Like that you need to lose weight in the first place.
When it comes to weight loss, there's no shortage of advice out there on how to do it or why you should want to do it.
But what there isn't really enough of is critical analysis of those tips and tricks — like, are they physically or emotionally healthy things to do (let alone do they even work)? There's also not much unpacking of the idea that we should all always want to lose weight in the first place.
So BuzzFeed Health reached out to some of our favorite registered dietitians, personal trainers, and health coaches and asked them to share a widely-held misconception about weight loss they wish they could make go away forever.
Here's what they said:
Diana Pietrzyk / Via giphy.com
That you even need to lose weight in the first place.
"I’ve known plenty of clients over the years who are perpetually 'five pounds over their goal weight.' Even as they get closer to their arbitrary ideal, the goal changes. It’s like weight loss purgatory — a state in which their body is a constant disappointment. If we lived in a world in which body-shaming and fat-shaming didn’t exist, what would our relationship to weight loss look like? I know we’re not there on a macro scale, but can we fight to create that world for ourselves? Yes. We can. And I’d consider it an extremely important battle."
@jennifer_rollin / Via instagram.com
That certain foods burn fat or speed up your metabolism.
"I can't stand when even reputable media proclaims that we should be eating these foods to 'burn fat' and 'stoke our metabolism.' This is the best example of how actual science gets twisted and blown completely out of proportion.
Some foods — like ice-cold water or chili peppers — tend to increase the metabolic rate. However, that's not the end of the story. The amount they increase your metabolism by is tiny — I mean five calories or so — and, it's transient, so the effect wears off fairly quickly once you're consumed the food. Plus, how many chili peppers are you even going to eat?
Any time you see a nutrition headline, you'll want to consider the source, or even better, read the actual research behind it."
—Abby Langer, RD, Abby Langer Nutrition
@damnthediets / Via instagram.com
That diets actually work tbh.
"I think the biggest myth about weight loss is that weight loss diets actually work. While they might work in the short run, they actually don't work to sustain weight loss in the long run. This is because most weight loss diets are not balanced, and cut out entire food groups (e.g. low carb/no carb), which is not realistic for people to adopt for the rest of their life. As soon as a person ends the diet, they will gain the weight back. In addition to that, cutting out entire food groups isn't healthy in the long run!"
—Anjali Shah, board certified health coach and founder of The Picky Eater
"The fact of the matter is that 95% of people regain weight over a five-year period. We need to stop prescribing an intervention that has no evidence of being sustainable."
@buffalodietitian / Via instagram.com
That everyone should go low-carb.
"The vast majority of people lose weight best on a diet that is NOT low in carbohydrates. Yep, I have seen the facts with my own eyes, and have tested this out in 30 clients of my own. In my experience, people lose weight best on a diet that is at least 45% carbohydrates. In my personal coaching practice I have witnessed clients double their carb intake and finally start losing weight."
@fat2fitwcrossfit / Via instagram.com
That you have to exercise a lot and go super hard all the time.
"People want results yesterday so they default to taking things to the extreme and doing things that are not sustainable because they want quick and immediate results. But because they are extreme, they're not sustainable, nor are they easy to fit into a normal life without significant compromise.
For example, bootcamp before work and boxing after work six times a week is probably more than is appropriate for most people's bodies. Plus, it doesn't fit your schedule.
People tend to do the extreme for a while, maybe see some results but not massive ones and beat their body up in the process, so they come to the conclusion that exercise isn't worth it. It is about small changes over time — that is what your body needs and works well with."
Fox / Via instagram.com
That there's a "right" or "best" or "perfect" diet and you just have to find it.
"It's magical thinking — that if you figure out the ideal combination of nutrients, or foods/'superfoods,' or method of eating, then somehow everything will change and that you will be completely transformed. That you will never feel hungry. You'll always have energy. You'll heal your hurts. Cure cancer. Avoid death. Basically avoid reality in all its forms.
Instead, I suggest clients take a grown-up approach to health and fitness, one that recognizes complexity and reality. Our bodies and lives are complicated things.
