that contradict one another and hear about diets that seem both plausible and ridiculous at the same time. Here are 16 weight-loss myths we’re debunking.

1. The less you weigh, the healthier you are

female feet on a weighing scale

The scale can’t tell you about your health. | iStock.com

The number on the scale does not define you, nor does it always reflect how healthy you are. The goal of a weight-loss journey should be more than just working to make the number on the scale go down. If you’re eating healthy and exercising regularly, you may even experience a tiny bit of weight gain due to an increase in muscle mass. According to Everyday Health, muscle is more dense than fat and takes up less room in the body. This means you can lose fat and gain muscle, but look leaner while maintaining the same weight.

2. You should only eat 1,200 calories a day

Man eating very small dinner

This is not nearly enough. | iStock.com

While it’s important to watch calories when trying to lose weight, it doesn’t mean that you should restrict yourself to the 1,200 calories that’s often thought of as the magic number. Everyone’s metabolic rate is different, meaning the rates at which our bodies burn calories differ. SFGate mentions that people who have more muscle tend to have a faster metabolism than those with more body fat. And since body composition varies from individual to individual, the amount of calories that we burn throughout the day is unique to each person. This mean’s there’s no set number of calories that everyone should aim for.

3. You should cut out certain food groups

Loaf of bread

Don’t cut out food groups completely. | iStock.com

Carbohydrates are one of the main nutrients our bodies need to function. Mayo Clinic mentions they provide the body with energy, can help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, and are actually needed to control weight. Carbs are found in many different foods, including fruits and vegetables, not just bread. So, choosing to get rid of carbs entirely isn’t realistic for losing weight. Have the occasional slice of pizza and piece of cake to satisfy cravings, but don’t cut major food groups out entirely when trying to slim down. Chances are, you’ll restrict yourself too much, which can lead to overeating later on.

4. Following a certain diet trend will help you lose weight

Grilled meat with cranberry

You won’t automatically lose weight from certain diets. | iStock.com

There are so many different diet trends, including gluten-free lifestyles and veganism. Truth is, strictly eating vegan or suddenly eliminating gluten does not automatically make you drop 10 pounds. Sure, there may be health benefits of each diet, but unless you understand how to properly nourish your body when following these lifestyles, you can gain weight rather than lose it. Before adopting any new eating plan, make sure you know where you’ll be getting your carbohydrates, fats, and protein from.

5. Weight-loss supplements will make you skinny

Variety of pills

Be careful with supplements. | iStock.com

Drinking detox teas and taking fat-burning supplements is not the key to weight loss. Mayo Clinic says that very little research has been done to prove how effective weight-loss supplements can be, so relying on them entirely to get in shape is unrealistic. Rather then depending on fat-burning pills or detox teas, you should follow a wholesome diet and exercise regularly. Anything that promises a quick and easy solution is probably just a scam.

6. You can eat whatever you want as long as you work out

Man eating chips

Your diet matters. | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

While working out is essential to healthy weight loss, it’s a myth that spending countless hours at the gym while eating whatever you want will lead to weight loss. The saying that abs are made in the kitchen is true because you can’t expect your body to change solely by working out. An expert tells The Huffington Post that weight loss is usually 75% what you eat and 25% exercise. It’s important to pay attention to working out, but it’s even more important to be mindful of the food that you’re putting into your body if you’re trying to lose weight.

7. Anything labeled ‘diet,’ ‘all-natural,’ and ‘fat-free’ is healthy

Woman reading food label

Watch out for these phrases. | iStock.com

The marketing industry has a clever way of advertising products to persuade people to buy them. When it comes to food, companies often package their products in ways that convey them as healthy to consumers, even if they’re not. In fact, The Washington Post says a study has found drinking diet soda may contribute to packing on excess belly fat. Products with these labels can still contain unhealthy ingredients, including high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats. Better to read the label than trust the clever wording.

8. Cardio is key

Running on a treadmill

Cardio isn’t all you need. | iStock.com

Many people have the idea that cardio is the best way to lose weight. While increasing cardiovascular activity is important, it’s equally important to incorporate strength training exercises into your routine to help build muscle. Active.com says weight exercises help build strong connective tissue and tendons in the body, helps you perform daily activities, enhances bone density, and builds lean muscle. When exercising to lose weight, make sure to include both cardio and strength exercises in your routine to build muscle and burn more fat.

