Misconceptions about how to lose weight abound, especially on the Internet. Get the facts on shedding pounds now: Start by dispelling these 10 commonly held - but wholly inaccurate - notions.
Myth 1: Carbs spell trouble for dieters.
Fact: Carbohydrates are actually an important source of energy. Even so, that doesn't mean there's nothing to learn from low-carb diets. Carbs are not all created equal, and to help you Drop 5, you want to limit processed carbs such as white bread and croissants. Instead, enjoy beans and whole grains, such as brown rice and whole-wheat bread. And don't forget fruits and vegetables, which provide a host of nutrients and fiber, are low in calories, and can help reduce the risk of obesity and heart disease.
The body also uses carbs as fuel during exercise to burn body fat - another great reason to keep bread (and sandwiches!) on the menu.
Related: 11 Worst Foods for Your Health
Myth 2: Frozen fruits and vegetables are less nutritious than fresh ones.
Fact: That's true only if you live on a farm. Produce picked at the peak of ripeness does have more vitamins and minerals, but nutrient levels drop during shipping and storage. And they sink even further if you add the days that the produce lingers in your crisper. Frozen veggies and fruit, on the other hand, are usually picked ripe and immediately flash frozen, so they retain most of their nutrients. For calorie control, be sure to select frozen produce without added sugar, syrup, sauce, or cheese.
Myth 3: The cholesterol in eggs is bad for you.
Fact: One large egg has 213 milligrams cholesterol, and health experts suggest limiting dietary cholesterol to 300 milligrams a day or less (200 milligrams a day if you have heart disease, diabetes, or high LDL "bad" cholesterol). However, dietary cholesterol's effect on blood cholesterol is still a mystery, and studies suggest that saturated fat and trans fat may have a much bigger impact.
If you have cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or high LDL cholesterol, you should eat no more than 2 eggs per week, but you can have as many egg whites as you like (the cholesterol is in the yolk). Try products like Eggology On-the-Go Egg Whites (zap for 95 seconds in the microwave and presto - a scramble filled with 13 grams of hunger-sating protein) and Egg Beaters.
Myth 4: Skipping breakfast will help you lose weight.
Fact: Skipping meals can lead to weight gain. A recent British study that tracked 6,764 people found that breakfast skippers gained twice as much weight over the course of four years as breakfast eaters. Another research group analyzed government data on 4,200 adults. They found that women who ate breakfast tended to eat fewer calories over the course of the day.
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Myth 5: Eating the day's foods in certain combinations will help you slim down.
Fact: Seventy years ago, Good Housekeeping Research Institute experts declared this fad nonsense, and we say the same thing today. Almost all foods are combinations of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. In whole milk, for instance, about 20 percent of the calories are from protein, 50 percent from fat, and 30 percent from carbohydrates. The digestive system has no problem handling different types of food at the same time. If you do happen to shed pounds on a "food-combining" diet, it's simply because you're eating fewer calories overall.
Myth 6: Your genes determine your metabolism and body weight.
Fact: Only 25 percent of your body weight is determined by your genes - the rest is the result of your behavior. At any time in life, you can drastically change your body weight by combining low-calorie eating and exercise. And you can increase your metabolism at any age by performing strength and resistance exercises.
Related: Flatten Your Belly in 2 Weeks
Myth 7: You can spot-reduce to lose weight.
Fact: On the contrary, the way to achieve sleeker legs or a ﬂatter stomach, if that's where you're carrying your body fat, is to increase your lean muscle tissue throughout your body. By working all your muscles, you increase your metabolism. Up your metabolism and watch your eating, and you'll start looking the way you want to.
Myth 8: Early morning is the best time to exercise.
Fact: "The best time to exercise is anytime you can do it," says Samantha B. Cassetty, M.S., R.D., nutrition director at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute. You get the same payoffs and burn essentially the same number of calories whenever you work out. What's important is doing it regularly. Some studies have shown that ﬁrst-thing-in-the-morning exercisers are more likely to stick with a regimen than those who start late in the day, but that's because it's probably easier to postpone an evening workout until tomorrow. So whether you have more time or energy in the morning, afternoon, or at night, the important thing is that you do it.
Myth 9: Your body won't burn fat unless you exercise for more than 20 minutes.
Fact: You burn fat around the clock, whether you're exercising or not. For the biggest calorie burn, exercise as hard as you comfortably can (you should still be able to carry on a conversation) for as long as you can.
Related: 100 Ways to Fight Flab
Myth 10: It's best to starve yourself before an event.
Fact: This plan will backﬁre because you'll use the "I haven't eaten all day" excuse to stuff yourself when you arrive. Instead, save calories for a party by cutting back slightly at each meal for several days beforehand. Then, make the best use of your calorie allotment. For extra weight-loss insurance, increase your activity a few days before and after a big event.