By the time we reach midlife, a lot of us are experts on diets for losing weight. We've tried dozens of plans, we can recite calorie counts of hundreds of foods by heart. In short, we're self-proclaimed authorities on how to lose weight safely. We have a whole system of beliefs about what makes us fat and what just might make us thin.
Here comes the New England Journal of Medicine to prove us wrong. They've just done a big study looking at myths and realities of weight loss. See how many of these myths you subscribe to (and should never believe again):
MYTH: Modest weight loss goals are best. For years, experts have been telling us to set a reachable goal – five or ten pounds – and then renew it to avoid getting discourages by setting a big goal that may seem impossible to achieve. The new study finds that people with ambitious goals — "I need to lose 60 pounds" — are more successful and drop more weight.
MYTH: Small changes add up to big results. You've probably heard it said that if you cut 100 calories from your daily diet, or walk a mile every day, by the end of a year, you'll have dropped 10 pounds. Little changes aren't bad, but as your body adapts to them, and maybe even loses a little bit of weight, it takes increasingly more exercise or less food to sustain that loss.
MYTH: Having sex burns up to 300 calories. Sadly, the truth is that 30 is more like it.
MYTH: Slow and steady weight loss is better than dropping pounds fast. Turns out, those who lose a lot of weight quickly tend to end up at a lower weight, even when they do regain.
MYTH: Snacking leads to weight gain. I would swear in court that this happens to me, but apparently there are no studies that support this belief. I suppose it all comes down to whether you consider a Ben & Jerry's pint the handy single serving contrainer.
MYTH: Be sure to eat breakfast if you want to lose weight. Several studies have found that skipping breakfast does not torpedo a weight loss plan.