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Ignore These 10 Myths About Weight Loss

tape measure around waistCutting-edge science has dis­covered that much of what we previously considered to be dietary common sense is actually nonsense. If you want to look and feel great, and lose the excess baggage around your midsection, ignore these myths and pay attention to these proven nutritional secrets.
1. All diets are destined to fail.
Nearly any diet, whether it be low-fat, vegan, Paleo, Weight Watcher’s, Atkins’ or the Whole 30, when fol­lowed will result in temporary weight loss. Yet, nearly all of these fail in the long run unless followers permanently change their eating patterns and lifestyles.
Better than falling for the latest fad diet, is to gradually change your daily routine to include the right kinds of natural whole foods and avoid the nasty but tasty processed foods. We have discovered that it can be as simple as eating lots of vegetables, a modest-sized serving of healthy pro­tein with each meal, avoiding sugar and processed carbs. Healthy is the new wealthy, and one of the best ways to invest in your future happiness and well-being is to change your eating habits—one at a time.
2. It’s necessary to count your calories.
You’ll be relieved to know that counting calories is entirely unnec­essary if you eat the right foods. To your body, food is information. As an example, 100 calories of a processed breakfast cereal is digested in a flash and spikes your blood glucose and insulin, leaving you famished and defenseless two hours later when you walk by that plate of cookies at work. Contrast that with 100 calories of lightly salted mixed nuts, which don’t even nudge your blood glucose and keep you filled up for hours longer.
Processed carbs and added sugar hijack your metabolism and hor­mone levels, making you crave junk food. You will be much less likely to overeat plain almonds or binge on vegetables dipped in guacamole. Also, a person will quickly absorb all of the calories after eating a bagel with cream cheese, whereas about one-third of the calories from nuts are never absorbed and instead just end up adding bulk to the stool. So stop counting calories, and instead start being picky about the foods you put in your mouth.
3. Willpower is essential.
Hormones overpower willpower every time. This is especially true when you’re driven by your hor­mones to crave the sweet, starchy, pro­cessed foods that are available 24/7 almost everywhere you go. Using willpower to resist these temptations is virtually impossible.
The take-home message is that if you are relying on willpower to lose your belly fat, you are probably eating the wrong diet.
4. Carbs cause obesity.
A carb is not a carb. Without ques­tion, carbs from added sugars and refined grains lead to weight gain, inflammation and disease, but carbs in the form of non-starchy vegetables, legumes, berries and other fruit will help to burn off fat.
Importantly, the difference be­tween carbs that cause weight gain versus those that foster weight loss is how much fiber they contain and how fast they raise the blood sugar. For example, a slice of whole wheat bread will spike the blood sugar faster and higher than a Snickers bar. In contrast, the carbs in a kale or arugula salad take a long time to eat and a longer time to digest. They won’t even budge the blood sugar.
A Harvard and Tufts University study followed 130,000 people for almost 25 years and found the more carbs you eat in the form of vegetables, fruits, and legumes, the lower your risk of obe­sity. In contrast, a different Harvard study reported that the more carbs you consume in the form of sugars, sweets, and processed foods, the more fat you will carry on your body. In our experience as a dietitian and a cardiologist, the most important factor in being obese or fit and trim is the type of carb you get in the habit of eating.
5. Just exercise more to lose weight.
Usually, my patients’ main excuse for gaining weight is that they haven’t got time to exercise. In reality, what you eat is the main determinant of your weight. Diet accounts for 70 percent of body composition. You simply can’t outrun a bad diet.
Changing your food and beverage choices will cause weight loss much more effectively than any exercise program will.
On the other hand, exercise is cru­cial for maintaining a healthy weight. My favorite way to increase exercise is to track my daily steps.
The first step in changing anything is measuring it—once you begin tracking your steps, you will magically increase your daily activity by almost one-third.
6. Eating fat will make you fat.
Even today many “experts” try to convince us that eating fat is what makes us fat. Meanwhile, diabetes and obesity rates exploded among those people who faithfully ate their fat-free cereal topped with skim milk each morning. To the contrary, eat­ing a high-fat breakfast like yogurt with pecans, or smoked salmon with guacamole will prevent obesity and diabetes.
