Weight Loss Myths Debunked

Identify the widespread misconceptions about weight loss nutrition to make better choices on your weight loss journey.

woman-eating-happy
by
Alicia Buchter
— Signos
Health writer
Green checkmark surrounded by green circle.

Reviewed by

Alicia Buchter
Green checkmark surrounded by green circle.

Updated by

Green checkmark surrounded by green circle.

Science-based and reviewed

Published:
February 29, 2024
December 28, 2023
— Updated:

Table of Contents

It can feel overwhelming to wade through the rising tide of information related to weight loss. How do we sift through the fad diets, supplements, and quick fixes to find reliable advice? The weight-loss process looks different for everyone, and achieving your weight-loss goals results from long-term lifestyle changes. Here, you will learn about common weight loss myths and alternative steps to take you in the right direction.

{{mid-cta}}

Most Common Nutrition Myths

man-eating-froyo-with-strawberries

Myths about how to lose weight pervade, and it can be hard to identify the best advice. Though widespread, these weight-loss myths often suggest unsustainable habits and have been debunked by rigorous evidence. By knowing fact from fiction, you can make lifestyle changes based on trustworthy advice to keep yourself on track.

Carbs Make You Fat

Carbohydrates do not inherently prevent weight gain. Carbohydrates are easy for your body to break down and fast-acting sources of energy. While they can be nutritionally dense foods and are important for a balanced diet, people looking to lose weight are often advised to avoid them. This is because refined-grain carbohydrate foods like white bread, pasta, and rice on their own are quickly digested and broken down into sugar, spiking your blood sugar and leaving you feeling hungry soon after eating. 

By pairing complex carbohydrates like whole-grain bread or oats, which break down more slowly, with protein and fats, you can keep your glucose and hunger stable while adding important nutrients like fiber and iron to your diet.  

Try replacing refined carbohydrate foods like white bread and pasta with whole-wheat versions and filling the rest of your plate with plenty of protein and vegetables.

Eating Salads Every Day Will Lead to Weight Loss

We all know we would probably be better off eating a few more vegetables. Not only are they jam-packed with micronutrients, but vegetables are also low-calorie and full of fiber and water, which makes them a superpower for weight loss. Salads offer endless ways to combine vegetables with members of other food groups like fruits, nuts, meat, legumes, and cheese. However, they aren’t necessarily the key to weight loss.

Though labeling something as a salad may make it sound healthy, what often gets overlooked are the salad toppings, which can make or break your salad. To decrease your calorie intake, select low-fat dressings and toppings like a light vinaigrette or this avocado cilantro lime dressing.

An important part of staying consistent with healthy meals is enjoyment. While salads are a great veggie-filled option, they aren’t the end-all, be-all of vegetable dishes. If salads are leaving you unsatisfied, try out other ways of adding vegetables to your diet, like smoothies, soups, and wraps.  

Drinking Water Will Help You Lose Weight

Increasing your water intake at the beginning of a weight-loss journey may appear to shed pounds based on the scale, but this is likely the loss of water weight, not fat. Water weight is a portion of a body’s weight that is from only water, and this is usually lost within the first few weeks when someone begins increasing their water intake significantly. Drinking water does not result in fat loss directly. 

However, water is a crucial element for overall health. Water aids in balancing glucose levels, delivering nutrients to cells, organ functioning, brain health, hunger recognition, and sleep quality. Drinking more can help with weight loss while making you feel full and energized.

Increase your water intake by bringing a reusable water bottle with you and incorporating drinks like tea or low-sugar juice into your day. Listen to when your body might need a little extra, like after exercising or drinking coffee, to keep yourself hydrated. Optimal daily water intake varies between people depending on weight, geography, and activity levels. A good starting point is ½ your body weight in ounces.

All Calories Are Equal

A calorie is a measure of energy. Foods with the same amount of calories contain the same amount of energy. However, this does not mean that different types of food with the same number of calories affect your weight in the same way. Different types of food pass through different metabolic pathways and are broken down differently. As a result, they have different effects on hunger and the hormones that regulate body weight. For example, protein can increase the rate of your metabolism more than fat and carbohydrates.

How calories are combined with fiber and water content can also affect how many calories you consume in the long term. Fiber and water content slow down food breakdown, helping to stabilize blood sugar and keeping you full. If you are craving something sweet, opt for a piece of fiber-filled fruit instead of desserts with added sugar.

