When it comes to weight loss, there is far too much noise and confusion about what works and what doesn’t. Add to that the myths that surround the subject and we have a pretty heady concoction of information that is not only misleading but can be bad for your health. Here are a few prevalent myths followed by some practical advice to replace them.
1. Having two glasses of water before breakfast, lunch and dinner will help you lose weight
Many dieticians recommend people to take this up as a challenge on Facebook and other social media, and are very proud when people lose weight after following it. But, this is a poor practice for more than one reason. Firstly, drinking water just before meal time may only suppress your appetite for a short time and you will end up with cravings later. Also, filling your stomach with water dilutes your stomach acids, which are key to nutrient absorption and protein synthesis in the body. Even if you are eating a healthy diet, lack of sufficient stomach acid can render all of it useless. You are not only what you eat, but also what your body absorbs. That’s why how and when you eat it is as important as what you eat.
TIP: Avoid having water at least 20-25 minutes before and after meals. Having water immediately after meals may make you feel bloated. During meals you can have a few sips of water if required.
2. Checking your weight on the weighing scale
I used to once weigh myself every 15 days, till I realised the folly of doing that and stopped. The weighing scale has nothing to do with how healthy you are; your health is reflected by several parameters and not on the number you see on the scale.
The better signs of a healthy body are: how good you feel, how much energetic you have, and what kind of diseases [if any] are you suffering from. When you are successful in taking care of your body and mind, the by-product is optimum weight, high energy and an overall good feeling.
TIP: If you want to lose weight, put aside the weighing scale and buy clothes that you want to fit into. Weight loss [or gain] is not always apparent on the scale. You may lose fat and gain muscle, which will make you look leaner but may not show on the scale.
3. Eating less to lose weight
Eating less of the wrong foods is good but eating less of everything is not. Our body needs certain number of calories to carry out its essential functions of pumping and supplying blood, digestion, respiration etc.
The recent fad of having meal replacers to reduce calorie intake and lose weight is not healthy solution and is not in the interest of your health in the long-term. These meal replacers also have a lot of sugar or artificial sweeteners, which can lead to other problems like insulin resistance, hormonal imbalance and nerve problems.
TIP: Portion control is the key. Eat a mix of different foods so your body gets the nutrients from them all. Avoid or restrict calories from packaged and processed foods.
4. A fat free diet is the best
Fats form an important part of our body. They not only protect our vital organs, but are also important for absorption of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E & K. However, it is important to have the right kind of fats.
Fats in the form of nuts, seeds, dry fruits, ghee, avocados and filtered or cold pressed oils are considered healthy fats, as opposed to fats from refined oils, trans fats and hydrogenated vegetables oils, which are generally present in packaged foods.
Lack of healthy fats in the body leads to insufficient absorption of fat soluble vitamins which, in turn, can cause bone issues.
TIP: Add nuts and seeds to your salads and veggies; you can also have them as a snack.
5. No carb diet is the quickest way to weight loss
Whenever someone is keen on a no-carb diet, I ask them, “Then what will you eat?”; they name 4-5 foods that they will eat in repetition. Not only is that boring because of its monotony, but also is also not a healthy practice.
It is necessary to understand that every body is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all weight loss solution that works for everyone. Before following any kind of diet, it is necessary to consult a nutritionist & a dietician to know your body’s unique needs.
To me, a zero-carb diet seems like an unnatural way to eat. Certainly, the simple or “junk” carbs like sugar, cakes, ice-creams, pizzas etc have no nutritional value and hence are called empty calories; avoid them totally. But there are healthy carbs too, which contains a world of good nutrients.
TIP: Rather than totally eliminating carbs, go on a “right carb” diet. Munch on fruits and vegetables which healthy carbs—they contain complex carbohydrates, fibre and proteins too. That way your diet will be interesting and healthy too.
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