Weight loss is a subject fraught with misinformation and fake news.
Brands try to sell us diet lollies and slimming teas that really don’t work in the long run.
And they try to make you nervous to enjoy lots of foods that have a place in a healthy, balanced diet.
Which is why it’s important to be able to separate weight loss fact from fiction.
Here, we reveal some of the biggest myths when it comes to burning fat and maintaining a healthy weight:
1. Fast food makes you fat
Fast food simply means “pre-prepared”…so technically places like poke bowl joints are fast food and yet their food is undeniably healthy (with selections of sushi, sashimi, broths and salads).
But having a little of what you fancy is often the best way to ensure that you don’t fall entirely off the wagon.
And often, the “healthy” foods at fast food joints aren’t always the lightest items available.
In fact, The Sun previously revealed that many of McDonald’s “healthy” options contain more calories than some burgers, soft drinks and puddings.
Bizarrely, the McDonald’s hamburger really isn’t as calorific as you’d think.
It contains just 250 calories, while the Grilled Chicken Salad has just 133 calories and a whopping 20g of protein.
If you really want to eat healthier, there’s no substitute for wholesome home cooking – using as much fresh veg as possible.
But if you do fancy a treat at McDonald’s, you may as well get something that you’ll enjoy.
2. You can’t lose weight and eat carbs
We know that things like the keto diet can work.
But that’s not necessarily because it restricts carbs – it’s more that low-carb diets require people stop eating anything processed.
So you end up cutting out sugar and overly refined foods.
We need carbs to survive; fruit and veg are carbs, and you definitely don’t want to go cutting those out of your diet.
Carbs aren’t what has made you overweight – blame your intake for processed grub for that.
Many of us don’t get nearly enough fibre.
It’s the stuff that ensures we don’t go too long without having a poo. It wards off things like heart attacks and stroke. It can improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels – crucial in preventing or managing diabetes.
Oh, and it also protects many of us from developing bowel cancer.
The best way to make sure that you’re getting lots of fibre is to eat carbs like oats, wholemeal bread, potatoes and broccoli.
3. ‘Diet’ foods help with weight loss
There’s actually no need for “diet” foods if you’re following a largely whole-food diet.
Often low-fat products are packed with sugars to make up for the taste short-fall, while low-sugar foods are full of sweeteners.
Diet fizz has been found to contain chemicals which damage our gut bacteria.
According to scientists from universities in Israel and Singapore, six common artificial sweeteners – aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, neotame, advantame and acesulfame potassium-k – have all been found to be toxic to gut bacteria.
Although it’s one of the first studies looking into the effect artificial sweeteners have on gut bacteria, it isn’t the first time that these chemicals have been associated with health risks.
They’ve been associated with weight gain, slashing the chances of getting pregnant during IVF, tripling the risk of a deadly stroke and dementia, and raising the risk of developing diabetes.
So sweeteners are really best avoided, as are expensive diet products in general.
4. Fat makes you fat
Despite the popularity of diets like keto which emphasises the importance of dietary fat, some people still believe that eating fat will make them fat.
Again, that’s because we’ve been told for years that low fat = healthier.
Fat is calorie-dense, there’s no doubt about that, and eating a diet rich in unhealthy junk food laden with saturated fat and sugar will result in weight gain.
But eating good fats like nuts and avocado won’t make you put on weight if done with moderation.
There’s a reason the Mediterranean diet consistently comes out top trumps and its reliance on fats like olive oil is key.
5. Supplements are necessary
The weight loss supplement industry is huge.
It’s in its interest to make pills, shakes, teas and lollies seem like an essential part of weight loss.
But actually, the main reason they may work for some dieters is the placebo effect.
If you actively go out of your way to buy and take weight loss supplements, you might also become more conscious of what you eat.
You can definitely lose excess weight without spending any money on medications or supplements – unless your GP prescribes you specific medications to take for extreme cases.
6. Healthy foods are expensive
When you can buy a meal at McDonalds or KFC for a couple of quid, it can be tempting to think of junk food as being cheap – and healthy grub as expensive.
But that’s just not true.
You can buy bags of wholegrain rice cheaply and they can last for ages in your cupboard.
Frozen fruits and veg tend to be cheaper than fresh versions and again, can last for ages.
Pack meals out with beans, pulses and veg and you’ll soon find that your dishes last longer.
Doing that means you can also use less meat which tends to be expensive.
Remember, you don’t have to go to health food shops to eat well, supermarket Harris Farm’s range of Imperfect Picks offers wonky-looking veges at slashed prices.
7. You have to be hungry to slim down
So many of us deprive ourselves with food when we’re trying to lose weight.
We think that we should be hungry.
But that’s not necessarily true.
While things like intermittent fasting can be a great weight loss tool, you don’t have to be hungry to be burning fat.
Giving yourself a massive serving of low-calorie, highly-nutritious veggies like broccoli, spinach and kale at each meal will keep you full while keeping your calorie intake down.
Even if you are fasting, you don’t necessarily feel hungry if you do it right.
As your blood sugars start to balance out, you may find that you can go longer without feeling empty, and that you’re more satisfied with less.
This article was republished with permission from The Sun.