Motivation to lose weight often comes from external events such as an upcoming wedding or holiday. But being a healthy weight is extremely beneficial for our health. A healthy weight reduces the risk of 11 common cancers, heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Although rapid weight loss might sound desirable, it is often unsustainable and can be unhealthy. It is important that, while losing weight, our diets are balanced and provide us with all the nutrients we need. Here we look at some common dieting myths.

Common dieting myths

Food restrictions and skipping meals

Skipping meals can lead to people feeling low in energy, and may cause them to crave high-calorie foods. Skipping meals also raises the potential for nutritional deficiencies. This type of diet is too hard to maintain in the long-term and can result in later weight gain.

Certain foods help you burn fat

No food can actually burn fat. The important thing is to eat fewer calories than you use up. Basing diets on low-calorie foods such a vegetables, fruit and wholegrains will help people lower their calorie intake.

Carbohydrates are fattening

Gram for gram, carbohydrate contains less than half the calories of fat. However, carbohydrate-rich meals can be high in energy because of high-calorie toppings or large portion sizes. People should aim to eat two portions of wholegrain starchy carbohydrates at each meal; this is equivalent to two medium slices of bread or four new potatoes.

No snacking

Eating healthy snacks between meals can actually help you to control your appetite. Vegetables, fruit and low-fat yoghurt are great choices.

Low-fat only

A claim that a food is low in fat may only be made where the product contains no more than 3g of fat per 100g.1 But some low-fat foods may contain high levels of sugar (more than 22.5g per 100g or >27g per portion) so it’s important to check nutrition labels.

A healthy way to lose weight

There is no quick fix when it comes to losing weight; the healthiest and most effective way is through a balanced diet and physical activity.

Gradual weight loss is more sustainable. A safe rate of weight loss is between 0.5kg to 1kg (1lb to 2lb) each week. For a typical man, this means sticking to a calorie limit of no more than about 1,900kcal a day, and 1,400kcal for a typical woman.2

The British Dietetic Association reviewed the most common diet regimes for 2017 and found that Weight Watchers and Rosemary Conley were best for sustainable weight loss.

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  1. NHS Choices. Food labelling terms. 2015. 
  2. NHS Choices. Top diets review for 2017.