By: Paige Whitmire, RD, LDN & Sammy Griffith, RD, LDN

Weight loss can be a challenge, especially with the many “quick fixes” available. Let’s take a look at the truth.

1. The Myth: Our metabolic rates only slow down as we age.

The Truth: While it’s true that genetics and aging contribute to a reduction in our metabolic rate, we can still boost our metabolism by increasing our lean muscle mass. According to the Mayo Clinic, muscle has a metabolic rate of about three times that of fat. Therefore, the more lean muscle mass you have, the more calories you will burn at rest.

2. The Myth: Eating after dinner causes weight gain.

The Truth: There is little evidence to support that eating after dinner is a significant contributor to weight gain. Although there is truth to the fact that calories eaten before bed will not be quickly metabolized, it is mainly the extra calories, not the time of day, that causes weight gain. Mindless snacking and emotional eating are often the culprits when eating too much after dinner.

3. The Myth: Very low calorie diets and skipping meals can jump start weight loss.

The Truth: Weight loss is all about creating an energy deficit…ingesting fewer calories than your body expends each day. That being said, creating too large of a calorie deficit can backfire. Our bodies are programmed for survival. Severely limiting calories can make your body think it’s entering a starvation mode. It then adapts to the restricted caloric intake, using fewer calories to perform the same tasks. The reality is you can only stay on a very low calorie diet for a short period of time. Once you increase your intake, you will most likely gain any weight you lost (and probably more) back.

4. The Myth: Cutting out carbohydrates will reduce belly fat.

The Truth: There is no specific food or exercise that targets fat loss in one specific area. The only way to reduce fat anywhere on your body is to exercise regularly and create a caloric deficit. Where you lose weight first is mostly dependent on your gender and genetic profile.

5. The Myth: Counting calories is the only way to lose weight.

The Truth: Counting calories can be a negative experience for many with weight loss goals.  We recommend you simplify your nutrition and focus on mindful eating: eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re pleasantly full. Use our hunger scale to help recognize your hunger and fullness cues.

6. The Myth: To boost metabolism, it is best to do a monthly detox and/or juice cleanse.

The Truth: Every healthy living person is constantly “detoxing” and “cleansing” thanks to your liver and kidneys. There is no proven food or nutrient that enhances these actions. Not to mention, juice cleanses often encourage a very low-calorie intake resulting in a deficit of key nutrients, inconsistent blood sugar levels and gastrointestinal distress.

Save your money…don’t fall for “detox” teas or smoothies. Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables and let the detoxing take care of itself!

7. The Myth: Popular diets such as Ketogenic, Whole 30 and Paleo are easy ways to lose weight.

The Truth: Any fad diet that encourages you to cut out entire food groups or food items is not a healthy diet. Although it sometimes seems over said, “everything in moderation” is a great rule to follow. Don’t deprive yourself of food items you love; it doesn’t set you up for success and doesn’t fuel long term change.

8. The Myth: I have to cut out all desserts to lose weight.

The Truth: You should never have to totally cut out dessert to lose weight.  The key is managing how often and how much you are eating.  With dessert, we are often eating it due to psychological reasons and not because we are physically hungry. Determining this will help you make a decision that aligns with your goals.

9. The Myth: As long as I eat perfectly 6 days per week I can have a cheat day and still stay on track.

The Truth: You can’t spend an entire day eating whatever and however much you want and expect to have long term success with weight loss and/or management. You also can’t expect yourself to always make the best nutrition decisions the rest of the time. When you mess up, practice acceptance. Accept that you made a poor decision and don’t waste time beating yourself up over it. That way, instead of experiencing a “downward spiral” and letting yourself get totally out of control, you can focus on making a good choice at your next opportunity and stay on track.

10. The Myth: Cutting out gluten helps you lose weight.

The Truth: Unless diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease or Gluten Intolerance, it is unnecessary to avoid gluten.  If you cut out gluten without having a diagnosis, you can actually develop a gluten intolerance. Gluten is found in many foods that are easy to overeat, like bread and desserts.  Make it easier on yourself…instead of cutting out these foods, watch your portions.

Everyone’s weight loss journey is different and must be addressed in different ways. Don’t succumb to quick fixes and don’t overwhelm yourself. Use these guidelines to keep your diet and weight loss strategies simple!