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5 Weight Loss Myths

Get the scoop -- and the truth -- behind 5 common weight loss misconceptions.
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

No matter how well you follow your diet or fitness routine, there is usually some cheating and lying involved -- and not just fibs you tell about what you're really eating when no one is looking. Most of us have tried at least one quick fix to drop weight for good -- fasting, or eliminating certain foods and nutrients from our diets -- only to gain the weight back, often packing on even more pounds. Unfortunately, myths about how you can lose weight can sabotage even the healthiest relationship between you and your treadmill.

It's a great rule of thumb to be suspicious of quick and easy weight loss solutions. "The biggest misconception is that doing something in the short term will have long-term results," says Elaine Magee, the "Recipe Doctor" for the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic. While you may want a magic bullet more than anything, fad and gimmicks can actually do more harm than good when it comes to losing and maintaining your weight.

That's why we've enlisted two registered dietitians -- Magee and Elizabeth Pivonka, PhD, RD, president of the Produce for Better Health Foundation -- to come up with a list of lies so you can battle the bulge armed with the truth.

Myth: Snacking Is Always a Bad Idea

The good news is you don't need to starve to lose weight. "The idea that you shouldn't eat between meals is a myth," says Pivonka. When you're stomach starts rumbling, you probably hear a little voice in your head telling you not to ruin your appetite. But having snacks in between meals might actually help you eat less, and stave off the urge to overeat or binge later. In fact, dietitians often recommend that you have five smaller meals a day, instead of eating your calories all in one sitting.

One of the main reasons snacking has a bad rap is because of the choices we make from, say, vending machine that are packed with chips, cookies, candies, and other delectable -- and fattening -- treats. The good news is we're not all chomping on candy bars come 4 p.m. -- a whopping 70% of Americans use snacking as a way to incorporate fruits and vegetables into their diets, according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation.

If you tend to dive into a bag of chips when you're hungry, try having nutritious foods instead --think moderate amounts of fruits, vegetables, and nuts, for example -- and try to eat things you don't normally have during mealtime. Magee, who isn't a big milk drinker, uses snacks as a way to get her daily dose of calcium from low-fat cheese and yogurt.

Myth: No More Fast Food

Maybe the double cheeseburgers, fries, sodas, and apple pies are out, but Magee says you don't have to ditch fast food all together to stay on your diet. "It's part of our culture. I embrace it," she says. "I just lead people to make better choices in that arena."

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