The result of having a massive industry dedicated to promoting weight loss supplements and fad diets is the prevalence of many half-truths and downright lies that pervade our perception of losing weight.
The struggle to lose weight is a real one, and one I experienced first-hand myself. Do not get caught up in the lies about how you can lose weight quickly, but instead opt to learn about the simple, natural ways you can trim the fat from your body with some simple lifestyle changes and a whole foods, plant-based diet.
The 24 Biggest Lies Pushed by the Weight Loss Industry –
Myth #1 – You can’t lose weight without a weight loss supplement
In the modern world, there is a pill for everything it would seem. In theory, it is a great idea to have supplements that could help stave of food cravings and help motivate the body to lose weight quickly. In reality, these weight loss supplements often do not work, and those that do tend to have a list of negative side effects. The pharmaceutical industry, and it’s little brother of the unregulated, herbal supplement industry, have pushed this notion that weight loss can be sold in magical little pills we can take each day, and continue to take for extended periods of time. For the vast majority of people, weight loss is achievable without the need to spend money on unnecessary, and sometimes unhealthy, weight loss supplementation.
The truth? Start to view the food you eat as a natural supplement. On a whole foods, plant-based diet, you will get all of your core nutrition without the need of an artificial supplement. Sometimes the solution is far simpler than we think.
Myth #2 – You can’t lose weight on a carb heavy diet
This myth is flat-out false, and has gained attention as a result of anti-carb diets (like paleo) that have arisen over the past few years. My own weight loss was predicated on dietary teachings advocated by Dr. McDougall in The Starch Solution, which sees starches (like potatoes - which are a form of carbohydrate), coming to the for of our diets. It worked well enough that I lost over 60 pounds in the process on this carb heavy diet!
The truth? There are 3 primary macro-nutrients – carbohydrates, fats, and protein. There is ongoing debate both by everyday people and scientists through their studies about the balance of these required. For myself, I have minimized the amount of dietary fat, and generally eat a lot of carbs and protein naturally as a result of eating a plant-based diet.
I think some people have a fear of the word “carb” because it has grown to be associated with weight gain, however carbs come in many forms. There are certainly bad carbs, such as eating a store-bought, preservative ridden pizza every night, which is primarily a carbohydrate source. On the other side, every fruit and vegetable is a carbohydrate, and provides an array of invaluable nutrients as well. Learn to think less about the macro-nutrient content of what you are eating, and more about the overall quality of the food itself.
Myth #3 – Some foods can burn fat and make you lose weight
If I told you that eating one bag of baby carrots a day would cause you to burn away fat, would you believe me?
No food, no matter how healthy (like carrots), have the ability to “burn away fat.” The keys to weight loss are not found in single foods, but rather a balanced diet.
The truth? As a vegan, I eat an array of fruits, vegetables, grains, etc. and have managed to lose a significant amount of weight in the process. The secret does not lie in eating one specific food to excess, but rather learning how to eat generally healthy foods more frequently.
Myth #4 – Increased water consumption will make you lose weight
This is an example of one of those “half-truths” about weight loss I mentioned in the beginning of this article. The idea that drinking water miraculously leads to weight loss is inaccurate. There are no miracle properties in water that cause your body to reduce fat as a direct result. However, there is a grain of truth to this still.
The truth? Increased water consumption tends to lead to you feeling more satisfied and less hungry, which in turns often can lead to you eating less. The direct result of eating less is generally fat loss. Even if you don’t eat much less than normal, replacing high calorie drinks like sugary fruit juice and soda with water will help reduce body weight.
Myth #5 – You can lose weight through exercise alone
It is dishonest to suggest that weight loss stems strictly from exercise. While definitely important, it is well known that the key to long term weight loss success comes from living a healthy lifestyle that includes a good diet AND exercise.
The truth? I don’t feel so upset reading this myth because exercise is healthy and valuable to making your life better. With that said, the idea that diet is of no importance to weight loss is shocking, but not difficult to believe. This is especially true for individuals who like the food they are eating, and the amount of food they eat, but they don’t quite want to give it up in exchange for healthier alternatives. New research is showing that effects of exercise on weight loss, without proper diet, is not effective. In some cases, people in the study actually gained weight!
The struggle is real and I can easily sympathize, as I have been in those shoes before. But, the reality is simple: if you want to lose weight and keep it off, you need to eat a better diet and exercise more as well.
