There is no shortage of weight loss advice on the internet.
Although some weight loss tips are good, others are useless or downright harmful.
Here are 8 weight loss tips that you should ignore completely.
1. Always Eat Breakfast, Even if Not Hungry
You may have heard that it’s important to eat breakfast in order to boost your metabolism after sleeping all night.
Because of this, many people force themselves to eat in the morning, even if they’re not hungry. However, eating breakfast isn’t necessarily beneficial for losing weight.
In one study, people who skipped breakfast did end up eating 140 calories more at lunch than people who’d eaten a morning meal. However, at the end of the day, their total calorie intake was still 400 calories lower (3).
The idea that eating breakfast is important for weight control may be partly due to a survey of National Weight Control Registry members who had lost weight and kept it off for at least 5 years. Most of these people said they ate breakfast regularly (5).
However, everyone is different and some people clearly do better eating breakfast than others. If you’re not hungry in the morning, then there’s no reason to eat.
Bottom Line: Eating breakfast in the morning doesn’t help you lose weight. Don’t eat in the morning unless you’re hungry, and eat a protein-rich breakfast if you are hungry.
2. Don’t Weigh Yourself Every Day
Your weight can fluctuate from day to day in response to several factors.
For this reason, people are often advised not to get on the scale every day when trying to lose weight.
While this seems to make sense, the opposite may actually be true.
In a six-month study, overweight and obese people who got on the scale every day took in fewer calories and lost an average of 10 lbs (4.5 kg) more than those who weighed themselves less frequently (11).
In another study, researchers looking at the weighing habits of 40 overweight people found that the more frequently participants weighed themselves, the more successful they were at losing weight (12).
It’s important to keep in mind that your weight can fluctuate from one day to the next due to hormonal changes and other factors that influence fluid balance, along with bowel movement frequency. These changes don’t reflect fat loss or gain.
However, weighing daily will provide accountability and confirm that your weight is trending in the right direction.
Bottom Line: Research suggests that frequent weighing actually helps you lose more weight, contrary to popular belief.
3. Do a Juice Cleanse
Juice cleanses, also known as juice fasts, are very popular.
Proponents claim you can lose up to 10 lbs (4.5 kg) in a week and rid your body of toxins.
But there is very little research to support the safety or effectiveness of juice cleanses (13).
Any diet this low in calories will cause weight loss, but it’s unlikely to produce lasting results. A major issue is that a cleanse doesn’t establish the type of healthy eating habits necessary for weight maintenance.
Bottom Line: A juice cleanse may cause fast weight loss, but it doesn’t promote the healthy habits necessary to keep the weight off.
4. Don’t Lose Weight Quickly
The conventional advice is to lose weight slowly so you’ll have a better chance of maintaining your lower weight.
While it’s certainly fine to lose weight slowly, the most recent research indicates that faster weight loss in the beginning does not increase the risk of weight regain. In fact, losing weight fast seems to be beneficial for long-term weight loss (18, 19, 20).
One study found that people who lost 1.5 lbs (0.7 kg) per week during the first month were five times as likely to have lost 10% of their body weight within 18 months as those who started off losing weight more slowly (20).
Bottom Line: Losing weight relatively quickly in the initial phase of a diet does not increase the risk of weight regain. It may actually lead to better results in the long-term.
5. Do Lots of Cardio
Cardiovascular exercise, also known as aerobic exercise, is excellent for your heart, stress reduction and overall health (21).
However, don’t depend on it to help you lose weight.
Some people lose weight in response to cardio, others maintain weight and others gain slightly (24).
Bottom Line: Intense cardio is healthy, but may not lead to weight loss. You should combine cardio and strength training for best results.
6. Minimize Foods High in Natural Fat
Avoiding all fatty foods when you’re trying to lose weight is a bad idea.
Standard low-fat diets, with fat under 30% of calories, generally have a poor track record when it comes to weight loss.
By contrast, consuming fat-free or low-fat products in an attempt to cut calories could backfire. Many of these products are loaded with refined sugar.
However, although eating foods naturally high in healthy fat can work in your favor, putting a lot of added fat on your food isn’t a good idea either. Adding too much fat can increase calories to the point where you won’t lose weight.
All this being said, diets that are ultra low in fat (less than 10% of calories) may have some benefits for weight loss.
Bottom Line: Avoiding unprocessed foods that are naturally high in fat is a bad idea. The standard low-fat diet has a poor track record for weight loss.
7. Eat Every 2–3 Hours
You may have heard that it’s best to eat many small meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism up. However, this is a myth.
Studies in people who consumed the same number of calories in two meals versus seven meals found no difference in calories burned between the two groups (34).
The main problem with snacking or eating several small meals is that you often end up consuming too many calories.
Bottom Line: It is a myth that eating many small meals boosts metabolism compared to eating fewer but larger meals. Increased eating frequency does not help you lose weight.
8. Focus on Calories Only
While a calorie deficit is needed for weight loss, calorie intake is only part of the story.
The type of food you eat has a huge impact on hunger, appetite and the hormones that control your weight.
These can affect your ability to achieve the required calorie deficit.
Finally, even if calories were the only thing that mattered, it’s very difficult to accurately gauge how many you’re eating. One study found that people with obesity underestimated their true caloric intake by 47%, on average (46).
Bottom Line: Calories are important, but food quality is just as important when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off.
9. Anything Else?
Although everyone is unique and there are differences among individuals, there are certain recommendations for weight loss that simply don’t work for most people.