Tragically, many folks still shun some of the most wholesome foods such as avocados and nuts believing that eating fat makes them fat. The single most important nutritional study ever published, the PREDIMED trial, studied 7,500 patients at risk for heart disease and found that consuming extra-virgin olive oil or nuts every day not only didn’t cause weight gain, but it markedly reduced strokes, dementia, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
As with carbs, all fats are not creat­ed equal. Some of them, like trans fat, are delicious but poisonous and will expand your waistline while constrict­ing your coronary arteries. Trans fat, despite what you read on the labels, is found in nearly all processed foods. The big food companies deceive us by proclaiming “zero trans fat.” But if you read the fine print in the ingredient list you’ll see: partially hydrogenated vegetable oil—this is a code word for trans fat. Even these small doses of trans fat are toxic to your brain, heart and body, so don’t eat anything with hydrogenated fats anywhere on the label.
The key is to eat a high-fat diet rich in natural whole foods like nuts and seeds, olive oil, avocados, and oily fish such as salmon, trout, sea bass and sardines. Indeed, in this eating style you will get at least 50 percent of your calories from these healthy fats. The take-home message is that you have to eat something. When you avoid fat and animal products you tend to eat way too many processed carbs.
7. Never skip breakfast, and eat frequent small meals.
For decades, nutritional gurus have been telling us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and that you should snack often and never miss a meal. Turns out these experts were heavily subsidized by cereal companies who makes billions selling us “carbage” breakfast cereals and junky snack foods.
In fact, fasting for at least 12 hours every 24 hours is one of the best things you can do for prevent­ing obesity, cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. So missing, or at least delaying breakfast for a few hours can be very good for you. Joan says don’t snack unless it’s necessary. Shockingly, the more often we swallow calories the more weight we tend to gain. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t feel compelled to eat breakfast or eat frequent small meals; that advice is designed to make big food corpora­tions wealthier, but won't make you healthier.
8. You need to go gluten-free.
When my patients tell me they follow a gluten-free diet, I tell them they need to also avoid all gluten-free products. It’s not the gluten that is the most toxic aspect of wheat—it’s the refined starch. Eliminating refined grains and added sugars from your diet is critically important if you want to be fit and healthy.
Gluten is a protein in wheat and other grains that can cause an allergy, which triggers digestive problems or autoimmune diseases in about 1 or 2 percent of people. But nearly 100 percent of people who eat a diet high in starchy processed carbs and sweets will suffer health consequences. On the other hand, modest amounts of whole grains are healthy when you consume them in foods like oatmeal, quinoa, or barley (ideally in vegetable soup).
9. You must starve yourself to lose weight.
Hunger is like gravity, you can fight it for a time, but it always wins in the end. So, although you can starve yourself to lose weight for the short term, it’s nearly impossible to avoid re­gaining the weight if you’re constantly hungry.
Hunger is a complicated and pow­erful craving that’s often driven by raging hormones, which can go up for reasons other than a lack of calories. Too much stress spikes your cortisol; excess sugar and processed carbs el­evate insulin, and too much junk food and not enough sleep can cause leptin resistance.
All of these hormones make your brain think it’s starving and you will be compelled to overeat, even though you may have just consumed a giant meal and are already obese. Or maybe you think you’re hungry when actually you’re thirsty due to dehydration.
A secret to losing weight is to keep your tummy full and your hunger suppressed. The best way to accom­plish this is to eat more vegetables, fruits, and legumes, and eat a modest-sized serving of protein at each meal. Choose healthy fats; and you must shun sugar and processed carbs. You cannot overdo the non-starchy veg­etables—the more of these you eat the healthier you will look and feel.
10. You can’t have your favor­ite foods.
Most people have their “comfort foods,” and if they can’t eat them as an occasional treat they feel deprived. The key is to substitute healthy alternatives for some of your comfort foods. For instance, I love potatoes, but generally avoid them because they tend to spike the blood sugar.
Even so, Joan uses a couple of tricks so we CAN enjoy our potatoes. She has a scrumptious recipe that tastes as good as mashed potatoes, but is made instead from mashed cauliflower mixed with garlic and olive oil.
In fact, researchers found that cauli­flower is the single best vegetable for burning off excess fat. The other way we enjoy potatoes is to bake them, scoop out all of the white middle, sprinkle some cheese into the potato skins, then drizzle extra-virgin olive oil inside them and put them back in the oven for another 10 minutes to make the skins crunchy and melt the cheese. As delicious as any junk food out there - except it’s actually good for you in moderation!
In Good Health,
James and Joan O'Keefe
Picture Credit: Pixabay