Dieters, Beware: 5 Myths That Can Halt Weight Loss

Myth: Eating small portions, or “grazing,” throughout the day will help increase metabolism.

Modifying your food intake in this way won’t increase your metabolism. Though some people might find that eating smaller, frequent meals and snacks helps to control their appetite, making it easier to lose weight, others may experience the opposite effect.

“Some people tend to graze on high-fat, high-calorie foods, which would actually make them gain weight,” said Sara Stanner, a registered public health nutritionist and a member of the British Nutrition Foundation.

But “if you are sitting down for a meal, you are more likely to have lower energy foods such as vegetables sides and salads,” Stanner said. “In general, studies show that if you are trying to lose weight, the best approach is three planned meals and a couple of healthy snacks.”

Myth: Low-fat or fat-free food will have significantly fewer calories.

Just because a food is labeled as being low in fat does not necessarily mean it’s low in calories — because fat can be replaced by other nutrients that provide calories, such as protein, starch and sugar.

For example, according to a food guide published by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a small, low-fat blueberry muffin has 131 calories, while a regular blueberry muffin of the same size has 138 calories.

Eating low-fat foods will not automatically lead to weight loss, Stanner told MyHealthNewsDaily. This is especially true if you end up eating larger portions of low-fat foods.

Myth: Eating late in the evening will cause you to gain weight.

It’s not true that food consumed later in the evening will just sit there, unused, and automatically get converted into fat.

“You will gain weight if your total daily energy intake exceeds your energy expenditure, regardless of the timing of consuming these calories,” Stanner said. “Eating late at night, however, especially large meals, can cause digestive problems and that’s why it’s not recommended.”

Myth: A sports drink that is high in vitamins and nutrients is a healthier alternative to soda.

It’s easy to think of sports drinks as the healthy alternative at the vending machine, but that’s not always true. For example, a bottle of VitaminWater contains 13 grams of sugar and 50 calories per serving. However, each bottle contains 2.5 servings, so if you chug the whole bottle after a workout, you’ve taken in 125 calories. By comparison, one can of regular Coca-Cola has 140 calories.

“Sports drinks may contain a good supply of vitamins and minerals, but it can still be high in sugar and calories,” Stanner said. “And some of the added vitamins and minerals may also not be required if you are already eating a healthy diet.”

Myth: A big breakfast will keep you from eating too much later in the day.

It’s a bad idea to skip breakfast because you’re more likely to reach for extra morning snacks — but this doesn’t mean a big breakfast is good idea either. A big breakfast does not keep you from being hungrier later in the day. Worse yet, it can pile on too much extra calories.

A German study of 280 obese and 100 normal-weight people, published this month in the Nutrition Journal, found that eating a big breakfast can tack on an extra 400 calories. Yet we typically don’t balance out this morning calorie infusion by eating less later —breakfast calories had little or no effect on the number of calories consumed during the rest of the day, the researchers found.

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