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Dr. Tim Says....

Weight Loss Myths (Part 2)

This article is the second in a series on Weight Loss Myths. Read Part 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

I hear a lot of patients say things about eating healthy and losing weight that are simply not true. For the next few weeks I am going to share some of these myths with you and the truth behind them.

Myth: The kinds of foods that you eat are more important than the amount you eat.

Truth: People will go out of their way to eliminate carbohydrates or fats completely from their diet. Most of the time they end up eating the same number of calories in other types of foods.

Calories are calories whether they come from fat or carbs. If you eat too many calories for the amount that you are going to burn, you will gain weight. Simple. It is the amount of food that you eat that is important.

Myth: Dairy products make you gain weight or help you lose weight.

Truth: Dairy products are pretty good for you, but like any food they have calories. The main issue is that many dairy products have a fair amount of fat. Choose non-fat or 1% milk if you drink milk. Most of recipes that call for milk work fine with either 1% or 2% milk. There are many excellent low-fat cheeses on the market as well.

I use non-fat yogurt for recipes as well as eating and there is excellent evidence that yogurt is very good for you. There are often a lot of added calories in flavored yogurt so check the label carefully.

Dairy products have lots of good quality protein as well as calcium. Most have been fortified with Vitamin D to help your body absorb the calcium. The low fat dairy products have essentially the same amounts of protein, Vitamins, carbohydrates and calcium as the high-fat choices.

Myth: You have to work out for 45 minutes at a time to get anything out of exercise.

Truth: I am not an expert in exercise physiology, but the research is clear that most people don’t get enough these days. There good studies that show even walking 30 minutes three times a week has tremendous benefit.

Ideally your target should be at least 30 minutes, 5 times a week. The good news is that breaking this up into two 15 minute segments works fine. That’s not much -- a couple of miles walking instead of a single sitcom on television. Walking is a lot more fun than watching the evening news and so much better for you. When you do exercise, try to work a little harder at it each time you do. Begin with a stroll for 30 minutes but within a month you can be up to a brisk walk.

Myth: Eating late at night or just before you go to bed makes you gain weight.

Truth: Calories are calories. Period. If you eat too many and don’t exercise enough, you will gain weight. Eating late and going to bed right afterwards simply doesn’t matter.

When you eat too much your body has an amazing ability to store the extra calories as fat. Eating later for most people generally means that they have eaten more calories than they need.