Dietitians Debunk 18 Weight Loss Myths

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Lorraine Kearney: One of
the biggest myths that I get from my clients is that I need to skip meals and
starve in order to lose weight. It's not true. So, if you skip meals, it's gonna have such a
negative effect on your body that when you do go to
sit down and eat, you'll probably overconsume. Narrator: That's
Lorraine Kearney, one of three dietitians we
brought into our studios. My name is Ryan Turner. My name is Nikita Kapur. Narrator: To debunk 18 of
the most common weight-loss myths. Kearney: The biggest myth
that frustrates me the most is that all calories are
created equally. A calorie is not just a calorie. It depends on the source
of your calories, whether it's coming
from caloric-dense foods or nutritional-dense foods.

Caloric-dense foods
would be more so our cookies, our cakes. We can have a cookie
that's 100 calories, we'll eat it,
it'll digest really fast, then it's gonna spike
our blood sugar levels where, when we start
to crash again, we're gonna crave
more sugar for that energy pick-me-up. Narrator: And that can
make you gain weight. Kearney: On the other hand,
you can have a banana. Narrator: Which
is an example of a nutritionally
dense food. Kearney: I get the
question a lot, do bananas make you fat? Bananas do not
make you fat. Bananas, they're a great
source of potassium, but for those 100 calories you're also gonna get the
fiber and the nutrients that your body needs
in that cellular level to make sure that
you are healthy and that you're nourished.

Narrator: And you definitely
need to nourish your body if you're trying to
lose weight. Kapur: When we are
restricting calories, you are restricting the
energy source of your body. You're also restricting the
energy source of your brain. And if that's happening, then, you know,
very primitive, protective mechanisms start to kick into place where your body
senses that as a physiological threat and does start to shift
your metabolic balance to burn less because
it's getting less.

It's kinda like a
budget. Right? So, if you have a paycheck and you're running
out of funds, you're going to conserve
how much you pay till your next paycheck. Your body does the same. Your body will jump
into this protective physiological,
biological mechanism to reduce the amount
of energy you're using, which is why it is hard for
people to maintain weight. Narrator: And starving
yourself can also shrink
your muscles. Turner: You wanna
make sure that you're not eating less than 70% of your
overall calorie needs. If you do, that's
where not only are you probably gonna
feel extremely hungry and it's gonna take you off of any goals that
you're setting, but you're probably
gonna start compromising your muscle mass as well, and that's where weight
loss is gonna be unhealthy. Narrator: But while the
amount of calories you consume matters, the timing might not. Turner: Timing your meals
is always a big question. Everyone comes to me
and they kinda smirk and they think that I'm
gonna give them a thumbs up when they say, "I don't eat after 6 o'clock or 7 o'clock." And I say, "Oh, all
right, do you enjoy that?" And they say, "No." And I say, "Well then
maybe eating after is OK." Because timing of day is not going to
affect weight loss.

Calories are what's
going to affect weight loss or body-fat loss. So, if you eat a bunch
of additional calories and you're in calorie surplus and those are coming
late at night, then that's what's causing
something like weight gain. Narrator: And what
about eating first thing in the morning? Kearney: It depends on the
body, and it depends on the person and their
relationship with food. For a lot of people,
me included, if I don't eat a meal, I
usually feel very deprived, and it's like I want to
make up for it later.

If that happens, then that's when we can
add in a lot of calories. Personally, I'm a huge
advocate of breakfast. Our body runs on fuel,
and food is our fuel. So if we have our breakfast, then we feel we have
more sustained energy throughout the day. Narrator: And if you do
choose to eat breakfast, feel free to go for
that 2% yogurt. Turner: Now, fat is
incredibly necessary. We should not be
afraid of fat.

We need fat in the diet. Fat's gonna be
necessary for things like absorbing nutrients,
like the fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin A and
D and E and K. And you also need to
make sure that fat, specifically cholesterol, is what's gonna help produce
things like your hormones, so things like estrogen and testosterone,
growth hormones, so we need all those
kind of things. Narrator: Not only is
fat healthy, but fat-free foods are often
loaded with sugar or salt. Kearney: So, if you
have a wholesome product and you're removing
the fat of it, it's gonna taste
completely different. You probably wouldn't
even like it. But what they're gonna
do is replace that flavor with something else, and usually it's either
sodium or sugar. So, with sugar, when we have, like, a yogurt that has the fruit
at the bottom, they're gonna have
way more sugars than if you had, like,
a 2% Greek yogurt. Narrator: And, as it
turns out, fat isn't the only nutrient
you can keep in your diet and still lose weight.

Kearney: One of the biggest
myths I get about carbs is that you must omit them
from your diet to lose weight, or my body doesn't
digest them well and I have to omit them because I'd never
lose weight unless I restrict myself. It's not true. Narrator: And it's just
not sustainable. Kearney: It's almost
impossible to have a no-carb diet. Fruits and vegetables are
known as carbohydrates, and we must get those
for their nutrients. Why carbs have
a bad name? It's because of
the simple carbs. The carbs that you see
prepackaged that are the cookies, the cakes, the sodas,
the potato chips. They're called
simple carbs because the chemical
structure of them is usually one to two glucose
molecules put together. So, when you have, like,
a small glucose molecule, it's easy for them
to break away. But with our complex carbs, they are really long
chains of carbon that usually are about
18-carbon long, and then, by the time
that your body starts to break it down, it's gonna take a while, and
that's exactly what we want because it helps balance
our blood sugar and also that fiber
keeps us full for longer and then also prevents
us from snacking.

