Obesity has taken center stage as one of the leading health concerns in the United States. Even Michelle Obama has taken a public stand against childhood obesity. Linked to myriad other health conditions from joint pain to heart disease, obesity is almost always preventable. Yet misinformation continues to pervade, leaving many people unsure about the healthiest approaches for overcoming obesity. Getting the real story behind some of the most pervasive diet and nutrition myths can help people make better choices about weight loss.
Myth #1: It’s okay to lose weight fast by drastically cutting calories. Cutting caloric intake is one central component of losing weight, but not the only one. Many patients simply reduce their calorie count by half. Although they might experience rapid short-term weight loss, it is generally unhealthy to continue this pattern. Most people cannot maintain that kind of dietary shortage anyway, and end up gaining the weight later. The best weight-loss plan combines both healthy diet and exercise, for gradual, sustainable weight loss.
Myth #2: Some foods have negative calories. The idea that foods like celery, broccoli, or grapefruit require more calories to digest than they contain has led some people to adopt radical single-food diets. However all foods have calories. People may experience greater weight loss with these foods because they usually use them to replace unhealthy foods in their diets. The nutritional value in these foods makes them excellent additions to a healthy diet, even if they do contain countable calories.
Myth #3: Surgery is a cure-all for weight loss. Patients often pursue bariatric surgery as a “quick fix” for weight loss. However, both lap band and gastric bypass surgeries are invasive procedures that may not be the best choice for everyone. The bottom line: these procedures may curb appetite, but patients must still eat right and exercise if they want to see long-lasting results. Furthermore the procedure requires a long, gradual recovery process, necessitating long-term commitment from patients.
Myth #4: Protein shakes make weight loss easier. Many diets require participants to consume protein shakes, sometimes called meal replacement shakes, up to three times daily. But protein shakes have not been shown to promote weight loss. In fact, since protein is dense in calories, drinking too many can actually derail weight loss efforts. Instead of shakes, high-protein snacks like almonds or soy nuts make the body feel full, decreasing the likelihood of overeating at mealtime.
Myth #5: Some people can’t lose weight because of their metabolism. While metabolic conditions certainly exist, they occur much less commonly than most people realize. Weight loss is almost always a matter of physical activity and diet. Three factors figure into metabolism: body size and composition, gender and age. Larger people and those with more muscle mass actually burn more calories, even at rest, so overweight people generally have higher metabolisms. Meanwhile men tend to have more muscle mass and less fat than women, and therefore have higher metabolisms. Finally as our bodies age, we lose muscle mass, so our metabolism also slows. Yet this slowing is not significant enough to cause excessive weight gain.
Fighting obesity isn’t about gimmicks or quick fixes. It’s about commitment, persistence, and common sense. If you would like to learn more about overcoming obesity, visit our Events page here and register for our free seminar, “Obesity: Is It Affecting Your Health?” The seminar is Wednesday, March 3 at 6:30 pm.