Whether you’re one of the one in three Americans with obesity or you’re just trying to lose a few pounds to get ready for swimsuit season, weightloss is one of the hottest topics around. Just ask the internet; google “weightloss” and you’ll get a whopping 78 million results. We’d like to think that weightloss isn’t just about cosmetics; it also makes us feel better, and it makes us healthier.
With such an important topic, there is bound to be abundant misinformation. Weightloss is difficult enough as it is; how can you be sure that you’re making the right choices about your health? Thankfully, we’ve put together a guide that can help you do just that. We’ll discuss common weight loss myths about genetics and fad diets, as well as diets and exercise regimens that will get you results (and we’ve got the science to prove it!).
Myths About Weight Loss
There are things we want to believe about how to lose weight in a healthy way (all I have to do is drink this tea to lose weight!) and then there are things we’ve heard about weight loss that we think are true. Here are a few of the most common myths about things to do to lose weight:
Myth #1: Weight Loss Is Determined by Genetics
Actually…it’s not. Stanford University conducted a study of over 600 overweight adults. These individuals received genetic testing and then were assigned to a low-fat diet group or a low-carb diet group. By the end of the study, researchers were able to say conclusively that genetics played zero role in whether or not people lost weight.
What mattered was whether or not they made healthy food choices about diet and weightloss. This might be bad news for those of us who want to blame our weight problems on our parents, but it’s great news for those of us who want to take the responsibility for healthy living into our own hands!
Myth #2: The Fad Diet
Every day, there’s a new celebrity weight loss plan, supplement, vitamin, tea, or other quick fix promising you incredible results for minimal effort. The facts, however, just don’t support rapid weight loss, and they don’t support strange herbs, supplements, and diets like drinking lemon water and cayenne pepper.
Ultimately, what you’re doing with most fad diets is shedding water weight or losing weight because you’re not eating, and that’s just not sustainable. Slow, long-term, healthy weight loss certainly isn’t sexy, but it is the best option for long-term, sustained results.
Myth #3: Just Eat Low-Fat
The low-fat craze of the 80s left us with a plethora of artificial sweeteners and zero- or low-calorie diet foods. At the time, shaky science was used to sell the American public on the evils of saturated fat, and we began to choose carbs and sugar as “healthy” alternatives. We know differently now, but that doesn’t mean our eating habits have changed.
We still find ourselves reaching for the low-fat and zero-calorie items when we’re trying to lose weight because we think they’re the healthier options. Unfortunately, there’s just too much science backing up the inefficacy of calorie counting and low-fat diets as an effective way to lose weight. Don’t worry, though–we’re about to share several diet and lifestyle changes that are proven to work.
Tips for Making Weight Loss Work for You
Whichever diet method you ultimately decide on, we have a few tips for you that will help you be successful.
Weight Loss is a Journey, Not a Destination
We understand the importance of setting goals, but what we often miss when we goal-set for weight loss is that the best weight loss comes from a changed lifestyle, and a changed lifestyle is a journey, not a destination. This involves educating yourself, doing the psychological work to understand your relationship to food, and changing your habits (taking a walk after work, for example, instead of snacking in front of the television).
Small changes add up over the long-term and are much more sustainable. In fact, slow and steady weight loss (around 1-2 pounds per week) is an indicator that you’ll be successful in the long run.
Find a Buddy
Working out with a partner or as part of a group can play a huge role in helping you stick to your regimen, form new habits, and push yourself harder, according to multiple studies. Part of it is that the people we hang out with impact our habits, and part of it is that we don’t want to be the weakest link. We also don’t want to let our partners down, so we’re more likely to keep going where we’d normally quit (if it was just us).
This doesn’t just apply to exercise; it can work with your new diet, as well. Finding a friend or two who can encourage you when you make a mistake, support you when you reach your goals, and help provide that added motivation and commiseration can be a huge asset in reaching your weight loss goals.
Be Willing to Try New Things
One of the best things about weight loss is that it can be an excuse to try new things. Sure, when you’re tired and stressed you want the comfort of your old food standbys, but this is also your chance to try new exercises and group classes that you love, new and exciting foods that you might not have experienced otherwise, and even new friends. In fact, the more you can embrace and find healthy habits you love, the more likely you’ll be to shed that extra weight.
Ready to learn what foods you can and can’t eat in an effective science-backed weight loss diet? Let’s get started!
Repeat after us: fat is not the enemy. It can seem downright indulgent or decadent to enjoy butter (as opposed to margarine), avocados, almonds, or olive oil, but these foods are filled with healthy fats that nourish your body and–believe it or not–help you lose weight. They do this for many reasons, but in part, because you feel full quicker and are less likely to reach for empty foods like potato chips.
The fats you should avoid? Trans fats like those found in fried foods, which are rarely nutrient-dense anyways.
Watch Your Carbs
Carbohydrates are a somewhat complicated topic. They’ve gotten a bad rap in recent years (for good measure!), but it’s important to distinguish between good carbs and bad carbs. Bad carbs are the simple carbohydrates that break down almost immediately into sugar when they’re consumed. They are also usually empty of nutrients, filling us up without nourishing our bides. These include foods such as white pastas and breads.
Complex carbs, on the other hand, can be extremely important to our diets. These include foods like sweet potatoes and legumes. These foods’ carb content is high, but so is their nutritional value.
Say No to Sugar
You might know that sugar can stimulate our brains’ addiction centers in a way that mimics cocaine, but did you know sugar can also make us gain weight? In fact, that’s part of the problem with many low-fat foods: they might contain limited calories, but they’re high in sugar.
The concerning thing about sugar is that it is largely composed of fructose, which is not a normal part of the metabolic process. The liver is the organ left dealing with it, and so turns it into fat. In addition, excess sugar can cause our bodies to become resistant to leptin, the hormone that tells us we’re no longer hungry. If our bodies aren’t reading leptin anymore, we keep eating, gaining more and more weight.
Popular Healthy Weight Loss Diets
Now that you know the basics components of a healthy diet let’s talk about the three most popular healthy diets today. Each has its pros and cons but understanding them will help you decide which is right for you.
Vegan or Vegetarian
Vegans eat no animal products or byproducts (including things like honey and butter) and typically see veganism as a lifestyle, not just a diet. There are different kinds of vegetarians, but most avoid some combination of red meat, chicken, fish, and dairy. While it’s possible to fill your diet with bad carbs like bread and white rice as a vegan, a carefully planned vegan or vegetarian diet can be very helpful, helping you lose weight and feel better through a variety of delicious foods and diet choices.
The ketogenic diet is an extremely low-carb system of eating designed to put your body into a fat-burning state called ketosis. Keto users often report rapid weight loss, though we should warn that it can cause headaches, exhaustion, and discomfort thanks to sugar and carb withdrawals.
This diet might also be a concern long-term if you use it as an excuse to avoid good carbs, such as fruit, legumes, and others. It’s still very important for your overall health that you’re eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables!
Paleo diet advocates seek to replicate the diets of our ancestors by eliminating processed foods, carbs such as wheat and corn, and refined sugar, as well as most dairy products. Made popular by the Whole30 trend, people on this diet report a very wide variety of benefits (weight loss among them).
Just like any other diet, paleo can be a great way to avoid carbs and sugar and ingest good fats, but you can also fill yourself up with unhealthy foods, too. The bottom line: don’t forget the plants!
Weight loss can be a long journey, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult one. Stick to the healthy weightloss plan we’ve outlined in this article and you’ll lose weight and keep it off!