Do Carbs Really Make You Fat? Nutritionists Discuss 6 Myths About Losing Weight
Your weight loss program should not compromise your health.
For years, we have seen celebrities, Youtubers, and influencers share their “What I Eat In A Day” vlogs all over the Internet. If you follow them on social media, you’ll have seen many different variations of detox drinks, carb-free meals, and other wellness trends that promise weight loss. At some point, you too were probably enticed to try the same.
Many still want to look “skinnier” or “thinner”, but this often comes at the expense of their health. How do we know our current fitness plan is backed by science? Here, dietitians discuss the myths and misconceptions about losing weight:
Myth #1: Carbs make you fat.
According to Jeanne Guerrero, a Registered Nutritionist-Dietitian (RND), the right amount of carbohydrates will not lead to weight gain. In fact, your body needs carbs to function. Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and without them, it is possible to experience fatigue, headaches, nausea, weakness, and bad breath, among others.
To reap the full benefits of carbs, Christie Ferriell, a registered dietitian and nutrition manager at Reid Health, suggests that you get at least half of your daily carbs from whole grains, fruits, and legumes. If you prefer healthy foods that have a lower carbohydrate content, you can always opt for non-starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds, or soymilk and tofu.
Myth #2: Skipping meals can help you lose weight.
“This is too hard to maintain and is unlikely to result in long-term weight loss,” says Jeanne. “People with this habit tend to develop hyperacidity which can lead to serious gastrointestinal problems.”
An article from Piedmont Healthcare mentions that skipping meals can cause your metabolism to slow down.
“When you skip a meal or go a long time without eating, your body goes into survival mode,” says Haley Robinson, a clinical dietitian at Piedmont. “This causes your cells and body to crave food, which causes you to eat a lot. We usually tend to crave unhealthy foods, and all attempts at eating healthy go out the door. When you are that hungry, anything goes.”
Instead, Haley suggests eating smaller, but more frequent and healthier meals throughout the day. This way, you are less likely to feel hungry since you are providing your body with the nutrients and energy it needs.
Myth #3: You can eat as much junk food as you like, as long as you drink slimming pills.
It may be tempting to use dietary supplements for weight loss, especially when there is a “shed pounds fast!” sign in big, bold letters on the packaging. However, if a product claims to produce magical results, it is most likely not backed by clinical research.
As Jeanne told OneLife.ph, “Without proper exercise and [a] balanced diet, slimming pills may cause harmful effects to the body if not prescribed by a healthcare professional.” Though many diet supplements are harmless, there are still a dangerous few that may cause harmful side effects: increased heart rate, high blood pressure, agitation, diarrhea, bleeding, and sleeplessness.
Allaine Dolera, RND, says, “Majority of supplements that are advertised for weight loss have laxatives that increase your bowel movement. This creates an impression that you have lost weight after taking it; however, it is just water weight being removed from the body.”
Myth #4: Exercise alone will make you lose weight.
Unfortunately, exercising alone is not enough for long-term weight loss. As explained by Allaine, “Diet and exercise are the two important things to note if you want to lose weight. Exercise alone will not make you lose weight if the calories you are burning are not enough to create a deficit, just because your diet does not match.”
Myth #5: Counting every single calorie is a good way to shed pounds.
Aside from the fact that calorie counting makes us see numbers and calculations instead of the tasty food in front of us, it can be an unhealthy habit if done obsessively. Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator Lily Nichols says that labels are not 100% accurate.
“Labeling laws allow a 20% margin of error on the nutrition facts panel. That means your 100-calorie snack pack could be 119 calories. Or that 500 calorie TV dinner could be nearly 600 calories,” says Lily.
Jeanne agrees. “Calorie counting takes a lot of time, effort, and patience because a person needs to do it for every meal of every day. Without proper guidance from a registered nutritionist / dietitian, a person may falsely believe he/she takes enough calories [and] the right amount and quality of macronutrients.”
Myth #6: You can lose weight by cutting off sweets, snacks, and treats from your diet.
This is probably the most popular fad of all. However, Allaine says an overly restrictive diet can work for you at first, but it is unlikely to be sustainable and effective in the long run. Instead, she suggests eating in moderation.
Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist Taryn Schubert corroborates this in an article with Greatist: “All foods fit in a healthy diet! Getting rid of the guilt around them and knowing that they’re always available when you want them takes away their power and the need to overindulge.”
It is important to accept that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss. Each body is different, and what works for other people might not work for you, and vice versa.
Allaine sums it up well: “My advice for those who are trying to lose weight is to not fall for quick fixes. Instead, establish a complete change in lifestyle. Creating an environment that is sustainable makes it effortless to stick [to] your new healthy routine.”
It is definitely a good thing that many of us are taking the leap towards a healthier lifestyle. However, it is our responsibility to do our research and consult those in the know to assist us with our fitness goals.