There is no shortage of weight loss advice on the internet.
Although some weight loss tips can be helpful, others are just ineffective, misleading, or downright harmful.
In this article I’ll outline 7 weight loss tips that you should completely ignore.
1. Focus only on calorie intake
While many people still count calories to try to lose weight, it is well known in the nutrition world that not all calories are created equal.
The type of “food calories” you eat has a huge effect on hunger, appetite, and the hormones that control weight. In fact, these factors can affect your ability to achieve weight loss.
For instance, eating a 100-calorie pack of pretzels is not the same as eating 100 calories of grilled chicken. Pretzels are made of refined carbs, which can raise blood sugar levels, cause hunger, and lead to overeating. (1)
By contrast, getting the same number of calories from high protein rich food results in hormone changes that lead to increased fullness and reduced hunger. (2, 3)
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 food intake by 47 percent, on average. (9)
Furthermore, calorie counts on processed foods are often very misleading and quite inaccurate. (10)
2. Minimize foods high in natural fat
Despite popular opinion, not all fats are bad for your health, and avoiding all fatty foods won’t necessarily help you lose weight.
Although fat has twice as many calories as protein or carbs it’s also very filling and takes a long time to digest.
Standard low-fat diets, in which fat comprises of less than 30 percent of all calories, generally have a poorer track record than other diets, such as low carb diets, when it comes to weight loss. (11)
By contrast, eating or drinking fat-free or low-fat products in an attempt to cut calories could backfire, as many of these products are loaded with refined sugar.
While eating foods naturally high in healthy fat can work in your favor, putting a lot of added fat on your food is not helpful. Adding too much fat can increase calories to the point where you won’t lose weight.
3. Focus on cardio workouts
Cardiovascular exercise, also known as cardio or aerobic exercise, reduces your stress levels and benefits your heart and overall health. (16)
However, cardio is not be the best exercise strategy for losing weight.
Weight loss response to cardiovascular exercise depends greatly on the individual. Studies show that while some people lose weight in response to cardio, others either maintain or gain a slight amount of weight. (17, 18, 19)
4. Don’t weigh yourself every day
Your weight can fluctuate from day to day in response to several factors.
For this reason, many sources say you should avoid weighing yourself every day when trying to lose weight.
While this seems to make sense, for some people, the opposite may be true.
In a 6-month study on people with overweight or obesity, people who got on scale every day consumed fewer calories and lost nearly 7 percent of their body weight, on average, compared with people in the control group, who lost less than 1 percent of their body weight. (23)
In another study, researchers looking at the weighing habits of 40 people with overweight found that those who took breaks of longer than 1 month had a greater risk of weight gain. (24)
Frequently weighing yourself can provide accountability and confirm that your weight is trending in the right direction.
However, for some people, checking the scales frequently can become a source of anxiety. If you feel that it’s not good for your psychological health, it’s best to avoid this strategy.
It’s important to keep in mind that your weight can fluctuate daily. Hormonal changes, fluid balance, and bowel movement frequency can affect weight. These changes don’t reflect fat loss or gain.
5. 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 and keeping it off long-term.
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. (28, 29, 30)
One study found that people who lost weight quickly during the first month were five times as likely to have lost 10 percent of their body weight within 18 months, compared with those who started off losing weight more slowly. (31)
However, some weight loss methods are better than others. Cutting calories to extremely low levels may cause rapid weight loss in the beginning, but it’s unlikely to be sustainable.
6. Always eat breakfast, even if you’re not hungry
You may have heard that it’s important to eat breakfast to boost your metabolism after sleeping through the night.
As such, 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 ended up eating 144 more calories at lunch, compared with people who had eaten a morning meal. However, at the end of the day, their total calorie intake was still 408 calories lower. (35)
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. (37)
However, everyone is different, and some people reap more benefits from eating breakfast than others. The current thinking is that, if you’re not hungry in the morning, there’s no reason to eat breakfast.
7. Do juice cleanses
Juice cleanses, also known as juice fasts, are very popular.
Proponents claim you can lose up to 10 pounds in a week and rid your body of toxins.
However, there’s very little research showing that juice cleanses are safe or effective. (40)
In one study, women drank a lemon juice and syrup mixture with less than 500 calories for 7 days. They lost weight and reduced insulin resistance. (41)
Any diet this low in calories will cause weight loss, but it’s unlikely to produce any lasting results.
A major issue is that a cleanse doesn’t establish the type of healthy eating habits necessary for keeping up weight loss over the long haul.
Although everyone is unique and there are differences among individuals, certain recommendations for weight loss simply don’t work for the masses.