Weight Loss Tips and the Lies They Tell

weight loss

Not many dieters realize how flawed and inconsistent the nutrition field really is. It seems like a brand new fad diet is coming out each week, promising concrete results based on the latest greatest studies. But many of these weight loss tips really tell and spread white lies based on half-truths or incomplete data. It is not necessarily the dietitians’ and researchers’ fault; however, the findings are oftentimes but a tiny cog in understanding of the infinitely complex machinery that is the human body.

Take the latest finding trending around the internet – a new study that disproves the long-held idea that skipping breakfast is bad for one’s health. How many times have the dietitians advised to always eat a fulfilling meal in the morning? It gives the energy to carry through the day, it kick-starts the metabolism, and it prevents over-eating during lunch time. Until, as it turns out, it no longer does.

Consider good old kale, a super vegetable with an endless list of beneficial effects, from lowering cholesterol all the way to preventing cancer. Except recent studies are finding that the “magical super food” can actually have devastating effects on the thyroid when eaten in huge portions. And like most leafy greens, it is not difficult to overdo it, especially when following the detoxifying juicing trend.

Eggs are an opposite example – for years dietitians have cautioned about their high cholesterol, dutifully recommending no more than two a day. As further research has shown, there are two kinds of cholesterol: one that is good for the body, and one that is produced entirely by the liver, not the food ingested. Amazingly, the egg stigma has been removed, and the American populace can go back without guilt to their favorite morning bacon-laden indulgence.

Exercise regimes, as well, have often proven questionable. CrossFit, the latest greatest fad, has been linked to rhabdomyolysis, a very serious condition where the muscles in the body become so over-strained they practically disintegrate, resulting in the proverbial noodle arms. But as funny as the imagery might be, the condition is potentially deadly if left untreated.

There are many more examples, from the low-fat craze to the questionable fear of carbs and salt. The only thing that seems to stay consistent in nutrition and diet trends is how inconsistent and contradictory they often are. What is a super food one day, turns out to be the bane of the stomach the next, and vice-versa.  This often leads to the disgruntled feeling that many of the weight loss tips really just tell lies or misconceptions. Facts could be disproven any day. Why is the nutritional knowledge so volatile?

weight loss In part, it comes down to the nature of scientific discovery and the complexity of human bodies. Science has always been an iterative process, with new findings building on the previous research, and sometimes even disproving it. People used to believe the Earth was flat, after all. Now, they believe that a certain evil ingredient or nutrient is the sole reason for lack of weight loss results. A convenient scapegoat is always good for relieving the troubled conscience. It does not help that the media loves to jump on the latest nutritional findings, often blowing them out of proportion. Little consideration is given to the sampling size or statistical significance of the studies. And so, what often requires more research, quickly gets elevated to the status of a fact.

Another reason why weight loss studies are sometimes so inconsistent is the huge stake many of the food manufacturers have in nutrition politics. Monsanto, branding itself as a “sustainable agricultural manufacturer” has poured billions of dollars into researching and promoting genetically modified foods. However, little consideration is given to the fact their long-term effects on humans are unknown (thought, what most anti-GMO armchair proponents do not want to admit, it does not mean they are necessarily bad – just not yet fully understood). As another example, one of the PepsiCo board members has recently become the president of the Institute of Medicine, a research source sometimes used by government bodies such as the FDA or CDC.

Conflicts of interest are clearly issues in these cases. While it does not mean these companies would try to fabricate any nutritional data, they would most definitely promote those studies favoring their products, while stripping funding from those that do not. Looking at their research shows this very trend – how many studies has PepsiCo published that show their sugar-laden drinks are anything but healthy?

The lesson to be taken here is simple – while dieting tips are often founded on actual research, the research is not always concrete proof and may require further studies. Like the low-fat trend or the fear of eggs have shown, any of the so-called nutritional facts could be disproven any day. Some findings, despite needing more trials, get hailed as breakthroughs thanks to the media prying for a good story and the powerful food companies guarding their best interests. Business is, after all, business.

Indirectly, many weight loss tips perpetuate and tell lies or misunderstandings stemming from the lack of proper understanding of the scientific process and the human body. There are also the recent studies, touted by the fat acceptance movement, claiming the body has a natural set weight point. In this theory, the body will always gravitate towards a certain genetically predetermined weight, speeding or slowing down metabolism and appetite accordingly. If true, the entire dieting effort may be in vain, at least not without endless self-deprivation. But like most other research and nutritional findings, it is just a theory. Because no one really knows for sure how the human body actually works.

Opinion by Jakub Kasztalski

WBur Common Health
Ask Men
Gastroenterology Journal
Fat Nutritionist

3 Responses to "Weight Loss Tips and the Lies They Tell"

  1. Caroline Cannon   June 17, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Lots of great information. I’m graduating college this year at 254 pounds, even though I’m only 5′ 2″. My greatest weight gain hit me hardest in these last few years, and I’ve been battling depression ever since. On top of it all, I’ve been dealing with high blood pressure, lots of joint pain, and chronic respiratory distress, including sleep apnea. The full impact of my condition didn’t really hit me until my fiancé had to start waking me up every night so I could start breathing again. It was frightening for both of us.
    I had to get healthy, but because I refuse to do surgery I started walking every single day and totally changed my diet. Lots of green, leafy veggies and lean meats, and no more processed carbs. I won’t lie, it has not been easy, but it has to happen. After the first 5 weeks and losing 33 pounds I started to feel like I could really do it.
    After lots and lots of research, I eventually added pure supplements to help boost my efforts. The best natural supplements I found for the money were Pure Green Coffee Bean Extract and Garcinia Cambogia Complex, both from Vivisani Labs (best price I found was on Amazon. They don’t add calcium to the Garcinia so it maintains its fat burning capabilities and appetite suppression, and they both help increase my natural energy levels so I can get my day started and boost my metabolism. I don’t have nearly the cravings to binge or even snack anymore.
    Adding the above supplements help me lose another 38 pounds over the course of a few weeks. I’m feeling really psyched now and I’ve stepped up my exercise routine. I’m now walking several miles a day. I still have another 53 pounds to reach my target weight of 130 pounds and I feel like I can actually get there! This has become such a dream come true.

  2. martiliebowitz   June 9, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    It can be very confusing, certainly, and I have found it leads to frustration. On one hand, the latest and greatest studies or trends can give people hope. Here is something new they haven’t tried yet and that can provide the motivation or boost necessary to kick start a new health program. On the other hand, contradictory information can be very overwhelming and when the shiny new theory doesn’t work out people tend to throw their hands up in frustration to the point where they go back to their old unhealthy habits because they feel that “Nothing will work.”

  3. TiSecret CB   June 9, 2014 at 8:02 am

    Thank you for pointing out that things promoted or advised in the diet industry may not always be entirely correct.

    I also came across articles about the study that seemed to disprove that skipping breakfast does not necessarily mean weight gain. They apparently found that there did not seem to be much of a difference in weight loss between someone who skips breakfast and someone who eats it. However, eating breakfast may still give energy and help her burn calories.

    I hope that a lot of similar studies about beliefs that are perceived as truths are made to perhaps give more understanding of the subject of weight loss.


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