If You Don't Eat, You’ll Lose Weight

While skipping meals might result in short-term weight loss, it is unlikely to over time. A successful weight loss process is based on sustainable lifestyle changes. Not eating is not only physically unhealthy but also unenjoyable and can lead to harmful thought patterns surrounding restriction. Not eating enough can actually slow down your metabolism, making weight loss harder in the long run.1 Overeating often becomes unavoidable after a long stretch of eating too little.

Instead of resorting to severe restrictions, build healthy habits that make you feel good. Learn to listen to what your body needs to feel its best. This could look like eating when you’re hungry, knowing when to stop, and understanding the feelings behind why you fall into restrictive eating patterns

You Can Eat As Much Healthy Food As You Want

To lead a healthy lifestyle, we encourage people to eat as much healthy food as their body needs. However, there are several reasons why people end up eating more than what their body needs, such as emotional eating or stress binging. These eating habits can prevent people from reaching their weight-loss goals.

Portioning can be an important tool for ensuring that you are hitting your calorie goals for a healthy weight. To better control your portions, try downsizing your dishes, serving yourself portions instead of eating from containers, and limiting snacking. 

Becoming Vegetarian Will Cause Weight Loss

Some studies have shown that people who follow a vegetarian diet lose more weight than those who don’t.2, 3, 4 Vegetarian diets have also been shown to significantly reduce cardiovascular disease and blood pressure, as well as improve type 2 diabetes symptoms.5 However, vegetarianism is not a recipe for weight loss on its own; a diet will only result in weight loss if the calories consumed are less than those being expended. A diet high in sugar, carbohydrates, and calories could still be considered vegetarian.

If you choose to go vegetarian or shift towards a more plant-based diet, keep the fundamentals of a healthy diet in mind, like designing balanced meals, incorporating nutrient-dense foods with plenty of protein, and avoiding glucose spikes. 

Eating Healthy Is Always More Expensive

Comparing the cost of a fast-food burger to a bundle of greens at the grocery store can feel disheartening, especially when comparing the time investment needed to prepare both. Research shows that healthier diets tend to cost more than unhealthy diets.6 This cost difference contributes to unequal accessibility and exacerbates social inequalities.6

However, this doesn’t always mean the more expensive a food is, the higher quality and healthier it is. Foods like vegetables, legumes, fish, nuts, dried fruits, and grains can often be bought canned, frozen, or in bulk. Some research has shown that frozen vegetables are sometimes even higher in nutrients than fresh ones.7 Buying nonperishable foods in bulk can save money and require fewer trips to the grocery store.

Eating at home can also decrease expenses significantly. While it can take a while to cook for yourself, meal prepping and learning quick recipes can reduce the time investment. Try a protein shake for a quick breakfast with frozen vegetables and fruits or meal-prep Buddha bowl ingredients for easy dinners throughout the week.

Eating Breakfast Is Essential for Weight Loss

Some research has shown that people who eat breakfast tend to weigh less than those who skip it.8 Instead of causing weight loss, though, eating breakfast may simply be correlated with other healthy habits. In fact, more recent research has shown little connection between breakfast-eating habits and BMI.9

The best strategy is to eat intuitively. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. Your glucose levels will stay balanced, and you won't overeat when you don’t need calories. Try experimenting with some healthy breakfast recipes and notice how they affect your glucose, energy, and cravings throughout the day.

Losing Weight Is a Linear Process

Life, in general, is not a linear process; why would weight loss be any different? Our capacity to prioritize weight loss fluctuates during different periods of our lives, whether days or years. Work, family, hobbies, geographic location, and seasons affect our lifestyle. 

On top of changing life circumstances, our bodies naturally change over time. Factors like water retention and the amount of food in your system can change your weight daily. Women, in particular, can experience noticeable weight changes throughout their menstrual cycle as water weight fluctuates.10

The most important thing is a gradual decline in weight over the long term, regardless of daily or weekly fluctuations. Finding new healthy habits that work for you can result in bigger changes in the long run and stay with you through times when priorities arise.

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Learn More: </strong><a href="foods-to-avoid-for-weight-loss-d">10 Foods You Should Avoid on Your Path To Weight Loss</a>.</p>

The Facts About Weight Loss

jar-of-fruits

The best weight loss strategy will look different for everyone. That’s why prevalent myths claiming hard and fast rules about the best way to lose weight are misleading. Understanding how your body responds to different nutrition, physical activity, and lifestyle habits can help you better design a strategy that works for you. The key to healthy and sustainable weight loss is to focus on designing a balanced diet that includes fewer calories than you expend while satisfying your cravings and nutritional needs. Talk to a dietitian about what might work best for you.

