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Popular Weight Loss Myths

Dieting and weight loss is a subject filled with myths, half-truths and inaccuracies. Here are some of the more common fallacies about losing weight.

Weight Loss Myth 1. Being Overweight is Unhealthy

This is not true. Being overweight may be unfashionable but it's not necessarily unhealthy.

The Truth: Being overweight is not necessarily unhealthy, indeed there is evidence that people who are up to 10 pounds overweight actually live longer than those of normal weight. It is only when we become seriously overweight or 'obese' that our health begins to suffer. Another important factor is where we carry our excess weight. For example, an obese man who carries his excess weight around his middle is more vulnerable to disease than an obese man whose excess weight is distributed more widely. Finally, exercise has a very important influence on longevity and quality of life.

Weight Loss Myth 2. Dieting Doesn't Work

This is probably the biggest myth of all. Losing weight is a very scientific matter. If we eat fewer calories than we use, our body takes some of our stored fat and converts it into energy. Result? We lose weight.

The Truth: Any diet plan that provides us with fewer calories than we need, is guaranteed to help us lose weight. However, whether we follow it is another matter.

Weight Loss Myth 3. Losing Weight Means Eating Small Portions

We are all brainwashed into thinking that losing weight or dieting means eating tiny portions. But it's not true. Because some foods contain a lot more calories than others. For example, one small pastry can be higher in calories than a whole plateful of chicken, potatoes and vegetables.

The Truth: Losing weight means eating fewer calories than we need. However, by choosing foods which are low in calories (and taking regular exercise) we can often lose weight WITHOUT eating less. In fact, sometimes we can actually eat MORE.

Weight Loss Myth 4. We Can Lose Weight From Specific Parts of our body

This is not true.

The Truth: When we start a weight loss plan and eat fewer calories than we need, our body burns fat from all available fat stores, not just from particular parts. We cannot control this process. If a diet claims to help you lose weight from (e.g.) your thighs only, don't believe it!

Weight Loss Myth 5. Some People are Fat even Though They Eat Next to Nothing

It's true that we may gain weight even though we don't seem to eat very much. Why? Because each of us uses up calories at a slightly different rate, according to our metabolism or metabolic rate. Also, certain foods are very calorie-dense. So even though we eat like a sparrow, we can still weigh like an elephant! Also, studies suggest that when we are overweight we tend to underestimate our calorie intake.

The truth: Unless we have a specific medical condition, the reason we become overweight is because we are eating more calories than we use. The unused calories are then stored as fat.

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Weight Loss Myth 6. Certain Foods Can Help us Burn Fat

Many diets claim that certain foods (e.g. pineapple, grapefruit etc.), or food combinations (e.g. beetroot & ice-cream etc.) have a magic fat-burning ingredient. Some 'weight loss experts' actually promote fat-burning diets.

The truth: There are no magical fat-burning foods or diets. Period.

Weight Loss Myth 7. Late Night Eating Leads to Weight Gain

Our body metabolises food in the same way, whether it's midday or midnight. So late-night eating is no more likely to damage your weight loss or lead to weight gain, than mid-morning eating.

The truth: It's not WHEN you eat that counts - it's WHAT you eat. So although eating high-calorie foods like cookies, ice cream and cakes in front of the TV can lead to weight gain, this is because of the high-calorie nature of the foods, not because it's late in the evening.

Weight Loss Myth 8. People are Overweight Because They Don't Exercise

This is not really true, either. It is true that lack of exercise is a contributory factor to a general rise in weight and obesity. Also, exercise is also extremely important for our health and for it's indirect effects on our weight. It burns calories, builds muscle and reduces our body fat percentage - which helps us burn calories faster.

Even so, it's worth remembering that you need to walk 80 kilometers (50 miles) to lose 1 pound of fat. And a vigorous 60-minute fitness workout in the gym is unlikely to burn off more than 600 calories - the equivalent of only two 2-ounce bars of chocolate. So exercise (or lack of it) does not have a huge direct influence on our weight.

The truth: The single biggest cause of obesity is bad eating habits. The majority of people become obese because they eat too many fattening foods, and as a result ingest too many calories.

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