So, eat your carbs. Definitely eat your
carbs and eat your bread. Bread's delicious; it's
one of my favorite things. Narrator: And she has
a pro tip for finding bread with
more complex carbs. Kearney: Read your
ingredient list. With bread, a lot of those
mass-produced breads that are in the bread aisle
that are shelf-stable, they can last a month without getting
mold on them. And when you look
at the ingredient list, it's probably about
50 ingredients long.

They're the ones
we wanna avoid. When you're getting bread, get the fresh bread that
comes from the local bakery, which is usually around
the deli counter area inside of grocery stores. Those will have maybe
four or five ingredients, it'll mold after two days, but you can preserve it by just putting it
into the freezer and take it out
as you need it. Narrator: And,
speaking of bread, what about going
gluten-free to lose weight? Kearney: Gluten-free
for weight loss can be a huge
marketing ploy.

So, with gluten-free,
there are a lot of people that do have an
intolerance to gluten. Or they have celiac disease, which is where the body
starts attacking itself and can deteriorate
the body. Narrator: But there are
also people without these conditions
who are looking to… Kearney: Blame something
like the gluten without checking the
rest of their diet. If you are honest
with yourself, recording your food,
checking the ingredients, and then you eat the gluten and you feel the
intolerance, then great. But a lot of people will
choose to just jump in and be like, gluten's
the enemy. Narrator: So, most of us
don't need to cut out gluten or fat or carbs to
lose weight. But there are some products
better left on the shelf. Kearney: The diet sodas
are terrible, with all the additives,
preservatives in them, and the hidden sugars. A lot of the added sugars
are the synthetic sugars that are supposed
to be great because they don't
release insulin, which then doesn't cause a
spike in blood sugar levels.

But, internally, if we don't stimulate
the release of insulin, those sugars, the synthetic
sugars, go to the liver, build up around the liver, hinder the functioning
of the liver, and then can lead to
nonalcoholic fatty disease. If I'm gonna have a soda, which I have once
in a blue moon, it will be the real thing. Yes, there's more sugar in it, but it's something that I
don't have on a regular basis.

Narrator: Better yet,
she says, drink water. Kearney: Jazz up
your water. Add fruit to it, add some
mint or cucumber, lemon. Yes, it'll take a little bit
for your taste buds to reset, but you're getting so many
nutrients from that water, and your body
requires water for it to function
optimally. Water is one of
the six nutrients that the body needs. And when we're
dehydrated, it also mimics the
signs of hunger.

So people turn to food a
lot if they're dehydrated, not realizing that
they're not hungry, it's just your body saying, "Give me some water,
I'm thirsty." Narrator: And what
about juice? Kearney: Oh, juice
cleanses. [laughs] So, juice cleanses are,
like, one of my pet peeves. If you're having a juice
every once in a while, great. You're still getting the
antioxidants out of it, you're still getting
the nutrients, but you're
removing that fiber. And fiber is key for the
body to support gut health. With a lot of juice cleanses,
they're hella expensive, and we have this belief that they're gonna be
better for our bodies or it's a cleansing
effect of our body. Realistically, what's
happening is that, when you have those
juice cleanses that are mostly coming
from, like, fruit sugars and then the
vegetable sugars, it's a high, high amount
of fructose in the body.

When the body consumes
excess fructose, it has a spasming effect
of the GI tract that can lend to
the cleansing effect. So that when we
are actually having a reaction to the high amounts of fructose
in the body, people think it's the
cleansing effect because the marketing
ploys have led us to believe that way. But it's not.

You would be better
cleansing your body by actually eating the
apple, eating the spinach, and eating all the other fruits
that are in that cleanse. That would be better for you because fiber is our
natural detox. What it does is it goes
through the body, picks up, like, excess
fat, metabolic waste, and help cleanse it out. Narrator: But juice cleanses
aren't the only diet fads that don't often work. Turner: Intermittent
fasting is probably a question I get all the time.

It's…we can kinda put
it in that myth category. Narrator: Now, it can
restrict calories and, at least temporarily,
help you lose weight. Turner: If you're only allowed
to eat food for eight hours, that just gives someone
a lot of structure, and that can be very,
very helpful. You can only get so many
calories in your mouth in that time. On the flip side, someone can get a lot of
calories in their mouth during that time as well. So, someone can, and I've
seen many people do it, they've gained weight
through intermittent fasting. So it's not just gonna
be this quick fix; there's nothing magical to it. Narrator: And the same goes
for many popular diets.

