Do you spend your days scouring random websites that give unending tips on weight loss? And no matter how hard you try, the bulge refuses to budge? Experts say that there is just too much misinformation related to weight loss that floats around, making the job of doctors difficult.
“Once, a patient told me that he skipped his workout for five days as he had early morning work assignments. He believed that only morning workouts can help one lose weight, whereas the truth is that you can work out at any time of the day. A 150-minute workout per week is good enough to stay fit,” says Dr Sujit Jha, head, endocrinology, Max Hospital.
Dr. Tarun Mittal, obesity surgeon, Gangaram Hospital agrees. “The journey of weight loss can be very tricky — there are just too many misconceptions out there that throw a roadblock in front of your dieting plan. A large number of people think that skipping breakfast can be a shortcut to weight loss, but the reality is that it can actually lead to weight gain,” he says.
Here are the most common weight loss myths that can throw a spanner in your weight loss plan:
Fiction: Skipping meals makes you thin
Fact: Skipping meals can leave you feeling hungry and may cause you to crave food that’s high in fat and sugar. You will also be missing out on essential nutrients. “Starvation puts your body into a shock mode, and it starts storing fat faster,” explains Jha.
Fiction: Have six meals a day to lose weight
Fact: Many people believe that having six meals a day can lead to weight loss, which is a myth. “When doctors say that you should have six meals a day, they do not mean six full meals. The idea is to have three healthy meals and three healthy snacks a day,” says Jha.
Fiction: Diet sodas have zero calories
Fact: Getting fooled by those ‘zero calorie’ labels on diet soda cans? What you probably didn’t notice is that most of them contain artificial sweeteners such as aspartame that lead to more weight gain than sugar. Wondering why? Because they make you crave for carbohydrates, increase your appetite and trigger fat storage. “They can also cause migraine , depression and memory loss,” reveals Mittal.
Fiction: Carbohydrates make you fat
Fact: Eliminating carbohydrates completely from your diet to get into shape is never a good idea. Eaten in the right quantities and as part of a balanced diet, carbohydrates will not (i.e. without butter, creamy sauces, etc), on their own lead to weight gain. “Eat whole grain and wholemeal carbohydrates such as brown rice and wholemeal bread, and potatoes with the skins on to increase your fibre intake and don’t fry starchy foods when trying to lose weight,” explains Mittal.
Fiction: Exercise alone or diet alone can lead to weight loss
Fact: The two always go hand in hand. It’s very important to have a balanced diet and follow a regular workout regime to lose weight. Just exercising can’t help you tone up or simply going on a diet with no workout won’t help you achieve a toned body.
Fiction: Thyroid can make you fat
Fact: This is the most common myth among those suffering from thyroid. “Thyroid is rarely the cause of weight gain. It can lead to only 0.5-2kg of weight gain, not more ,” says Jha.
Fiction: Water retention makes you fat
Fact: Weight gain doesn’t have much to do with water retention, unless you’re suffering from a serious disorder such as kidney failure. “Water retention can’t really make anyone fat. One can put on around 0.5-2.5kg, but not more in most of the cases,” says Tandon.
Fiction: Cutting down on calories makes you slim
Fact: It is not just about cutting down on calories. Apart from calorie count, you need to identify the quality of calories in your diet. You must distinguish between good calorie and bad calories. For instance, you know that 100 calories that you get from aalu bhujia and 100 calories derived from banana cannot mean the same thing when it comes to health ,” says Jha.
Fiction: Fruits can make you fat
Fact : It is a myth that fruits can lead to weight gain. Sugar that occurs naturally in fresh fruits doesn’t cause your waistline to expand. “No one ever became fat by eating fruits. What is really harmfull is the sugar that you find in packaged fruit juices and canned fruits,” explains Tandon.