Weight Loss Nutrition Myths

weight loss

Myths about weight loss

Meal Myths

Myth: “I can lose weight while eating whatever I want.”

Fact: To lose weight, you need to
use more calories than you eat. It is possible to eat any kind of food you want
and lose weight. You need to limit the number of calories you eat every day
and/or increase your daily physical activity. Portion control is the key. Try
eating smaller amounts of food and choosing foods that are low in calories.

Tip: When trying to lose weight, you
can still eat your favorite foods—as long as you pay attention to the total
number of calories that you eat.

Myth: Low-fat or nonfat means no calories.

Fact: A low-fat or nonfat
food is often lower in calories than the same size portion of the full-fat
product. But many processed low-fat or nonfat foods have
just as many calories as the full-fat version of the same
od or even more calories. They may contain added
sugar, flour, or starch thickeners to improve flavor and texture after fat is
removed. These ingredients add calories.

Tip: Read the Nutrition Facts Label
on a food package to find out how many calories are in a serving. Check the
serving size too it may be less than you are used to eating. For more
information about reading food labels, read the brochure Energize Yourself and
Your Family
, from the Weight-control Information Network (WIN) or visit the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) online at www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/foodlab.html.

Myth: Fast foods are always an unhealthy choice and
you should not eat them when dieting.

Fact: Fast foods can be part of a
healthy weight-loss program with a little bit of know-how.

Tip: Avoid supersize combo meals, or
split one with a friend. Sip on water or nonfat milk instead of soda. Choose
salads and grilled foods, like a grilled chicken breast sandwich or small
hamburger. Try a “fresco” taco (with salsa instead of cheese or sauce) at taco
stands. Fried foods, like French fries and fried chicken, are high in fat and
calories, so order them only once in a while, order a small portion, or split an
order with a friend. Also, use only small amounts of high-fat, high-calorie
toppings, like regular mayonnaise, salad dressings, bacon, and cheese.

Myth: Skipping meals is a good way to lose weight.

Fact: Studies show that people who
skip breakfast and eat fewer times during the day tend to be heavier than people
who eat a healthy breakfast and eat four or five times a day. This may be
because people who skip meals tend to feel hungrier later on, and eat more than
they normally would. It may also be that eating many small meals throughout the
day helps people control their appetites.

Tip: Eat small meals throughout the
day that include a variety of healthy, low-fat, low-calorie foods. For more
information about healthy eating, read the WIN brochure Healthy Eating
and Physical Activity Across Your Lifespan: Tips for

Myth: Eating after 8 p.m. causes weight gain.

Fact: It does not matter what time
of day you eat. It is what and how much you eat and how much physical activity
you do during the whole day that determines whether you gain, lose, or maintain
your weight. No matter when you eat, your body will store extra calories as

Tip: If you want to have a snack
before bedtime, think first about how many calories you have eaten that day. And
try to avoid snacking in front of the TV at night it may be easier to overeat
when you are distracted by the television.


Photo of a woman lifting hand weights

Physical Activity Myth

Myth: Lifting weights is not good to do if you want to
lose weight, because it will make you “bulk up.”

Fact: Lifting weights or doing
strengthening activities like push-ups and crunches on a regular basis can
actually help you maintain or lose weight. These activities can help you build
muscle, and muscle burns more calories than body fat. So if you have more
muscle, you burn more calories—even sitting still. Doing strengthening
activities 2 or 3 days a week will not “bulk you up.” Only intense strength
training, combined with a certain genetic background, can build very large

Tip: In addition to doing at
least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (like walking 2 miles
in 30 minutes) on most days of the week, try to do strengthening activities 2 to
3 days a week. You can lift weights, use large rubber bands (resistance bands),
do push-ups or sit-ups, or do household or garden tasks that make you lift or

Photo of a woman eating a salad at home

Food Myths

Myth: Nuts are fattening and you should not eat them
if you want to lose weight.

Fact: In small amounts, nuts can
be part of a healthy weight-loss program. Nuts are high in calories and fat.
However, most nuts contain healthy fats that do not clog arteries. Nuts are also
good sources of protein, dietary fiber, and minerals including magnesium and

Tip: Enjoy small portions of nuts.
One-third cup of mixed nuts has about 270 calories.

Myth: Eating red meat is bad for your health and makes it harder to lose

Fact: Eating lean meat in small
amounts can be part of a healthy weight-loss plan. Red meat, pork, chicken, and
fish contain some cholesterol and saturated fat (the least healthy kind of fat).
They also contain healthy nutrients like protein, iron, and zinc.

Tip: Choose cuts of meat that are
lower in fat and trim all visible fat. Lower fat meats include pork tenderloin
and beef round steak, tenderloin, sirloin tip, flank steak, and extra lean
ground beef. Also, pay attention to portion size. One serving is 2 to 3 ounces
of cooked meat—about the size of a dec


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