Myths about Weight Loss

The internet is flooded with weight loss advice, but it is crucial to distinguish between what is true and what is simply misinformation. Let’s uncover some of the biggest lies, myths, and misconceptions surrounding weight loss.



All calories are equal.While a calorie is a unit of energy, not all calories have the same impact on your weight. Different types of foods undergo distinct metabolic processes, leading to varying effects on hunger levels and the hormones responsible for regulating body weight. For instance, protein calories differ from those derived from fat or carbohydrates. Increasing your protein intake can enhance your metabolism, reduce appetite and cravings, and optimize the function of weight-regulating hormones [1]. On the other hand, calories from whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables and legumes, tend to be more satiating than those from refined foods like candy.
Weight loss follows a linear path.Weight loss is rarely a straightforward, consistent process. Contrary to popular belief, there will be days or weeks where you may experience weight fluctuations. Some days, you may see the numbers on the scale drop, while on other days, you might notice a slight increase. These fluctuations are entirely normal and should not be a cause for alarm. Various factors can contribute to these weight fluctuations. For instance, your body weight can be influenced by the amount of food in your digestive system or temporary water retention. In women, these fluctuations can be more pronounced due to hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle [2].
Supplements help in losing weight.The weight loss supplement industry is booming, with countless companies making grand promises about the effectiveness of their products. However, when these supplements are subjected to scientific scrutiny, their actual impact on weight loss is often found to be overwhelming. The main reason why some individuals may experience any benefits from weight loss supplements is due to the placebo effect. People are swayed by persuasive marketing tactics and hold onto the hope that these supplements will help them shed pounds. As a result, they become more mindful of their eating habits and make conscious efforts to improve their diet. It’s worth noting that a handful of supplements do show modest potential for supporting weight loss. These select few may contribute to a slight reduction in weight over the course of several months. However, it’s crucial to approach these supplements with caution and not rely solely on them for significant weight loss.
Weight is about willpower.The notion that weight is solely determined by willpower is an oversimplification that fails to capture the complexity of obesity as a multifactorial condition. In reality, obesity is influenced by a wide range of factors, including genetic variables and various medical conditions that can predispose individuals to weight gain [3]. The regulation of body weight involves a complex interplay of hormones and biological pathways. Unfortunately, these mechanisms often become disrupted in individuals with obesity, making it significantly more challenging to lose weight and maintain it [4]. One prominent contributor to obesity is leptin resistance [5]. Leptin, a hormone produced by fat cells, signals the brain when sufficient fat stores are present. However, in cases of leptin resistance, the brain incorrectly perceives a state of starvation despite ample fat reserves. Attempting to rely solely on willpower and restrict food intake in the face of this leptin-driven starvation signal becomes an arduous task.
Eat less, move more.The notion of “eat less, move more” as a simple solution for weight loss is a widely recognized concept. The idea is that body fat is essentially excess stored energy, and by creating a calorie deficit (burning more calories than consumed), weight loss will occur. While this advice may seem logical and potentially effective, it falls short as a recommendation for individuals with a serious weight problem. In practice, many people who strictly adhere to this advice often experience weight regain due to various physiological and biochemical factors [4]. The complexities of obesity extend beyond a simplistic equation of calories in versus calories out. Merely reducing food intake and increasing physical activity is insufficient for sustainable weight loss. For individuals with a significant weight problem, a profound and sustained shift in perspective and behavior is necessary to achieve successful weight loss through dietary changes and exercise. Offering someone with obesity the oversimplified advice of “eat less, move more” is akin to suggesting that someone with depression should simply cheer up or someone with alcoholism should drink less. It disregards the multifaceted nature of these conditions and the need for comprehensive and individualized approaches.
Carbohydrate intake increases body fats.The notion that carbs make you fat is a popular belief, but it oversimplifies the relationship between carbohydrates and weight gain. While low-carb diets have shown effectiveness in promoting weight loss [6], it’s important to understand the nuances of this association. In many cases, reducing carbohydrate intake can lead to weight loss, even without consciously restricting overall calorie intake. By focusing on low-carb options and prioritizing protein consumption, individuals may experience weight loss benefits [7]. However, it is crucial to note that carbohydrates themselves do not inherently cause weight gain. Throughout history, humans have consumed carbs as part of their regular diet, and it was only around 1980 that the obesity epidemic began. Carbohydrates derived from whole, unprocessed foods offer valuable nutritional benefits and can contribute to a healthy diet. On the other hand, it is refined carbs such as processed grains and added sugars that are strongly linked to weight gain. These types of carbs lack essential nutrients and are often calorie-dense, leading to overconsumption and an increased risk of weight gain.
Fat intake increase body fats.The belief that fat makes you fat is a common misconception that overlooks the complexity of weight management. While it is true that fat contains more calories per gram compared to carbs or protein (providing around 9 calories per gram), it is important to understand that fat alone does not directly lead to weight gain. The key factor in weight management is maintaining a balanced calorie intake within a healthy range. Consuming fat, as long as it is part of a well-rounded diet, does not automatically cause weight gain. In fact, certain diets that are high in fat but low in carbs have been found to contribute to weight loss in various studies [8]. It is crucial to distinguish between different types of fats. While unhealthy, calorie-dense fats found in processed and junk foods can contribute to weight gain when consumed excessively, healthy fats are essential for proper bodily functions. Your body requires these healthy fats for various processes and overall well-being.
Fast food causes weight gain.Contrary to popular belief, not all fast food is inherently unhealthy. With the growing awareness of health and nutrition, many fast food chains have responded by expanding their menu to include healthier options. In fact, some establishments, like Chipotle, have made it their primary focus to serve nutritious and wholesome meals. Today, you can find relatively healthy choices at most restaurants, including those with affordable fast food options. These establishments often offer alternatives that cater to health-conscious individuals. While these options may not meet the specific dietary preferences of every health-conscious individual, they still provide a viable choice for those who may lack the time or energy to prepare a nutritious meal from scratch.
Weight loss diets are effective.The weight loss industry often promotes the idea that diets are effective for losing weight. However, numerous studies have shown that dieting rarely leads to long-term weight loss success. In fact, research indicates that approximately 85% of individuals who go on diets end up regaining the weight within a year [9]. Furthermore, studies have found that people who engage in dieting behaviors are more likely to gain weight in the future rather than lose it [10]. This suggests that dieting is not a reliable approach for achieving sustainable weight loss. Instead of adopting a dieting mindset, it is more beneficial to focus on making permanent lifestyle changes that promote overall health and well-being. By increasing your activity levels, adopting healthier eating habits, and prioritizing quality sleep, you can naturally and effectively achieve weight loss as a positive side effect. Relying solely on restrictive diets is unlikely to yield long-term success in maintaining a healthy weight.
Obese people are unhealthy while thin people are healthy.While it is accurate that obesity is associated with an increased risk of chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers [11], it is important to note that not all individuals with obesity experience these health conditions. Similarly, there are thin individuals who may have these same chronic diseases [12]. The distribution of body fat appears to play a crucial role. Accumulating excess fat in the abdominal region poses a higher risk for metabolic diseases [13].
Diet food helps lose weight.Many junk food products are cleverly marketed as healthy options. This includes food items labeled as low-fat, fat-free, processed gluten-free, and high-sugar beverages. It is essential to approach health claims on food packaging with skepticism, particularly when it comes to processed foods. Often, these labels are designed to mislead rather than provide accurate information. Some marketers of junk food may even try to persuade you to purchase their unhealthy products. In fact, if a food package claims to be healthy, there is a possibility that it is quite the opposite.

