Special Report

28 Weight Loss Myths That Pack on Pounds

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1. Exercise is enough

It’s hard for some people to accept that they have to work out to lose weight, but it’s equally hard to convince those who think exercise is all it takes to lose weight that exercise is a relatively small part in weight loss. “In reality, it’s more like 80% nutrition and 20% exercise,” Susan Fink, a personal trainer in Los Angeles, said. People underestimate how much they eat and overestimate how much they exercise, she added. “They think they burn a lot more calories than they actually do.” This makes them think it’s okay to eat more, and the result is no weight loss at all or even weight gain, she noted.

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2. Eating late at night is bad

Many people have heard that eating after 7 p.m. is going to lead to weight gain. But eating at night is like eating at any other time of the day. “You should absolutely have dinner if you haven’t eaten,” Shira Hirshberg, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Rhode Island, said. Every person needs a certain amount of calories a day, and if you don’t exceed them, then eating at night will not lead to extra inches around the waist, she noted.

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3. Working hard is all it takes

“People often think that all they need to do is work hard, and that will lead to results,” Tracy Brown, a registered dietitian in Florida, said. “But the body will resist changes and perceive them as famine.” This is why some people are struggling to lose weight — they get discouraged when they actually need to look at the real motive behind their weight loss goals and see if there are other lifestyle changes they can make to achieve their goals, she added.

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4. Sudden changes work

You want to lose weight and decide to make some changes, but implementing them all at once can be counterproductive. For example, if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, then certainly starting to go to the gym will help, but you can’t do that seven days a week right from the start, Fink noted. “In order to lose weight and maintain your new healthy weight, you have to make a lifestyle change,” she said. Sudden drastic changes are not sustainable and a rebound is very likely, she added. “Healthy changes take place over time, so don’t change your entire program at once.” Do one thing differently and add something else to it in a couple of weeks.

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5. Limiting carbs leads to burning fat

People who go on a low-carb diet do see some progress quickly, but it’s not fat they’re losing, according to Hirshberg. “The glycogen in the liver holds water, and this is what you’re actually losing,” she noted. So you see a lower number on the scale and think this diet is working. Numbers, in this case, are incredibly deceiving. Like any diet, if you adhere to it in the long run, you can see results on the scale, but that would be true of any calorie-restrictive diet.

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