Wednesday, May 16, 2012

You may encounter more weight-loss misinformation floating around than reliable advice. If you’re new to the weight-loss game — and it is something of a game — you’re going to hear and read all types of tips and advice on how to do it, what foods to eat and not eat, and what works and what doesn’t. Listen selectively! Listen only to true experts, including seasoned dieters who’ve been there, tried that, and can tell you the truth about fad diets and other weight-loss gimmicks. Remember that in the diet industry, everyone has something to sell, so spend your money wisely!

The following sections separate dieting myths from truths and give you tips on how to start living your low-calorie lifestyle.

Deciphering weight-loss fact and fiction
Weight-loss myths abound and this section for “newbies” is a good place to dispel as many of them as possible. Experienced dieters have heard these myths before, though some of you old-timers who are reading this info may appreciate the reminders.
Here are six popular diet myths, debunked:

  • Eating in between meals makes you fat. The truth is, snacking can actually help you lose weight. The purpose of a snack is to prevent you from getting so hungry that you overeat at your next meal. (For more about healthy snacking, see Chapter 15.)
  • You must stick to a strict number of calories to lose weight. In fact, you can lose weight with a range of calories (for more info, check out Chapter 3). Also, you’ll be more successful at weight loss if you give in and cheat a little (with an emphasis on “little”) once in while, especially if you feel hungry, than if you allow yourself to get too hungry and end up binge eating.
  • Eating certain specific foods helps you burn calories. Have you ever heard that you can lose weight by eating only cabbage soup? How about the grapefruit diet? Has anyone ever told you that it takes more calories to digest an apple than the apple itself contains? If you haven’t heard any of these stories yet, you will. Unfortunately, none of them are true. Sure, digesting your food does take some energy, and it involves burning calories, but there’s no such thing as a “digestion diet.” No matter what type of food you eat, the digestion process could never use up enough calories to make any difference in your weight.
  • Eating late at night causes you to gain more weight than eating during the day. Not true. The total amount and type of food you eat is what matters, not when you eat it. Many people often eat after dinner as a form of entertainment or a way to alleviate boredom, not to satisfy hunger, so the food choices tend to be higher calorie snack foods. If food is a form of entertainment for you, the more you feel bored, the more you’ll eat. (Chapter 9 talks more about why people eat when they’re not really hungry and how to battle this problem.)
  • Reduced-fat and fat-free foods can help you lose weight. Certain naturally fat-free foods, such as vegetables and fruits, can help you lose weight because you can fill up on larger quantities of these foods for fewer calories than if you were to choose food higher in fat. Fat-free convenience food products, however, are another story. Many of these foods contain so much added sugar or other ingredients that they contribute just as many, if not more, calories to your diet.
  • Using sugar substitutes helps you lose weight. As I write, a new wave of diet products is pushing its way onto supermarket shelves. These products all contain the most recently approved sugar substitute that slashes their calories in half. The sudden appearance of these products coincides with a rising trend of eliminating sugar from the diet to lose weight and the release of new dietary guidelines from government health experts, advising overweight people to cut calories to lose weight. How convenient for food manufacturers!

Over the years, I’ve seen just about every weight-loss trend and gimmick come and go and come back again. You may not have seen it all yet, but you have access to the same facts I do and you can probably put two and two together as well as I can. Check out these two facts:

  1. On the whole, Americans have gotten fatter and fatter over the past 100 years.
  2. Sugar substitutes, also known as artificial sweeteners and low-calorie sweeteners, have been around for more than 125 years.

Put two and two together and the answer is that sugar substitutes are not the answer to weight control! (Check out Chapter 5 for more information on sugar substitutes.)

Using sugar substitutes is a matter of personal choice. If you’re comfortable with the products and you want to use them in your low-calorie plan, it’s entirely up to you. The problem with sugar substitutes is that they may lead you to believe you can eat more food because you’re not getting as many calories from sugar. Sugar substitutes don’t teach you how to eat less food overall, and that’s why, in the bigger picture, they don’t work as a weight-loss tool.

Starting from scratch
If this diet is your first attempt at losing weight, then you’re in luck. Although it’s never too late to shape up, doing so is much easier if you aren’t already frustrated by years of failed attempts.

Keep an open mind when you set out to lose weight. Initially, you have a big job ahead of you. Sure, you can skip all the reading, journaling, calculating, and planning suggested in Chapters 3, 4, and 5 and just head straight for the actual diet plans in Chapter 6. But chances are, if you do that, you’ll be back to this chapter in no time, trying to figure out what went wrong.

The more research you do upfront to understand how you arrived in your state of being overweight and to develop a personal plan for yourself to lose weight, the more successful you’ll be in the long run. This first diet may be your last if you approach it somewhat cautiously, rather than diving in head-first. Yes, you want to feel confident, but you also need to know what you’re doing in advance. Almost every success story starts with a well thought-out plan, and every chapter in this book counts as part of a bigger plan to help you lose weight once and for all.

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