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Hilal Her

Debunking Weight Lose Myths

June 2024

Weight loss is a hot topic nowadays in the world of nutrition. As the world is approaching an obesity epidemic, people are eager to learn how to lose weight and fast. They look for information on the internet, but the internet is filled with weight loss myths and misconceptions. They cannot tell what is true and what is not. Many weight loss practices and supplements help you lose weight but are detrimental to your health in the longer run. As dietitians, it is imperative to bring awareness to our society about these malpractices regarding weight loss. So, let’s bust some weight loss myths and misconceptions!

Fad Diets
Fad diets are popular diets that focus on rapid weight loss, which is usually short-term. It is a restrictive form of diet that has little to no scientific evidence. This dietary pattern only allows us to have foods from specific food groups and avoid the other food groups, which can result in nutritional deficiencies. There are a lot of fad diets nowadays such as Atkins diet, Paleo diet, Keto diet, and Grapefruit diet, and the like.
Very Low Caloric Diet (VLCD) Diets
VLCDs are a weight loss practice in which an individual’s caloric intake is restricted to 800 kcal or less per day.  This extremely low-calorie level may be considered a semi-starvation or a crash diet. This diet is dangerous unless you are under medical supervision for some reasons that require weight loss, such as surgery. VLCDs were developed in the 1970s for people whose body mass index (BMI) was 30 or higher and needed to lose weight quickly because of their medical concerns. A very low-calorie diet is a short-term solution for weight loss. It gives rapid weight loss at the start but is no better in the long term. It is meant to be followed for a limited time. After that, patients must transition to a maintenance diet plan that includes healthy eating, exercise, and other lifestyle changes.
Myths About VLCD
•    Calorie Restriction Always Leads to Long-Term Weight Loss
When you cut down on calories, your body adapts by slowing its metabolism. This is your body’s way of conserving energy, and it can make future weight loss more difficult.
•    Calorie Restriction Means Eliminating Certain Food Groups Entirely
There’s a common belief that losing weight through calorie restriction means cutting out entire food groups. This isn’t just incorrect; it’s an unhealthy approach to dieting. Your body needs a variety of nutrients that come from different food groups. Eliminating an entire group can lead to nutritional deficiencies and health problems.
•    All Calories Are Equal
The belief that all calories are equal, regardless of their source, is a widespread misconception. In reality, the type of calories you consume significantly impacts your health and weight loss efforts. Calories from nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains do more than fill you up. They provide essential vitamins and minerals for overall health, unlike empty calories in sugary snacks and processed foods.
Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is currently the world’s most practiced weight loss phenomenon. Intermittent fasting helps to lose weight and improve overall health and well-being. It is an eating pattern in which you alternate between periods of eating and fasting. It does not tell us which foods to have and which foods to avoid. There are several different methods of fasting, all of which divide the day or week into periods of feeding and fasting. People say that they feel better and have more energy in a rush. Hunger is not usually such a big problem, although it can be a problem at first, as your body gets used to not eating for long periods. Food is prohibited during fasting, but you can drink water, coffee, and tea.
Many researchers have found that intermittent fasting has great benefits for the body and brain. It is also the best way to manage your weight. It can also lead you to live longer. Here are the main health benefits:
Weight Loss: It will help you lose weight and belly fat without actively reducing your calories.
Insulin Resistance: Fasting can reduce insulin resistance, lowering blood sugar by 3% to 6% and fasting insulin levels by 20% to 31%, which should protect against type 2 diabetes.
Inflammation: Some studies show reductions in inflammation markers, a main factor in many chronic diseases like diabetes and PCOS.
Cardiac Health: It can lower bad cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar, and insulin resistance, all risk factors for cardiac disease.
Cancer: Some studies have shown that fasting every other day can reduce the risk of cancer by slowing the development of cancer cells, limiting tumor survival, and slowing the spread of cancer cells.
Nervous System Health: Fasting increases the growth of new nerve cells. It can also protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