Myth #6 – Diet soda helps you to lose weight
When diet soda originally came out, it seemed like a life-saving solution to the Western world’s addiction to sugar. It certainly provides an alternative to regular soda, but is it actually healthier for you? Recent studies have been released showing that diet soda consumption can actually lead to an increase in weight. This is both physical and psychological in how it impacts our bodies.
The truth? Soda is not a healthy option for consumption, and would not be a part of a whole foods based diet as it is not a whole foods source. While diet soda may seem better on the surface, it still will leave you feeling addicted to sugar and caffeine like a regular soda would. While not always an easy challenge, learn to replace soda with water and organic fruit juice and smoothies. Your body will thank you for it, and the fear of weight gain by drinking soda will be forever removed!
Myth #7 – Skipping meals is the key to weight loss
While it is true that reducing calorie intake and generally “eating less” is a part of weight loss, you do not necessarily want to skip breakfast or dinner to get there. There are many problems that arise from this practice. Two that are most critical include:
- You will lose out on the energy required for a certain part of your day. For example, if you skip breakfast, you skip a valuable meal that provides you with fuel to drive to work, do your work well, and return home.
- You just leave yourself feeling hungrier and less satisfied, which can lead to you overeating at a later point.
The truth? The idea behind skipping meals to increase weight loss seems to make sense on the surface, but in practice is just leads to poor nutrition and an insatiable urge to eat more when you get the chance.
Myth #8 – Not eating food after 6PM will cause you to burn fat
The amount of weight you lose is impacted by many variables, but time of day is not one of them. The arbitrary choice of not eating after 6, 7, or 8PM has no logical or scientific weight behind it.
The truth? You should eat when you are hungry and not worry about arbitrary timing of meal consumption. No need to go to bed starving just because you didn’t get a bite in before 6PM.
Myth #9 – Fat free food alternatives means you will lose weight
Reducing the fat content of the food you eat is a good thing, but it is not the end-all-be-all of weight loss. It is easy to fall into the mindset of “if it doesn’t have fat in it, it won’t make me fat.” As I have mentioned before, whether you gain or lose weight is dependent on many factors, and the fat macro-nutrient is just one of them.
The truth? Fat free food products can be useful when paired with foods that are naturally free of fat content, like many fruits and vegetables.
Myth #10 – Fruit is high in calories and will make you gain weight
Some people are misled by the natural sweetness of fruit that they think it is associated with the rise in the overweight and obese among us.
The truth? Fruit is generally low in calories, and much like vegetables, eating an apple or pear will make you feel full and satisfied, but not lead to weight gain. The real value of fruits in an organic, plant-based diet is that it provides a natural sweetener. You can eat fruit on its own, or mixed in with other food groups to create something that tastes distinct and full of flavor, without fear of the next weigh in.
Myth #11 – The only thing that matters for real weight loss is cutting calories
While calories are sometimes a useful measure that we can track, they do not tell the full story about what we are eating. Weight loss is dependent on many factors, and with regards to diet there is more to the food we eat than just calories.
The truth? If you are serious about trimming your waistline, counting calories can be useful. But, if you are already in an app like MyFitnessPal, be sure to count the other macro and micro nutrients that make up your diet as well. Most importantly, remember that not all calories are equal. 100 calories of store bought pizza will interact with your body chemistry in a far different way than 100 calories of organic Swiss chard. It doesn’t take a brain scientist to realize this, but given how much society has become dependent on checking the Nutritional label for the caloric value of a given food product, it is very understandable.
Myth #12 – All macro and micro-nutrients are the same, regardless of the food you eat
Much like how we view calories, macro-nutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) and micro-nutrients (like Vitamin A, magnesium, phosphate, etc.) come in different forms. The quality of protein from red meat is far different from protein derived from plant-life. The very fibers of the organisms are different, and this leads to unique influences on the body. The same can be said for most other nutritional elements. While you may be able to get natural vitamin C from an orange, the vitamin C from processed orange cocktail drinks you purchase at the grocery store is likely very different.
The truth? The big appeal to a whole food, plant-based diet is learning to be reliant on the natural nutrition that can be derived from nature. Artificial supplements and processed foods are the result of man’s intervention, but whole food sources provide the highest quality nutrition.
