Healthy weight loss is achieved by following a healthy diet, increasing your level of physical activity, and adopting good lifestyle habits. Period. But some lack the motivation or patience to follow healthy techniques to lose weight. Those desperately looking to get in shape will resort to any ‘quick’ method available. They may not realize that these methods can put their overall health at risk.
Here are the common myths or wrong weight loss methods that should be avoided. Make sure you do not make these mistakes when trying to lose weight.
Relying on Packaged ‘Diet’ Food
Nowadays, a lot of prepackaged diet meals are available in the market (Pure Package, Diet to Go). Here, you get a pre-designed packed box of breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner every day. As these foods contain less amounts of calories, they are claimed to be effective. However, what people are unaware of is that these foods contain preservatives, sugar, and other additives. Secondly, drastically cutting down on calories can slow down your metabolism. Products like diet soda contains artificial sweeteners and caffeine, which does more harm to the body than good. Substituting a balanced and nutritious meal with anything marked ‘diet’ or ‘fat-free’ food is actually not healthy. Consuming foods with high sugar can lead to diabetes and kidney damage, whereas, consuming foods with high amounts of sodium can lead to hypertension. Packaged or anything coming in a box is not healthy. It may be convenient, but the additives in these foods will prevent you from losing weight, and is not healthy either.
Eating Fat-Free Food
What most of us are unaware about is that fat-free does not necessarily mean low in calories. It’s true that consuming less fats can help you get in shape sooner, but packaged ‘fat-free’ foods are loaded with carbohydrates and sugar, and hence, are high in calories. Secondly, low fat foods like dried fruits, nuts, beans, dairy, packaged yogurt, salad dressings, pretzels, etc., contain high amounts of calories. For example, fruit juices (fresh as well as packaged ones) contain no fat, but have high calories. Therefore, consuming more than 1 glass of fruit juice will not help in warding off excess weight, due to the high caloric intake.
Relying on a Liquid Diet
To rely only on fruit and vegetable juice to lose weight is a wrong method, for two reasons. Firstly, by substituting your meal with only juice, you decrease the calorie intake drastically. It will help lose weight, but it can cause health problems like lack of energy, nutritional deficiency, headaches, stomach disorders, etc. We require carbohydrates and proteins to gain energy. Secondly, if you consume fruit or vegetable juices, but do not cut down on their portion sizes, you may still gain weight because of the high calorie content (read the aforementioned ‘Eating Fat-Free Food’). Watching your portions, following a balanced diet, and exercising to burn off excess calories, is the best way to be healthy and fit.
Not Cutting Down on Food Intake
Exercise plays an important role in maintaining healthy weight. It is true that exercise helps burn extra calories, but it will probably not help you much if you do not take care of your diet by reducing your calorie intake. If you believe you can exercise every day and eat to your heart’s content, you are mistaken. For healthy weight loss, you need to burn more calories than you consume. So, you need to limit the intake of food, else, the amount of calories consumed will exceed those burnt off. Now, those sweating out for hours together at the gym, did you know that extreme exercising is also linked to premature aging?
Using Sauna Suits or Rubber Belts
You may come across many products that claim to promote quick weight loss, like rubber belts, sauna suits, etc. If you wish to get rid of excess weight, you need to burn off fat. Sauna does not help burn fat, it just helps in losing water weight. You will regain weight as soon as you replenish your lost fluids by drinking water. Sauna suits induce excessive sweating, which can have harmful side effects like severe dehydration, loss of electrolytes, heatstroke, etc. Using a sauna suit is not a safe way to lose weight.
Having Time-Based Meal Plans
A diet that suggests you to follow a rigid meal plan is not a practical approach to weight loss. In the present day lifestyle, it is impossible to follow a rigid time-based meal plan, unless, of course, you are waited on hand and foot. If your diet plan says not to have meals after 6pm, it may not be possible every day, as you are working, have chores to fulfill, etc. Having specific set of foods at specific times is impractical and difficult. In fact, eating healthy snacks when hungry can boost your metabolism. Remember, eating when hungry, and only so much as to suppress your hunger, is the correct way to go.
Believing Skinny is Fit
Weight loss is usually recommended to those who are overweight or have a BMI higher than normal. However, once you get rid of the unwanted fat, you should aim to maintain that, and stop the unwanted fat from returning. Remember, being skinny does not mean you are fit or healthy. In most of the cases, being skinny is associated with fasting and starving, which leads to health problems like nutritional deficiency, headaches, stomach disorders, dehydration, etc. A skinny person can be as unhealthy as an overweight person due to wrong food and lifestyle habits. Compromising on your food and following crazy diets can be harmful. Being underweight takes a toll on your overall health, and is commonly associated with malnutrition, weak immune system, disorders of the skin, hair, stomach, etc.
As mentioned above, it is a myth that only extensive exercising or strength training in the gym helps lose weight. Although there is no doubt that these exercises are effective, there is no denying the fact that other exercise types like aerobic exercises, household chores (lawn mowing, washing the car, scrubbing), or other daily physical activities like climbing the stairs, are also equally effective. Walking, running, jogging, swimming, cycling, etc. (along with good food habits), help in losing and maintaining proper body weight. A regular exercise regime combined with a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle habits is the ideal way to get in shape.
Cutting down on fatty and high-calorie foods is recommended in every weight loss plan. But some take it to another level, forget the word ‘wrong’ foods, and go on a near-death starvation diet. Our body needs food to keep going, to gain energy, and also to perform different functions in the body. Starvation deprives the body of its fuel. Along with fat loss, starvation also causes muscle loss. Secondly, as your body starts conserving energy, the metabolism slows down drastically, and fewer calories are burnt. This means, even when you switch to a healthy diet later on, you will have trouble burning calories. Did you know that the effects of starvation can take nearly a year to reverse completely?
Having Diet Pills/Drugs
Diet pills and drugs, like appetite suppressants, magic pills, laxatives, purgatives, etc., are used by some dieters to get in shape quickly. Many manufacturers claim weight loss with these pills, sans diet or exercise. Although this may appear very convenient and easy, it is not safe. Many diet pills contain large amounts of caffeine or appetite suppressants that will never make you feel hungry. There are no immediate effects of these diet pills, except a few side effects like anxiety, headaches, fatigue, lethargy, etc. But these pills are very addictive, and there are chances of developing a tolerance for the same. You will resume the lost weight after stopping the pills, if you do not follow a proper diet and exercise routine.
Sometimes, people adopt extreme weight loss methods like starvation or the tapeworm pills method mentioned above. It is not only dangerous but can have serious long-term health hazards. If you come across any bizzare or unconventional diet or weight loss tips, make sure you have detailed information about all its pros and cons, and after effects. If in doubt, it is always recommended to consult a doctor or a certified nutritionist before commencing any weight loss routine.
It is possible to lose weight with healthy methods. Following are the things you can do to achieve an ideal weight and maintain it.
What To Do
- Follow healthy food habits.
- Consult a nutritionist and understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy food.
- Stop binging and emotional eating.
- Do not skip meals. But, watch your portions.
- Exercise regularly for 20-30 minutes every day.
- Be physically active.
- Follow a practical weight loss plan.
- Continue maintaining a healthy lifestyle even after you lose weight.
- Try to reduce stress.
- Stay focused and motivated.
Remember a simple principle – as excess weight is not gained overnight, it cannot be lost in a short time either. Give yourself some time. Although healthy methods may take a bit longer to work, they are more effective, and definitely beneficial in the long term.