Top 3 Worst Weight Loss Myths (2021)

Eliminate food groups. Don’t eat after 7 pm. You should see immediate results. These are just some of MANY weight loss myths found in magazines, commercials, and even on social media. These myths are inaccurate, unsustainable, and potentially harmful to your health. But why? Let’s unpack the top three weight loss myths and find out the truth behind them.

Myth #1: You Should Be Able to See Weight Loss Results Fast

Losing weight is not a fast process. Expecting to see visible results or changes in weight within a few days and even weeks is not practical. Nor is it sustainable or healthy. Studies have shown that losing a significant amount of weight too fast is damaging to your health and increases susceptibility to health risks. In an article by Radhika V. Seimon et al., a study was mentioned where scientists discovered the dangers associated with fast weight loss. Researchers found that “[t]he observed reticence of healthcare professionals to prescribe dietary obesity treatments that induce fast weight loss … suggests an underlying assumption that fast weight loss is less advisable than slow weight loss. Potential concerns about the safety of fast weight loss—notably for musculoskeletal integrity but also for eating disorder behaviors—may contribute to the low utilization of fast weight loss by healthcare professionals” (1). According to this article, Healthy and Sustainable Weight Loss involves consistency, commitment, time, and patience.

Myth #2: You Have to Restrict Foods and Skip Meals to Lose Weight

Restricting yourself too much when trying to lose weight is very counterintuitive, as not eating the foods you want results in stronger cravings for those foods. Researchers Helena Dória Ribeirode, Andrade Previato, and Jorge Herman Behrens conducted an experiment where they studied teenagers’ cravings and their relationship with food based on their eating habits and meal intake. They found that “[t]he craving for sweets and using food as a reward scores were significantly higher among individuals with inadequate daily intake of sweets” (2). Additionally, they discussed another experiment where researchers studied the effects of breakfast intake on food cravings, ultimately linking breakfast intake to reduced food cravings in girls. Thus, they concluded that “the association between cravings for sweets and meal skipping in the present study may be due to hormonal and physiological changes of prolonged fasting, which increases the desire for and intake of sweets in the following meals during the day” (2). These studies show that restriction just leads to obsessiveness over food and more cravings, ultimately resulting in increased consumption. Rather than eliminating foods that you enjoy, do your best to eat them in moderation. Additionally, instead of skipping meals, eat nourishing and substantial meals throughout the day. These methods will allow you to lose weight more practically and efficiently.

Myth #3: Fats Make You Gain Weight

There is no need to eliminate a food group when trying to lose weight. Each food group or macronutrient serves a purpose and supplies you with different minerals and nutrients. Fats are often the first to go as many believe they cause weight gain. Not only is this not sustainable, but it’s also a myth as healthy fats have shown to aid in weight loss. In a study by A  Austel et al., researchers compared the effects of a Mediterranean diet (high in fats from walnuts and Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)) with a normal diet on weight. Results of the experiment showed that the Mediterranean diet “was effective for weight management in a self-help setting for overweight and grade 1 obese subjects” (3) and that “fat modification through canola oil, walnuts and walnut oil improved blood lipids even at 12 months” (3). Additionally, participants following the Mediterranean diet showed more significant results in reduced weight and waist circumference than those following a normal diet. This study indicates that Fats Play An Essential Role In Weight Loss. If you’re trying to lose weight, rather than focusing on cutting out fats, try incorporating healthy options like extra virgin olive oil, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds into your diet!

The Bottom Line

To manage and lose weight long-term, stick to a balanced diet, eat foods that you enjoy, and include all food groups. If you need 1:1 support, please work with a Registered Dietitian. They specialize in health and nutrition and are the most reliable people to get advice about managing weight. Good luck with your weight loss journey!

Written By Cameron Kao

Reviewed by Kelly Powers, MA, RDN, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who takes a holistic approach to nutrition and health. Kelly is a recipe developer with a food blog highlighting whole foods, simple recipes, and her life in San Francisco. She’s the creator of 52 Weeks, a weekly meal plan program that helps users get back in the kitchen and feed themselves well. Kelly is also a co-founder of Olivaio.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are Personal Trainers and Nutritionists reliable sources for weight loss advice?
A: Personal Trainers and Nutritionists may have only a few hours or possibly no time studying nutrition. Seek the support of a Registered Dietitian. They have 4+ years of education in nutrition and dietetics. If you seek advice on managing weight or losing weight, a Registered Dietitian should be the first person to go to.

Q: How long should it take to see weight loss results visibly?
A: If you are trying to lose weight, aim to lose a maximum of 1 to 2 pounds per week. Losing any more than 2 pounds can be damaging to your health.

Q: How do I incorporate more fats into my diet?
A: Many different foods provide healthy fats. Some examples are nuts, nut butter, avocado, and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). Incorporate these foods into your cooking or enjoy them as snacks. Check out these Recipes that incorporate extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) to get started!