Kapur: So, one of the
common diets right now that is gaining popularity
is the ketogenic diet. So, a lot of people
who are doing that are just eliminating
carbohydrates, which is why that's
hard to sustain, because your body does need carbohydrates
for a reason. To be honest, there's
not a lot of research that's saying that that is
something that is helpful. There's maybe a lot of
research in mice models, but that hasn't
been transcribed into human studies. Narrator: And while people
have lost weight on keto, it's often not
without side effects. Kapur: They're eliminating
whole grains and legumes, certain fruits
and vegetables, and really increasing
their fat intake, which, although
fats are important, excess of any
nutrient can cause metabolic changes
in your body that will impact your
cardiovascular health, your physical health,
your metabolic health. So, an example
would be patients that we're seeing in
the clinical setting are following ketogenic
diets, are seeing weight loss, however, are coming with
higher cholesterol markers, they're coming with
higher LDL markers, they're coming with more
irritable bowel symptoms, they're coming with more
gastrointestinal discomfort.

Narrator: The truth is
there's no one tool that will make you
magically lose weight. Kapur: I think the most
prevalent concept around health these
days is biohacking, which is this idea that
you can defeat biology, you can work around your
genetic predispositions, your metabolic parameters, and that is actually not true. And the reason for
that is because you cannot defeat biology, you cannot hack hunger, you cannot hack access
to healthcare, you cannot hack motivation. And this idea that, again,
if those results are there, you're going to be able
to feel more satisfied is also not true. So, this biohacking works on
this concept and this belief that, you know, you can work
your way and fix your body, and that prescribes to
the social construct that it is up to you
to change that.

Narrator: And that's also
why most diets don't work. Kapur: They're hard
to sustain, they're hard to maintain, so the results are
very temporary, which is why we go back
to something, trying something new. It's important to focus
on behaviors rather than outcomes. Kearney: Where you should
start is record your food. A simple food log
to lose weight is really just being
honest with yourself, identifying your foods
and the hidden ingredients that could be
contributing to excess of hundreds and hundreds
of calories per day. Take olive oil.

Olive oil is great. But when we cook with it, we usually free-pour
it into a pan. Each tablespoon of olive
oil has 128 calories. Now, if you're pouring in,
like, 6, 7, 8 tablespoons with your vegetables, you're getting almost 1,000
calories that you don't need. Narrator: So, pro tip for
cooking with olive oil: Kearney: Put it in, wait
till your pan is hot, once it's hot, add 1 to 2
tablespoons of olive oil, and then add in
your vegetables.

When the pan is hot enough,
it will disperse easier and then you'll use less. Also, once you put
the vegetables in, some water and moisture will
come from those vegetables and will add to the
liquid in the pan, so you actually don't
need to add excess in. Narrator: And if
you are being mindful of what you eat, that whole idea of cheating?
Kearney isn't a fan. Kearney: I don't think
there is any cheat meals. I don't like the word cheat. I think it gives it this, it gives us this, like,
higher power, like, oh, this is really bad
and I can't believe I did this, I completely fell
off the wagon. No, remove that. Because then you're
gonna want it more, you're gonna feel even
more guilty about it. If you go out and
you're socializing and you're trying out one of
New York's best restaurants that's filled with cream
and butter, enjoy it.

Just try to get a
salad to start. And filling up on salad is a
great way to cut the calories, and then, have, like,
one of the appetizers that are not in line
with your health goals with your table and share,
'cause sharing is caring. Narrator: And there's
more good news. Kearney: You can still
lose weight while drinking
occasional alcohol, if you're sticking to
the cleaner foods. And by omitting all the foods that you tend to
enjoy in the past, by omitting alcohol, trying
to increase your exercise, and then doing this, like,
detox fad all in one go, it's overwhelming, and it's
setting you up for failure. So doing it in stages
and being more realistic about what you
can change now, and then work towards it. What I usually recommend
to my clients is take care of your food now. You'll understand
how your body feels when it's nourished, understand how your gut health is supposed
to be supported, and then we'll
focus on alcohol and working in
the exercise. Narrator: But the thing is, no matter how much
we care about it, weight definitely
isn't everything.

Kapur: I think one of
the biggest myths around weight
loss and weight is that overweight
equals unhealthy, normal weight equals healthy, as defined by the
BMI category. BMI is a very inaccurate
measure of health because it is just looking
at your height and weight without taking into account what your metabolic
factors and parameters are, what is your physiological
health, your physical health, your sleep, your
mental health, your relationship to food. And I think it's
very important to factor those things if we really wanna define
someone as healthy. And if we're not gonna look
at it more holistically, I think what that does is it marginalizes people
in bigger bodies. Narrator: Plus, not
everyone can lose weight, even if they're putting
in the same effort.

Kapur: That's a very
common myth, that everybody should have, has the same ability
to lose weight, and if everybody eats
the same way, they're gonna look
the same way, which is very untrue,
and that's incorrect. And the reason for that is I think it's important
to understand that someone's weight is a factor
of so many different things. It is so complex. All the way from your
genetic predispositions, your family history, your
past medical history, your relationship to food
as you were growing up, because not everybody
has access to food. Because health is about
inclusion, access, connection, joy,
physiological well-being, and we have to take those
factors into account.

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