Dr. Fuhrman Dr. Fuhrman

Three stubborn weight loss myths

There are lots of weight loss myths. Most of them are obvious. Nobody really believes that if you just eat a certain type of vinegar, you can eat all you want and not gain weight, right?

Here I’ll discuss some more persistent myths that many people swear by.

Myth 1: Do not eat after eight (or six, or nine)

It does not matter when you eat, it matters how much you eat. The problem is that most people eat more than enough during the day, and then snack even more at night. Eating more calories than you burn, will cause you to gain weight, no matter when you eat those calories.

It is true that when you eat late at night, the scale may show a weight gain in the morning, but one of the first things you should learn about scales is that it is the global trend that counts, not an individual morning weighing.

I do now think that eating at night is not great for your health. Some people do not sleep well when they eat at night and mindless eating in front of the television cannot be good for you. But, at least, it will not make you fat. For me, being able to snack at night was one of the things that made the weight loss very doable.

Myth 2: Do not skip meals.

There is, again, a little truth in this, but most people take it too far. The problem with skipping meals is that you are likely to feel hungry after a while, and when it is not meal-time, you are likely to grab a snack. That is what causes weight gain, not the skipping of meals itself. However: if you ate a large piece of chocolate cake at a birthday party, and you are not really hungry anymore, it is totally OK to skip lunch, to compensate. Just regard the cake as your lunch for that day. Maybe eat dinner a little earlier, or eat a piece of fruit as an afternoon snack, if you do get hungry afterwards.

It is better not to graze all day, if you are trying to lose weight, because all those little things do add up. But do not force yourself to eat if you are not hungry, only because you are supposed to.

Myth 3: If you do not exercise for at least half an hour, you do not burn any calories.

Your body burns calories no matter what you do, even when you sleep. You want, of course, your body to burn more calories than usual. Even if you walk to the copy machine a few times more, you’ll burn a few extra calories. And over time, that does build up. Scientists agree.

March 9, 2006