Myth #13 – Losing weight is a linear process
One of the hardest thing to accept when you try to lose weight is learning to realize that it is a long-term process that should be oriented towards permanent change. This requires rethinking how you think about food and exercise, and your lifestyle in general. Many weight loss trends tend to advocate the ability to lose weight over a generally short period of time, and that each time you weigh yourself, the scale should go down further and further. The truth is that many factors impact your daily weight.
The truth? You may see your weight fluctuate from time to time, sometimes even as much as a couple of pounds. This is due to a number of factors, such as from drinking a lot of water (to keep hydrated!) and having not yet gone to the bathroom.
Myth #14 – Once I lose the weight, it’s easier to keep it off
File this one under “not true for everyone” in a big way. While some people may find it easier to keep the weight away after losing a large amount, for most people it will be a constant struggle. It is difficult to change your mindset to find all of the healthy things in life to be addicting, and while it is certainly possible, it is not usually “easier” by any stretch of the imagination.
The truth? Even if you have lost a lot of weight, it can be difficult to keep it off without a lot of self-control. It’s possible you may slip up one day, and start down a path until you have spiraled out of control. While it is definitely possible to keep off excess weight, it is not always an easy road to walk. Fortunately, the longer you conquer obesity and its role in your life, the easier it becomes to manage cravings and the desire to fall back into your old ways.
Myth #15 – Being thin means a person is healthy
What constitutes healthy varies from person to person. A simple definition of good health would imply someone without disease and in physical shape to do the things they love. Skinny people face a lot of the same challenges, and some very different ones, than overweight people looking to lose weight. While having too much weight is certainly unhealthy, being too thin can also be problematic. At the extreme end, those who suffer from anorexia nervosa (and similar health conditions) are typically very thin, but not healthy at all. It is actually a recognized disorder by the APA (American Psychological Association).
The truth? One of the reasons why we have become addicted to “thinness” is because our society has portrayed these people as having the most beautiful appearances and best lives. Many of the rich and famous tend to be thin, and supermodels reach unrealistic levels that your average person could not match even if they spent all day and night at the gym. If you want to lose weight to preserve your health, and feel better, then that is a great desire. But don’t let the notion that someone skinny is healthy by default fool you – it can be further from the truth than you know.
Myth #16 – Eating snacks will make you gain weight
This is an easy one. There is nothing inherently wrong with snacking, so long as you snack on the right kind of foods.
The truth? It is natural to want to curb hunger throughout the day by eating. It is the nature of virtually every animal species on the planet. The real question becomes – are you going to snack on unhealthy foods like Oreo cookies? Or will you learn to snack on whole foods like fruits and veggies? While some have let the myth that snacking leads to weight gain be a scapegoat for poor self-control, the reality is that snacking is all good as long as you are eating things that are good for you.
Myth #17 – You will lose weight if you treat fruits and veggies like a supplement
Some people just really dislike fruits and vegetables, and only seem to eat them as a side to an otherwise unhealthy meal. Just step inside your average steak house, and you are likely to see plenty of side salads being paired with buttery rolls, large steaks, oily onion rings, and French fries.
The truth? Most people eat at least some good, healthy food in their diets. The problem is making healthy foods the norm. If you treat the good stuff like a supplement, you are not going to reap the positive benefits. If the majority of your diet is comprised of processed foods and fattening products, you can expect that the piece of lettuce you are eating with it won’t do you much good.
Myth #18 – Setting realistic goals when trying to lose weight is completely necessary
This “lie” is a surprising one. We are often told to set realistic goals for ourselves when it comes to dieting. If you are 300 pounds and want to get down to 170, it is usually believed that you should set your first goal at losing 5 or 10 pounds. Reality is far different, even if it seems to contradict common sense.
The truth? Simple setting goals, whether realistic or not, is enough to motivate people to keep the course. In some instances, individuals who set “unrealistic” goals ended up sticking with their workout and diet routines longer.
Myth #19 – An active sex life can replace the need to exercise
One of the stranger myths in the world is the notion that you can get enough “exercise” from an active sex life. As enjoyable as intimacy can be, and as much as it may feel like you are getting a workout, the reality is you simply cannot view sex as a replacement for a regular exercise routine.
The truth? The average sexual encounter lasts about 7.3 minutes. Even a high energy romp only translates into the burning of a small number of calories.
