There is no shortage of weight loss advice on the internet.
Although some weight loss tips are helpful, others are ineffective, misleading, or downright harmful.
Here are 8 weight loss tips that you should ignore completely.
1. Always eat breakfast, even if you’re not hungry
You may have heard that it’s important to eat breakfast to boost your metabolism after sleeping through the night.
As such, many people force themselves to eat in the morning, even if they’re not hungry. However, eating breakfast isn’t necessarily beneficial for losing weight.
In fact, studies have shown that eating or skipping breakfast has very little effect on weight, and that skipping it may even result in slightly more weight loss.
In one study, people who skipped breakfast ended up eating 144 calories more at lunch, compared with people who had eaten a morning meal. However, at the end of the day, their total calorie intake was still 408 calories lower.
Skipping breakfast is one form of intermittent fasting, which some people find helps them lose weight. Intermittent fasting may also have health benefits.
The idea that eating breakfast is important for weight control may be partly due to a survey of National Weight Control Registry members who had lost weight and kept it off for at least 5 years. Most of these people said they ate breakfast regularly.
However, everyone is different, and some people reap more benefits from eating breakfast than others. The current thinking is that, if you’re not hungry in the morning, there’s no reason to eat breakfast.
If you are hungry, make sure to eat a breakfast high in protein so you’ll be more satisfied and less likely to overeat at lunch.
2. Don’t weigh yourself every day
Your weight can fluctuate from day to day in response to several factors.
For this reason, many sources say you should avoid weighing yourself every day when trying to lose weight.
While this seems to make sense, the opposite may be true.
In a 6-month study on people with overweight or obesity, people who got on scale every day consumed fewer calories and lost 6.6 % of their body weight, on average, compared with people in the control group, who lost less than 1% of their body weight.
In another study, researchers looking at the weighing habits of 40 people with overweight found that those who took breaks of longer than 1 month had a greater risk of weight gain.
Frequently weighing yourself can provide accountability and confirm that your weight is trending in the right direction.
Some studies have reported that daily weighing didn’t appear to lead to disordered eating or negative psychological effects, such as poor body image.
However, for some people, checking the scales frequently can become a source of anxiety. If you feel that it’s not good for your psychological health, it’s best to avoid this strategy.
It’s important to keep in mind that your weight can fluctuate daily. Hormonal changes, fluid balance, and bowel movement frequency can affect weight. These changes don’t reflect fat loss or gain.
3. Do juice cleanses
Juice cleanses, also known as juice fasts, are very popular.
Proponents claim you can lose up to 10 pounds (4.5 kg) in a week and rid your body of toxins.
However, there’s very little research showing that juice cleanses are safe or effective.
In one study, women drank a lemon juice and syrup mixture with less than 500 calories for 7 days. They lost weight and reduced insulin resistance.
Any diet this low in calories will cause weight loss, but it’s unlikely to produce lasting results.
A major issue is that a cleanse doesn’t establish the type of healthy eating habits necessary for keeping up weight loss over time.
What’s more, these juices tend to be high in sugar but low in protein, which is a bad combination for appetite control and health.
As far as detoxifying goes, your liver and other organs perform that function daily. There’s no need for a “cleanse”.
4. Don’t lose weight quickly
The conventional advice is to lose weight slowly so you’ll have a better chance of maintaining your lower weight.
While it’s certainly fine to lose weight slowly, the most recent research indicates that faster weight loss in the beginning does not increase the risk of weight regain. In fact, losing weight fast seems to be beneficial for long-term weight loss.
One study found that people who lost weight quickly during the first month were five times as likely to have lost 10% of their body weight within 18 months, compared with those who started off losing weight more slowly.
However, some weight loss methods are better than others. Cutting calories to extremely low levels may cause rapid weight loss in the beginning, but it’s unlikely to be sustainable.
Cardiovascular exercise, also known as cardio or aerobic exercise, reduces your stress levels and benefits your heart and overall health.
However, cardio not be the best exercise strategy for losing weight.
Weight loss response to cardiovascular exercise depends greatly on the individual. Some people lose weight in response to cardio, while others either maintain or gain a slight amount of weight.
The best strategy for getting fit and maintaining muscle mass while losing weight is to combine strength training with cardio.
Despite popular opinion, not all fats are bad for your health, and avoiding all fatty foods won’t necessarily help you lose weight.
Fat has twice as many calories as protein or carbs, but it’s also very filling and takes a long time to digest.
Standard low fat diets, in which fat comprises less than 30% of all calories, generally have a poorer track record than other diets, such as low carb diets, when it comes to weight loss.
In fact, foods that are naturally high in fat, including avocados, nuts, and coconut, can aid weight loss.
Full fat dairy products contain a fat called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which research has linked to lower body fat and improved insulin sensitivity.
By contrast, eating or drinking fat-free or low fat products in an attempt to cut calories could backfire, as many of these products are loaded with refined sugar.
While eating foods naturally high in healthy fat can work in your favor, putting a lot of added fat on your food is not helpful. Adding too much fat can increase calories to the point where you won’t lose weight.
That said, ultra-low-fat diets, in which fat comprises less than 10% of calories, may have some benefits for weight loss.
7. Eat every 2–3 hours
You may have heard that it’s best to eat many small meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism up. This is a myth.
In one small study, researchers gave two groups the same number of calories either in two large meals or spread between seven small meals. They found no difference in calories burned between the two groups.
Controlled studies have shown that eating many small meals does not result in greater weight loss, compared with eating three or fewer meals per day.
What’s more, research has linked frequent meals after weight loss surgery with diminished weight loss 6 months after the procedure.
The main problem with snacking or eating many small meals is that you often end up consuming more calories than your body needs.
Read about healthy snack options for weight loss.
8. Focus only on calorie intake
While people need to create a calorie deficit to lose weight, calorie intake is only part of the story.
The type of food you eat has a huge effect on hunger, appetite, and the hormones that control weight. These factors can affect your ability to achieve a calorie deficit.
For instance, eating a 100-calorie pack of pretzels is not the same as eating 100 calories of fruit. Pretzels are made of refined carbs, which can raise blood sugar levels, cause hunger, and lead to overeating.
By contrast, getting the same amount of calories from high protein foods results in hormone changes that lead to increased fullness and reduced hunger.
In addition, protein has a higher thermic effect than either carbs or fat, meaning it burns more calories during and after digestion.
Studies have demonstrated that calorie intake naturally goes down when you restrict carbs, and that weight loss is greater on low carb diets than it is on low fat diets.
Finally, even if calories were the only thing that mattered, it’s very difficult to accurately gauge how many you’re eating. One study found that people with obesity underestimated their true food intake by 47%, on average.
Furthermore, calorie counts on processed foods are often inaccurate.
The bottom line
Although everyone is unique and there are differences among individuals, certain recommendations for weight loss simply don’t work for most people.