To Conclude

If your goal is weight loss, you’ve likely encountered numerous myths surrounding the topic. These misconceptions are pervasive in Western culture and can be challenging to avoid. However, it’s important to recognize that many of these myths are untrue. The connection between food, the body, and weight is intricate and multifaceted. To embark on a weight loss journey, it is beneficial to educate yourself about evidence-based modifications you can make to your diet and lifestyle. By focusing on reliable information, you can make informed decisions and take effective steps toward your weight loss goals.


  1. Pesta, D. H., & Samuel, V. T. (2014). A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats. Nutrition & metabolism11(1), 53.
  2. White, C. P., Hitchcock, C. L., Vigna, Y. M., & Prior, J. C. (2011). Fluid Retention over the Menstrual Cycle: 1-Year Data from the Prospective Ovulation Cohort. Obstetrics and gynecology international2011, 138451.
  3. Yang W, Kelly T, He J. Genetic epidemiology of obesity. Epidemiol Rev. 2007;29:49-61. doi: 10.1093/epirev/mxm004. Epub 2007 Jun 12. PMID: 17566051.
  4. Greenway, F. Physiological adaptations to weight loss and factors favouring weight regain. Int J Obes 39, 1188–1196 (2015).
  5. Allison MB, Myers MG Jr. 20 years of leptin: connecting leptin signaling to biological function. J Endocrinol. 2014 Oct;223(1):T25-35. doi: 10.1530/JOE-14-0404. PMID: 25232147; PMCID: PMC4170570.
  6. Brehm BJ, Seeley RJ, Daniels SR, D’Alessio DA. A randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Apr;88(4):1617-23. doi: 10.1210/jc.2002-021480. PMID: 12679447.
  7. Brehm BJ, Seeley RJ, Daniels SR, D’Alessio DA. A randomized trial comparing a very low carbohydrate diet and a calorie-restricted low fat diet on body weight and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Apr;88(4):1617-23. doi: 10.1210/jc.2002-021480. PMID: 12679447.
  10. Lowe, M. R., Doshi, S. D., Katterman, S. N., & Feig, E. H. (2013). Dieting and restrained eating as prospective predictors of weight gain. Frontiers in psychology4, 577.
  11. Abbasi F, Brown BW Jr, Lamendola C, McLaughlin T, Reaven GM. Relationship between obesity, insulin resistance, and coronary heart disease risk. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2002 Sep 4;40(5):937-43. doi: 10.1016/s0735-1097(02)02051-x. PMID: 12225719.
  13. Hamdy O, Porramatikul S, Al-Ozairi E. Metabolic obesity: the paradox between visceral and subcutaneous fat. Curr Diabetes Rev. 2006 Nov;2(4):367-73. doi: 10.2174/1573399810602040367. PMID: 18220642.

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