There’s a lot of weight loss advice out there. Unfortunately, not all of it’s good advice for healthy, substantial weight loss. Modern diet culture has led many people astray on their weight loss journey. For example, diets like the keto diet and juice cleanse aren’t for everybody and can actually cause detrimental effects on your overall health and your ability to lose weight and keep it off. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of some of the biggest weight loss tips that are actually misconceptions so you can keep your body as healthy as possible while you shed pounds.
To weed out the bad advice, we spoke with Krutika Nanavati, a registered dietitian, nutritionist, and medical advisor at Clinicspots, and Hannah Shine, a certified personal trainer and fitness coach at Hourglass Waist. They agree that the worst weight loss tips are overexercising, following fad diets, and eliminating entire food groups (like carbs!). Learn more about the dangers of each of these tips below!
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While we know that exercise is important for maintaining an overall healthy body and for sustainable weight loss, Nanavati warns that it's possible to overdo it with workouts. "The problem with extreme exercise is that it burns calories quickly and can cause the body to go into a 'starvation' mode. While it may appear to provide short-term results, extreme exercise does not work in achieving lasting weight loss," she says. Cortisol levels in the body increase with extreme exercise and this hormone has been linked to increased fat storage." And, when cortisol levels remain too high for a prolonged time, Nanavati warns that it can lead to a decreased metabolism and trouble controlling food cravings. Yikes!
One hour of moderate-intensity exercise every day is incredibly beneficial not only for your weight loss journey but also for your overall health. Specifically, Nanavati recommends a combination of aerobic exercise, strength training, resistance workouts, and balance exercises.
"Aerobic exercise increases your heart rate and breathing, which helps burn calories and fat more efficiently. These exercises include walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, dancing, and playing sports. Strength training is also important for weight loss, as it helps you build muscle mass, which increases your metabolism," she explains. "Resistance exercises such as push-ups and squats can help increase your endurance and strength. Balance exercises are important for overall fitness and health."
2. Following Fad Diets
Similarly, Nanavati and Shine advise against following fad diets because while they may seem like a quick way to lose weight, they are neither sustainable nor healthy. "These types of diets often require the elimination of entire food groups, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies and health problems," Nanavati warns. "The main reason for this is that fad diets tend to be overly restrictive or require drastic changes to a person's lifestyle and eating habits. Most fad diets are unable to provide sustainable long-term results, making it difficult to stick with them over time."
Shine says that crash, fad diets that promise "quick results" usually require unhealthy calorie restriction and cutting out entire food groups, like carbs. "While this may lead to initial weight loss, it's not sustainable or healthy in the long term. It can also slow down your metabolism and make it harder to lose weight in the future," she notes.
So, what diets should you follow instead? Nanavati suggests a diet high in nutrients and low in calories. "Weight loss doesn't come from a particular diet plan. All it takes is to consume nutrient-dense but low-calorie food along with measuring the right serving sizes," she says. "Intermittent fasting, a [Mediterranean-style] diet would be some healthy and effective ways to adopt not only for losing weight but for improving overall health." Just remember that diets are different for everyone so be sure to check with a dietitian or a medical professional before starting.
3. Eliminating Entire Food Groups
Like fad diets, Shine and Nanavati do not recommend eliminating an entire food group to lose weight. Not only is this not sustainable for shedding pounds, but certain food groups are essential for overall health. "Eliminating entire food groups, such as carbohydrates or fats, can lead to nutrient deficiencies and an unbalanced diet," Shine says. "Our bodies need a variety of nutrients from different food groups to function properly."
And, food groups like proteins, carbs, and fats are some of the most misunderstood food groups that are often unfairly eliminated from fad diets. Nanavati especially warns against removing carbs from your diet. "These are one of our body's preferred energy sources that are used to fuel the body all throughout the day. So it's important to get the right amount of carbs and the right type. There is no point in eliminating them entirely. But what's important is to only eliminate the unnecessary carbs," Nanavati explains. "Really good carbs like the ones we find in sprouted quinoa or in brown rice, oatmeal, or sweet potatoes are healthy. Roughly around 35% to 45 percent of our calories from carbohydrates are required, these numbers are flexible depending on your body type."
But, as you probably know, not all carbs are equal. Carbs like white potatoes don't provide the same nutrients as sweet potatoes. So, eating the right type of carbs can help you stay healthy and lose weight. "The right carbs stabilize blood-sugar levels. Fiber is one key element of complex carbs that makes them so beneficial for weight loss. Fiber helps you feel fuller longer and slows down digestion, which helps control blood sugar levels," Nanavati continues. "By keeping your blood sugar stable, fiber can help prevent unhealthy cravings and overeating. Fiber helps reduce cholesterol levels and promotes healthy digestion—both of which are important factors in successful weight loss. Complex carbs are also nutrient-rich, providing a range of essential vitamins and minerals that support healthy weight loss." If you're curious about healthy carbs, check out our list of the best carbs to eat and still lose weight.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to weight loss, it's important to maintain a balanced, nutrient-dense diet that includes a variety of foods from all food groups, incorporate regular exercise into your routine, and set achievable goals for your journey. And, Shine wants to remind you to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water, get enough sleep to "help regulate hormones that control appetite and metabolism," and seek support from a qualified professional (like a personal trainer, registered dietitian, or medical professional!). That way they can help you develop a personalized plan for healthy weight loss. Sounds like a plan!