Anti-Aging: Fasting can extend an individual’s lifespan; research studies have also shown that it is an effective anti-aging process.
However, intermittent fasting can cause hunger, fatigue, headaches, and irritability, especially in the initial stages. These symptoms often subside over time. Pregnant or breastfeeding women, individuals with eating disorders and certain medical conditions, and people taking specific medications should generally avoid IF or consult their doctor first. Some studies suggest intermittent fasting might lead to muscle loss if it is not combined with sufficient protein intake.
Myths About Exercise
•    You Can Target Fat Loss from A Specific Area of Your Body
Working out can reduce overall fat, but you can’t control what body part burns the fastest. Your body breaks down fat and uses it as fuel when you exercise. It will effectively reduce fat from all areas of your body, rather than solely targeting the specific area you are focusing on.
•    Lifting Heavy Weights Bulks Up Women
Lifting weights tones and shapes your body. Women have low testosterone levels, so they don’t naturally build massive muscles. Lifting weights can prevent loss of muscle mass, help build bone density, and increase the rate at which your body burns calories to keep you at a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy weight can help you fight off diseases like cancer.
•    Crunches Are the Best Exercises for Your Core
Crunches are one of the least effective core exercises because they don’t eliminate belly fat. If you want to lose belly fat, you can increase your cardio workouts and add resistance training that targets the entire core.
•    Exercise Can Make Up for A Bad Diet
 Exercise by no means makes up for a bad diet. Diet and nutrition play a greater role than exercise in weight management. Processed and frozen foods increase the chances of having cancer. So, don’t treat exercise like an activity that justifies eating unhealthy foods.
•    Illegal Practices in Weight Loss
Both men and women report engaging in unhealthy weight control behaviors. Common behaviors or agents used to control weight include smoking for appetite reduction and compensatory exercise, as well as consuming stimulants such as caffeine, ephedrine, prescription drugs, and energy drinks. Indeed, roughly 12% of adolescent women and 8% of men engage in extreme weight control behaviors, including taking diet pills, laxatives, and diuretics. Despite attempts to control weight, those who engage in unhealthy dietary practices regain weight over time, develop depression, and have eating disorders.
Dietary Weight Loss Supplements
You should think before taking any of these supplements for many reasons. Here are some of the most common reasons:
•    The ingredients in weight loss supplements can cause side effects like nausea, dizziness, headache, and bloating, which will make you feel miserable while you’re trying to lose weight. They also may interact with other medications you’re taking or cause an allergic reaction if you have food allergies.
•    If you start taking a weight loss supplement and notice that it’s helping with your appetite control or energy levels, then it’s easy for this feeling to become addictive. This is especially risky if the product contains caffeine or other stimulants because these substances have been linked with substance abuse problems in some cases.
•    Health risks associated with certain ingredients used by manufacturers who want cheap ways to make their products seem effective but don’t consider potential consequences until after they’ve already sold thousands of bottles containing harmful substances like ephedrine alkaloids, which can cause heart attacks when taken in large doses.
Gastric Bypass Surgery
Gastric bypass surgery is a type of weight loss surgery. During which, your physician makes changes to your stomach and small intestine to change the way they absorb and digest food.
•    After surgery, you can’t eat as much as before because this new stomach pouch can only accommodate a small amount at a time. 
•    The surgery produces changes in the hormones secreted by the intestines that decrease your hunger and improves how your body utilizes the sugar you consume. That’s the main way it helps treat diabetic patients. 
•    As the intestines are altered, some of the fat in the food you eat isn’t absorbed, which is why you start losing weight. 
•    Weight comes off fast initially. After surgery, people can lose up to 15 to 30 pounds in the first few weeks. Studies show a 52% to 68% weight loss in patients with gastric bypass over 10 years. 
Regardless of how you initiate your weight loss journey, the key to maintaining it is by adopting sustainable lifestyle changes such as a nutritious diet and regular exercise. If you are feeling uncertain about where to begin, the number of calories to reduce, or how to approach it in a safe manner, you might want to consult a registered dietitian.

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