9. You should only eat three meals a day

Woman choosing a snack

Don’t be afraid of healthy snacks. | iStock.com

The number for how many meals you should eat a day for weight loss always seems to vary. From only allowing yourself three meals to eating six small ones, people will always tell you different things. However, according to WebMD, experts say that it’s not about how many times a day you eat, but about the number of calories you’re consuming. You can eat however many times you want, but you have to make sure that you don’t wind up overeating if you find yourself noshing throughout the day. Sticking with three meals can also backfire if you’re starving by the time you make it to your next meal.

10. Your BMI is an accurate indicator of how healthy you are

Woman Adjusting Weight Scale

Your BMI can’t tell you everything. | iStock.com

Your BMI uses your height and weight to determine about how much body fat you have. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, anything below 18.5 is considered underweight, falling between 18.5 and 24.9 is normal, 25 to 29.9 is overweight, and above 30 is obese. However, BMI isn’t the best way to measure your body fat because everyone’s body composition is different. Medical Daily mentions it’s possible for people to fall inaccurately on the BMI scale because it ignores certain intricacies.

11. Skipping meals will make you skinny

Woman on gluten free diet

Skipping dinner will not help you lose weight. | lolostock

FYI: Skipping meals won’t do your body any favors. For one, skipping meals causes your blood sugar to drop, as mentioned by Women’s Health. When this happens, you’ll notice a slump in your mood, a drop in energy, and you might have trouble thinking clearly. If you keep it up, your body will eventually be forced to start breaking down muscle for fuel. This will take a toll on your metabolism, ultimately leaving you worse off. You’re better off sticking with regular meals filled with foods that will keep you energized. Think protein, produce, and whole grains.

12. Eating healthy is boring

Savory Oatmeal in a bowl with spoon

There are plenty of ways to spice up your meals. | iStock.com

Eating healthy doesn’t mean having just veggies and lean protein 24/7. While they should be staples in your diet if you’re trying to lose weight, there’s a whole world of other options out there that taste fantastic. From sandwiches and soups to snacks and dessert (yes, nutritious desserts do exist), you’d be surprised at just how delicious healthy foods can be. Obviously, that’s a lot to keep your taste buds happy.

13. You can go wild on cheat days with no consequence

junk food consisting of fries, onion ring,s chips, soda, and a burger

Don’t go crazy on your cheat day. | iStock.com

While you should definitely let yourself enjoy your favorite unhealthy foods from time to time, just be mindful there is such a thing as going overboard on your cheat day. If you take the term cheat day literally by eating unlimited amounts of junk food for every meal and snack, you’re just going to derail your weight-loss efforts. Doing so can leave you feeling sluggish, and Life by Daily Burn says it can also cost you a ton of calories. Instead, aim for a cheat meal each week. Sure, have that piece of dessert you’ve been craving, but refrain from turning the day into an eatathon.

14. You can’t ever eat out

Friends Enjoying Evening Meal In Restaurant

You can still make good choices when eating out. | iStock.com/Bowdenimages

Just because you’re trying to lose weight, doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite restaurants. Healthy living is about making good choices. If you’re eating at a restaurant, opt for grilled instead of fried foods, ask for dressing on the side, and go for water instead of sugary drinks. It’s also smart to look at the menu ahead of time, that way you know what options will be available to you. This can also take away the stress from having to choose later on.

15. You’re in the clear once you lose the weight

apple and processed foods

Keep your healthy habits. | iStock.com

Unfortunately, weight doesn’t just stay off after you’ve lost it. This is an easy mistake to make, which could be why many people gain everything back later on. According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, only about 20% of people manage to maintain their weight loss in the long run. If you want to be part of that 20%, you have to keep up with a healthy lifestyle, even after you’ve reached your goal.

This circles back to crash dieting and exercise overload. If you want to keep the weight off forever, you have to make lifestyle changes, not just “right now” changes. Eat well, stay active, and understand what makes you feel and look good. Finding that balance and what works for you is what’s going to help keep those pounds off for good.

16. Your weight is only about diet and exercise

man sleeping on office desk

Weight loss is more than just exercise and diet. | iStock.com

Many people think weight loss is only about what you eat and how much you exercise, but that’s not true. One factor you can’t control is genetics. WebMD explains certain genetic makeups increase the likelihood of obesity by 20% to 30%. What you eat and your level of physical activity still matter a lot, but what you’re mama gave you certainly plays a role.

And there’s more. Lack of sleep could hurt your weight-loss efforts, too. The Huffington Post says sleep deprivation causes an increase in cortisol, the stress hormone that can boost your appetite for sugary and fatty foods. This isn’t exactly what you want if you’re trying to lose weight because we all know how tricky it can be to simply ignore a craving. Luckily, sleep duration is something you can control to a certain extent. You might have to cut back on perusing the web or watching TV, but it’ll be worth it.