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The multibillion dollar diet industry is full of conflicting and misleading information that all promise the quick fix - instant, painless weight loss. Weight loss gimmicks always seem easier and faster but are detrimental in the long run.

To help you navigate the battle of the bulge, here's the truth about the most common weight loss myths:

Myth: The stricter the diet, the more successful it will be.

Fad diets that eliminate food groups or drastically cut calories will be less effective in the long run. Omitting entire food groups or eating just one food will not only deprive you nutritionally but will quickly become boring. You will soon tire of the limited food allowances, feel deprived, and go off the diet. Drastically cutting calories will put your body into starvation mode, slow down your metabolism and bring your weight loss to a crawl. It's not necessary to starve to lose weight.

Myth: No more favorite, high-calorie foods.

It's not necessary to completely eliminate your favorite high-calorie foods. An occasional treat of a small serving of your old favorite will help you stay motivated and prevent binging later. If you have a penchant for fast food, try healthier alternatives, such as a salad with the dressings on the side, or grilled chicken instead of fried.

Myth: Snacking is forbidden.

Snacking has gotten a bad reputation because of the fattening treats it's associated with such as chips, cookies and candies. However, eating healthful snacks in between meals will help you eat less overall and keep your blood sugar levels and metabolism steady. Nutritious snacks such as small amounts of fruits, vegetables and nuts will help you avoid overeating or binging at your next meal.

Myth: All fats, dairy, and carbs are bad.

Not all fats, dairy and carbohydrates (carbs) are dietary disasters. Avoiding all fats, dairy, and/or carbs for fear of gaining weight is a big mistake. Experts have found that 'good' fats, dairy and carbs contain an impressive range of protective, disease-fighting nutrients. Moderate amounts of 'good' (monounsaturated) fats like olive oil and canola oil should be included in the diet and 'bad' (saturated and trans) fats such as butter and hydrogenated oils should be eliminated. Full-fat dairy products are high in calories and fat. However, low or non-fat dairy products are lower in calories and fat and important source of protein, calcium and other vitamins and minerals that should be included in the diet.  Moderate amounts of 'good' (whole, unrefined) carbs such as brown rice, whole grain breads, beans, fruits and vegetables should also be included in the diet. 'Bad' (processed) carbs that are high in sugar and refined white flour, such as baked goods and junk foods, should be eliminated or limited in the diet.

  1. Gavalas E. The Yoga Minibook for Weight Loss, New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2003.

  2. Gavalas E. Yogi in the Kitchen, New York, NY: Penguin Putnam Avery, 2005.

  3. Scott JR. Top 10 Dieting Myths, About.com:

  4. http://weightloss.about.com/od/getstarted/tp/bltpmyths.htm

  5. Albert S. 5 Weight Loss Myths, September 7, 2004, WebMD:

  6. http://www.webmd.com/content/Article/93/102495.htm

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