To be most effective at changing, we need to be calm, thoughtful, and mature, to accept that there's no perfection, nor should we try for it. All we can do is try to take simple, small steps towards our goals, and repeat those steps every day."
—Krista Scott-Dixon, director of education, Precision Nutrition
That if exercise doesn't feel impossible and tedious, it's probably not effective.
"Look into attending a dance class, roller blading, rowing, swimming, and more. Exercise is not strictly limited to activities inside of a gym. Find an active routine that interests you and make it part of your daily routine."
Mike Hinson / Via buzzfeed.com
That weight loss is the best reason to work out.
"One of the misconceptions about weight loss is that it is the most important outcome or benefit of fitness. It is AN outcome, but it is not the only one, and in most cases, not the most important one. There are a myriad of benefits to our physical health, mental health, and overall well-being that extend far beyond the aesthetic benefits that society has crafted us to desire.
Chronic disease prevention, improved mental health, stronger bones and muscles, and prevention of premature death are among some of the benefits of regular physical activity. Sure, weight loss/weight management can also be an outcome, but I think it would be wise of us to shift focus to these longer term, potentially life-saving benefits.
It isn't ALL about weight loss."
@combinefitness209 / Via instagram.com
That there's a "correct" time of day to work out for maximum results.
"When people ask me, 'when is the best time to work out?,' my answer is: When is the best time for YOU?
Ask yourself these three questions: When is it possible in my schedule to work out, when will I work out with the most intensity, and when makes me feel best during the day? Structure your workout around the answers to those questions.
If you will crush a barbell better at 6 a.m. than you will at 6 p.m., go for it! If you want a 1 p.m. run so that you can give yourself a boost of energy for that 3 p.m. slump, have at it! If all that works in your schedule is at 8 p.m. after you finish a ridiculously long day at work, than that's YOUR time. You do you, boo. 'You' time is always the best time."
—Erica Giovinazzo, registered dietitian, CrossFit Coach and Manager of BRICK Los Angeles
That you have to avoid or restrict certain foods.
"You don't have to cut out foods you love to be healthy. And in fact, trying to avoid those foods will likely lead to just binging on them later; it's not sustainable long term. I always work with my nutrition clients from the approach of what they can add to their diets rather than what they should subtract. For example, more veggies! Or more balance at certain meals so they don't find themselves hungry again an hour later. Healthy eating and actually enjoying food do not have to be mutually exclusive."
—Anne Mauney, MPH, RD, of fANNEtasticfood.com
@swme1406 / Via instagram.com
That the scale provides useful information.
"When trying to make body composition changes it’s best to pay more attention to the way your clothes fit, which is a better indicator of loss of fat, which is what people are really talking about when they want to lose weight. Plus, from a health perspective, losing fat (as opposed to muscle and water weight) is optimal. But a scale just measures the weight of your body, not how much fat vs. muscle vs. water there is in it."
—Ben Sit, RD, president of Evolved Sport and Nutrition
@ellas_leap_of_faith / Via instagram.com
That you should eat the exact same (small) amount of food every single day of your life.
"People often think that healthy eating or weight maintenance has to be light, depriving, and small-portioned 100% of the time. But in truth, life is full of ups and downs, and so is your diet. One day you might eat well above your caloric needs (like on your birthday!) and the next day you might be craving a smoothie and salad. The same pattern might apply for weeks at a time — a season of eating more, followed by a season of eating less. I like to call this the Squiggly Line Effect. Healthy living is fluid and you must go with the flow."
—Kath Younger, RD, founder of Kath Eats Real Food
@kezwink / Via instagram.com
That you can "jumpstart" your weight loss with a cleanse.
"The marketers behind cleanses try to make us believe that 'cleaning' our body from the inside out will somehow initiate a new healthy lifestyle, as if we're decluttering our living room in order to start fresh. But the reality is that better health is achieved over time, and no one ingredient or handful of ingredients (lemon, vinegar, cayenne, herbs, green juice) will have a significant impact on our ability to lose weight. If we want to lose weight and keep it off, we have to change our eating habits and lifestyle in general, and for a long time. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts."
@goodvibes0712 / Via instagram.com