When it comes to bad weight loss recommendations, dietitians have heard it all from their clients. Here are the tips they wish you'd stop believing, plus some proven strategies to use instead.
"Stop Eating Gluten."
We've said this before, but let's say it again. Unless you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, there's no reason to eliminate gluten from your diet, and there's no evidence that doing so will help you shed pounds. "Going gluten-free makes eating more expensive, takes good-tasting bread and pizza off the menu, and doesn't guarantee a lower calorie intake," says DR Georgie Fear, author of Lean Habits for Lifelong Weight Loss.
"Even if going gluten-free keeps you away from pasta and bread, there are plenty of gluten-free goodies like cookies and cake that sneak all those kJs back into your diet anyway." Instead, keep enjoying gluten-containing foods in moderation, like everything else.
"It's All About Exercise."
You might have heard the phrase you can't outrun a bad diet—and it's true. "I've had clients place exercise on a pedestal above diet and other lifestyle behaviours," says DR Devon Golem. "Truth is, scientific evidence reveals that diet alone is more effective than exercise alone when it comes to short-term weight loss. And for long-term weight loss, you need a combination of diet, exercise, and other lifestyle changes."
"As Long as it's Healthy, You Don't Have to Watch How Much You Eat."
We know, we know—nobody likes breaking out the measuring cups and spoons. But portions really do matter, especially when it comes to kilojoule-dense fats, says nutrition professor Lisa Young. "I have had clients who have actually gained weight by thinking this way," she says. "Nuts, avocados, and olive oil are healthy fats—but you have to watch your portions!"
"Taking a Cheat Day Will Keep Your Metabolism Up."
Sorry, cheat day lovers: The big increase in kJs you eat on a cheat day will probably be stored as body fat, says Fear. "The best way to keep your metabolism up and lose fat is not to down a whole pizza on Sunday, but to eat some carbs daily, strength train several times a week, get enough sleep, and eat within your kJ needs—every day of the week," she says.
"Diet and Exercise Are The Only Things You Need to Worry About."
Sleep, stress, and environment all play a huge role in your weight-loss efforts. "The link between sleep and weight is undeniable. The less we sleep, the more we weigh," says Golem. "Stress is another factor that needs to be considered, especially if food or alcohol is being used as a calming strategy. Chronic stress influences appetite-regulating hormones and affects hormones that regulate the way your body burns kilojoules."
It also pays to consider your environment, Golem explains. Research shows that people who keep unhealthy foods like cookies on the kitchen counter weigh more than those who don't. So take a look at what kinds of foods you're regularly stocking at home and at work.