Americans tend to put a lot of stock in their appearance. Around 74% of adults believe that having an unattractive smile can hurt their professional aspirations, and our obsession with youth and beauty has spawned an industry that’s predicted to be worth $863 billion by 2024. And of course, the diet, fitness, and wellness industries are thriving, too.
Many Americans believe that being overweight will inhibit their chances of success in work, in love, and in just about every other realm. Our fears might explain why people are willing to go to extremes to achieve the results they want. From minimally invasive procedures (like CoolSculpting, which starts to show results in as little as three weeks) to extreme diets, it’s clear that Americans aren’t afraid to try something new — and a bit scary — for the sake of attractiveness.
The fears we have about our own appearance and how we’re judged might also be why there’s so much misinformation about general health and weight loss floating around. If you’ve made a resolution to get fit in 2019, you won’t achieve that goal by believing myths and falling prey to schemes. While there are many things you can do to lose weight and improve your nutrition, there are other ideas that are simply full of hot air. Here are just some of them.
Snacking Late at Night Makes You Gain Weight
There’s really no evidence to support the claim that late-night snacking (or other kinds of snacking, for that matter) will make you gain weight. Of course, eating unhealthy snacks at any time of day can derail your plans to shed the pounds. And consuming certain kinds of foods late at night can lead to heartburn or indigestion. But in general, it’s a good idea to eat every two to three hours, consume nutritious foods that are high in fiber, and stick to the right portion sizes. The time of day you feel you need to eat really doesn’t matter all that much.
If You Exercise More and Eat Less, You’ll Definitely Lose Weight
The Cleveland Clinic recommends that adults partake in 30 minutes of moderate physical activity for five days each week in order to improve cardiovascular health. That’s also in line with guidelines that promote overall health and weight loss. But going to the gym and reducing your caloric intake won’t automatically make each person lose weight. Weight loss is incredibly personal and is influenced by several other factors. For example, your genetics, your environment, your medications, and your emotional state can also play a part in your ability to lose weight. Therefore, the idea that people who are overweight are simply lazy or undisciplined is misinformed. Your metabolism may make it more difficult to lose weight through “conventional” methods, which is why it’s a good idea to talk to a nutritionist or cut down on items like sodas, processed foods, and other sugar-laden products rather than counting calories consumed or burned. That said, exercise alone probably won’t help you lose weight; it needs to be complemented by a reduction in food intake.
Whether You Eat Breakfast or Not Can Impact Your Weight
This one isn’t totally clear-cut, as there may be a correlation between breakfast-eaters and lower weight ranges — but it’s not a direct causation. It’s true that people who skip breakfast do tend to weigh more than those who start their day with this meal. But that may actually be because breakfast-eaters are also more likely to make healthy decisions throughout the day. A controlled trial found that, whether they ate breakfast or not, participants showed no significant differences in weight. It’s also not true that eating breakfast boosts your metabolism. The best course of action is to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. If that means eating first thing in the morning or delaying your first meal by a few hours, so be it.
You Should Stick to Diet-Branded Foods for Weight Loss
Marketing is a tricky thing, especially in the grocery store. Many foods that are branded as being natural, healthy, or low in fat might actually be a lot worse for your body than you think. Diet soda may have zero calories, but studies show that people actually eat more when they opt for a diet beverage. Plus, they may contain ingredients that are just as bad (or worse) for your health than the original versions. Keep in mind that a lot of terms you’ll see on packaging really aren’t regulated (or if they are, the regulations are extremely loose and purposely confusing). It’s much better to eliminate processed foods altogether and stick to what’s actually natural to improve your natural health, rather than believing some claim on the label.
Losing Weight = Healthy Living
Thanks to our society’s obsession with being skinny, many people associate losing weight with healthy lifestyles. Advertisements for the beauty industry do everything they can to reinforce this message. Yes, losing weight can have health benefits, especially for obese individuals. However, what matters more than the number on the scale is whether you are eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly. Ultimately, this matters more than whether you’ve gained or lost a few pounds in a given month.
Unfortunately, extreme dieting can have a very negative effect on your health. Every year, kids miss 22 million school days to the common cold, while the typical American adult catches two to three colds every year. If you notice your immune system suffering during your weight loss efforts, talk to your doctor about your diet and overall health.
It’s true that weight loss journeys aren’t always smooth or easy. They do take dedication and may involve complete lifestyle changes. But the important thing to remember is that you don’t have to be perfect to lose weight, nor do you have to believe widespread wisdom about weight loss. Talk to your physician or a nutritionist if you want to learn more about the kind of diet you should really be eating and some tips on how to make a healthy lifestyle work for you.