  • Don't crash diet
  • Be mindful of the portions you’re consuming 
  • Cut back on refined and added sugars
  • Increase your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Eat less takeaway and snack foods.
  • Recognize and address emotional eating
  • Find healthy recipes you enjoy
  • Incorporate plenty of whole foods with protein and fiber
  • Hydrate 

Learn More About Healthy Nutrition With Signos’ Help

You can count on trustworthy guidance with Signos. Learn more about nutrition and the healthy eating habits you can rely on with Signos’ expert advice.

Learn how the Signos CGM can offer insight into how the food you eat affects your weight loss journey. Read about how Signos works to combine continuous blood glucose data—an indicator of overall health-- with personalized advice to drive real results. Along with Signos’ expert team, you’re empowered to discover the healthy habits that set you on track for sustainable weight loss. Take a quick quiz to see if Signos is right for you.

<p class="pro-tip"><strong>Also Read: </strong><a href="volumetrics-diet">Volumetrics Diet and Weight Loss: Pros & Cons</a>.</p>

Get more information about weight loss, glucose monitors, and living a healthier life
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • item 3
Get more information about weight loss, glucose monitors, and living a healthier life
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Topics discussed in this article:

References

  1. Kouda, K.; Nakamura, H.; Kohno, H.; Okuda, T.; Higashine, Y.; Hisamori, K.; Ishihara, H.; Tokunaga, R.; Sonoda, Y. Metabolic Response to Short-Term 4-Day Energy Restriction in a Controlled Study. Environ Health Prev Med 2006, 11 (2), 89–92. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02898148.
  2. Huang, R.-Y.; Huang, C.-C.; Hu, F. B.; Chavarro, J. E. Vegetarian Diets and Weight Reduction: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of General Internal Medicine 2016, 31 (1), 109–116. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-015-3390-7.
  3. Barnard, N. D.; Levin, S. M.; Yokoyama, Y. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Changes in Body Weight in Clinical Trials of Vegetarian Diets. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2015, 115 (6), 954–969. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2014.11.016.
  4. Rosell, M.; Appleby, P.; Spencer, E.; Key, T. Weight Gain over 5 Years in 21 966 Meat-Eating, Fish-Eating, Vegetarian, and Vegan Men and Women in EPIC-Oxford. International Journal of Obesity 2006, 30 (9), 1389–1396. https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0803305.
  5. Kahleova, H.; Levin, S.; Barnard, N. D. Vegetarian Dietary Patterns and Cardiovascular Disease. Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases 2018, 61 (1), 54–61. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pcad.2018.05.002.
  6. Darmon, N.; Drewnowski, A. Contribution of Food Prices and Diet Cost to Socioeconomic Disparities in Diet Quality and Health: A Systematic Review and Analysis. Nutrition Reviews 2015, 73 (10), 643–660. https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuv027.
  7. Bouzari, A.; Holstege, D.; Barrett, D. M. Vitamin Retention in Eight Fruits and Vegetables: A Comparison of Refrigerated and Frozen Storage. J Agric Food Chem 2015, 63 (3), 957–962. https://doi.org/10.1021/jf5058793.
  8. Horikawa, C.; Kodama, S.; Yachi, Y.; Heianza, Y.; Hirasawa, R.; Ibe, Y.; Saito, K.; Shimano, H.; Yamada, N.; Sone, H. Skipping Breakfast and Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity in Asian and Pacific Regions: A Meta-Analysis. Preventive Medicine 2011, 53 (4), 260–267. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ypmed.2011.08.030.
  9. Wicherski, J.; Schlesinger, S.; Fischer, F. Association between Breakfast Skipping and Body Weight-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Longitudinal Studies. Nutrients 2021, 13 (1). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13010272.
  10. White, C. P.; Hitchcock, C. L.; Vigna, Y. M.; Prior, J. C. Fluid Retention over the Menstrual Cycle: 1-Year Data from the Prospective Ovulation Cohort. Obstet Gynecol Int2011, 2011, 138451. https://doi.org/10.1155/2011/138451.

About the author

Alicia Buchter is a content writer for Signos and earned her degree in Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Molecular Biology from Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA.

View Author Bio

Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

Interested in learning more about metabolic health and weight management?

Try Signos.