Myth #20 – Fad diets will help you lose weight
Fad diets generally cause you to have a nutrient deficit. Emphasis tends to be placed on specific foods, or food groups, and ignores others entirely without scientific reasoning. These diets are also generally marketed highly, and attempt to sell a product or service to you as well. At the most extreme, fad diets like the Atkins diet have led to the rise of real life products found in even small, local grocery stores.
The truth? Fad diets are a perfect example of how marketing is used to exploit people who are vulnerable. Those who struggle with obesity look at fad diets with the hope that they will pay off in big dividends. The problem is, for most people, they just simply do not work. In the journey towards long term and healthy weight loss, they are an outright lie as well.
Myth #21 – Fast foods are always unhealthy and lead to fat gain
Denying this myth is a double edge sword because fast food restaurants have a tendency to be bad news for even your most health conscious person. The biggest problem with fast food is the allure of poor quality, processed foods that are filled with grease, fat, and a massive quantity of calories. Of course, given the public acknowledgment that fast food is not good for you and ongoing legal battles about things as simple as the size of beverage containers, this has led to a rise in healthier options.
The truth? If you find yourself at a fast food restaurant, there are generally healthier options to choose from. While there is no doubt a salad from Wendy’s is going to be better than a double Baconator, it’s likely that even the salad is not nearly as healthy as what you would have at home. In the least, you don’t have to feel like your entirely abandoning your dietary restrictions. So long as you only eat out once in a while (“make it the exception, not the rule”), you shouldn’t worry about gaining fat as a result if the rest of your diet is health conscious.
Myth #22 – Milk and dairy are essential food groups for weight loss nutrients
Many weight loss diets rely on dairy products to keep you feeling satisfied, but within many of these products lies a lot of fat content and potential allergic reactions. Because the dairy industry is so large and in bed with the government, it is able to pervade common thought in such a way that we start to believe the lies that these products are healthy. The reality is far different.
The truth? Dairy organizations pay a lot of money to put the message out there that their products are good for you. As I can testify to, it is entirely possible to lose weight without the need to consume the byproduct of animals.
Myth #23 – Fasting will lead to rapid weight loss
On the surface, it makes sense that you can lose weight through fasting. After all, the source for the weight we carry around on our bodies is from the foods we eat. It is common sense then that if we stop eating, we will definitely stop gaining weight, and our body will start to eat itself. The problem with fasting isn’t so much that it can lead to weight loss, but rather that it is not a sustainable way to lose weight for the long term. After all, most people looking to lose weight are not just looking to do so for a week.
The truth? Fasting has been used for a variety of reasons since ancient times – most commonly as a religious practice, and more recently as a celebrity weight loss trend that has caught on with the masses. Because it can be so easily abused and get out of hand, it is hard to want to recommend fasting as a weight loss solution for those of us who have already faced the hard challenge of self-control just when it comes to food and exercise. Why add another barrier for admission?
Myth #24 – Becoming a vegetarian or vegan will always make you lose weight and be healthy
While many people (including myself) would like to think that a plant-based diet is the perfect solution for everyone, the reality is that it is entirely possible to do vegetarian and vegan diets the wrong way. One struggle many people have is keeping their diets diverse, so they can reap the benefits of all the nutrients organic plant-life provide us. Fortunately, with a little research and exploration into vegan recipes, it becomes very easy to broaden your horizons.
The truth? Foods that vegans consume are generally very healthy when compared to foods eaten by others (such as red meat and dairy). With that said, too much of a good thing has the potential to be a bad thing as well. If you are not getting all the required nutrients, you will struggle with things ranging from weight gain to constipation. A whole food, plant based diet provides the essential building blocks for a healthy life; now you just need to learn how to build your temple with it.
The Biggest Truth About Weight Loss Lies You Should Remember?
If you have struggled to lose weight throughout the years, you may have likely encountered some of these weight loss lies in the past. Maybe you’ve even fallen prey to one of them as well. I know for myself, the road to losing weight and keeping it off was not an easy one. There is a simple appeal to quickly drop weight, even if it costs some money upfront, and even if we don’t really believe it will work in the first place. For most people, like myself, weight loss is a journey rooted in hard work and dedication to healthier living. My journey really began when I adopted a whole foods, plant-based diet and began to exercise more. These two significant life changes worked together to form a weight loss synergy that I can prove works. After losing 65 pounds and reclaiming my health from obesity, I am happy to say the grass on this side of the fence can turn green if you know how to care for it.