It seems almost every person has their own ‘little secret’ when it comes to dropping the pounds. Even I’ve been duped into believing some weight loss tricks like ‘carbs are the enemy’ and ‘eating late will surely make me fat.’
It’s important to have the facts straight when we’re approaching a healthy lifestyle, and especially weight loss, or else we’ll build false expectations for the results we’ll experience and ultimately become discouraged when they fail us.
Today Show diet and nutrition editor, Madelyn Fernstrom, recently appeared on the show to call fact or fiction on some of the common weight loss myths our society believes – starting with one very hot topic.
1. Eating spicy foods promotes weight loss: Fernstrom says this is a myth. Eating spicy foods doesn’t make a dent in our weight loss. Even though it can make our heart pound and cause us to sweat, it’s not actually burning a noticeable amount of calories, meaning it doesn’t help us lose weight. One nugget of truth in this myth, however, is that spicy foods may help us eat less because they’re more satisfying, or because they’re too hot to eat large quantities of.
2. Eating dairy foods can promote weight loss: True. But according to Fernstrom, in order for this to actually work you have to be in a calorie-controlled diet to begin with. To see the weight loss results dairy can provide, replace some of the foods you eat now with no- or low-fat dairy instead of adding dairy in as extra calories.
3.Exercise boosts your metabolism for a few hours afterwards: Myth. Although it’s true that exercise can make us hungrier, Fernstrom argues that it’s only intense exercise that affords us more calories. If you’re only doing light activities like power walking or running a mile or two, you con’t need to compensate with extra calories afterwards unless you’re truly hungry.
4.Using smaller sized plates promotes weight loss: True. Fernstrom says a lot of studies have shown that if food is in front of you and it tastes good, you’re going to eat it. And one of the reasons we’re tempted to eat too much food today is that our plates are so big. But if we swap those for smaller, salad-sized plates, we’re far less likely to go overboard when we sit down to dine.
5. Eating past 7p.m. will make you gain weight. Fernstrom says this is the biggest myth out there. If you go to bed at midnight or 1a.m., and eat dinner at 6p.m., it’s very likely that you’re going to be become hungry later in the evening. And in that case, it’s OK to eat a little something to tide you over ’til morning since we’re burning calories 24 hours a day. But Fernstrom recommends keeping the meal to around 200-300 calories, and avoiding the ‘steak and potato’ type of indulgences.
With the help of stories like this, we can all grow more confident in our ability to decipher fact from fiction when it comes to weight loss secrets. I’m especially happy about the last one since I adore my late-night snack of cereal and milk before I go to bed. I love knowing I can enjoy it without worrying it’s going to show up on my backside tomorrow. What a relief!
April 13th, 2012