Weight management mythbusting
Registered dietitians often hear questions from friends, patients, family, and strangers regarding nutrition and diet. (It’s our job, right?) Nutrition is always evolving, and it can be difficult to sift through the information to know what you can trust. We did a little research to shed some light on a few of the most common nutrition fads and myths for weight management.
Myth: Intermittent fasting can jumpstart weight loss.
The idea behind intermittent fasting is that by stopping the body’s supply of energy from food, you will burn the excess fat stored in your body for energy. This absolutely occurs when you fast, but it also occurs when you reduce your caloric intake to an appropriate amount for weight loss.
Although intermittent fasting is gaining popularity, we don’t have enough research to support intermittent fasting as a general weight loss method. Most of the studies out there have been completed in animals, not humans.
The human population studies we do have demonstrate that intermittent fasting is no more effective for weight loss than caloric restriction. Evidence also shows that those who participate in intermittent fasting may overeat on the days and times they are eating and do not have any caloric restriction.1
Trusted weight management research recommends eating consistently throughout the day, reducing calories, increasing physical activity, and listening to hunger cues to achieve weight loss. Registered dietitians can calculate optimal caloric amounts based on individual weight loss goals.
Reducing caloric intake and lifestyle change is more sustainable in the long term than intermittent fasting. Individuals with diabetes or eating disorders and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not attempt intermittent fasting.
Myth: A ketogenic diet is the best approach to weight loss.
There continues to be emerging evidence for the benefits of the ketogenic diet in specific populations, such as those with epilepsy, pre-diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. However, for the general population looking for weight loss, keto is not the answer.
The ketogenic diet is a high fat, moderate protein, and low carb diet. Lots of the foods people enjoy and crave are carbohydrates. Carbs are also the body’s primary source for fuel. A balanced diet including appropriate proportions of macronutrients with caloric reduction and increased physical activity is a better, proven method for weight loss for most people.
The ketogenic diet is also very difficult to maintain for life and difficult to adopt as a new lifestyle. Once a person stops the ketogenic diet and goes back to consuming carbs, it is easy to gain back any weight that was lost. Registered dietitians can help design a balanced plan, including all of the macronutrients that fit one’s lifestyle.
Myth: Nutrition is “one size fits all.”
Everybody is different, and every body is different. Everyone has different nutritional needs, genetics, medical needs, and lifestyles. This means that what works for one person may not work for another. Dietitians are absolute pros when it comes to tailored nutrition advice. They are highly educated and specifically trained to confidently navigate all the factors that impact health.
Determining what nutrition information is accurate and should be followed can be difficult when so many voices are claiming to know the best way. Registered dietitians can help; they are the only nutrition experts and guide individuals to achieve their nutritional goals.
If you have more questions about weight management, it’s always a great idea to speak with a registered dietitian. Registered dietitians are the only credentialed experts qualified to address your unique health questions.
Gordon, B. What is Intermittent Fasting? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. May 7, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.eatright.org/health/weight-loss/fad-diets/what-is-intermittent-fasting
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