Weight Loss Myths: 10 Biggest Misconceptions

Jenna Hilton
May 21, 2024

Currently, the number of people in the world who are obese or overweight is greater than the number of those who are underweight. And this growth trend is not showing signs of abating. These distressing figures explain the public’s unwavering interest in weight loss strategies. The internet and other media diligently deliver what the public wants: old and new tips on losing weight, “scientifically-backed” advice, and weight-loss product recommendations from experts.

However, medical professionals warn that much of the weight loss advice we see in the media is false or only partially true.

This article tackles popular weight loss myths, explains the reasoning behind each, and tells you how to effectively approach the problem of excess weight.

Weight loss myths

10 Common Weight Loss Myths Debunked

Many of the following weight-loss misconceptions are popular because they give hope of an “easy fix” for a difficult problem. Here are ten common weight loss myths that explain why so many of us struggle to lose weight.

Myth 1: Fad Diets Work

The greatest false idea you can have as you start your weight loss journey is the belief that you can lose weight quickly. The desire to look good fast prompts people to go on meal plans promising to help decrease a certain amount of weight in an unreasonable amount of time. They are called fad diets. Examples include cutting out whole food groups, replacing solid food with liquids, and focusing only on one food. One-food-focused diets entail eating mostly one prescribed item, i.e., cabbage soup or boiled eggs, and they result in a 5-15 pounds loss in only a few days.

Though some people who go on fad diets achieve their goals, the results are short-lived. The body craves the nutrients it needs for proper functioning, leading to a relapse that brings back all the lost weight and usually adds more pounds.

Fad diets are overly restrictive, stripping the body of essential nutrients, causing frequent sugar spikes in the blood, and leading to more weight gain, hormonal imbalances, and potential health issues. They are not rooted in science and generally cause more harm than good.

Note: Learn more about fad diets, how to recognize them, and what risks they carry.

Weight loss myth - avoiding carbs

Myth 2: Carbs Are the Enemy

One of the most widespread weight-loss myths is that carbohydrates are fattening and should be avoided at all costs. It is true that a diet high in refined carbs, such as sugary foods and drinks, pizzas, burgers, and French fries, is a sure way to gain weight quickly. However, carbohydrates also make up much of what we call “healthy foods,” including whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. When our digestive system breaks down these complex carbohydrates, glucose enters our cells, giving them energy to do their work. Glucose is the primary fuel for the proper functioning of our bodies.

Some diets, such as the Keto diet, focus on eliminating most carbs from our system and teaching our cells to use fat as fuel instead of the preferred carbs. This puts a lot of pressure on the kidneys to process far more fats and protein than recommended. It also eliminates fiber from your diet, increasing the risk of nutrient deficiencies, constipation, and other health issues.

Healthy carbs from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables actually help keep you satiated for longer and may aid in weight loss. Instead of going on carb-free diets, choose your carbohydrates wisely and incorporate them in a healthy, balanced meal program.

Myth 3: Skipping Breakfast for Weight Loss

Skipping breakfast is a popular option for many who want to shed extra pounds. While some research shows this habit increases the risk of severe diseases, other suggests it may improve certain health risk factors. In any case, missing breakfast doesn’t contribute to weight loss. It can increase pangs of hunger later in the day, causing people to ingest more calories than they would.

For people who are not hungry in the morning, skipping breakfast prolongs the period without food as part of intermittent fasting. However, doing this to cut calories and accelerate weight loss, especially for people who are hungry in the morning, is not an effective strategy. Some studies suggest skipping breakfast may even contribute to weight gain.

Myth 4: Ingredients That “Melt” Fat

Many overweight people fall for catchy titles in online media promoting ingredients that “melt fat.” These include lemon water, celery juice, apple cider, green tea, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, and more. Celebrities often share how certain ingredients help them burn fat and look good, making their fans enthusiastic about using them as well.

No scientific evidence supports the claims that any of these ingredients on their own significantly shrink fat cells. They may indirectly and minimally support weight loss by helping to lower blood sugar levels, balance certain hormones, and increase satiety. Therefore, they can only be an addition to a balanced diet.

Counting calories for weight loss

Myth 5: Counting Calories

The basic, non-negotiable principle of weight loss is to consume fewer calories than you expend. That part of the “calorie counting” myth is true. However, many people believe that all calories are created equal and that they only need to ensure their daily calorie intake doesn’t exceed a recommended amount for weight loss (e.g., 1500 kcal).

One 3.5 oz chocolate bar has approximately the same number of calories (600 kcal) as grilled tuna with bean and tomato salad. One 8-oz bag of potato chips has twice the amount (1,200 kcal). If you eat one chocolate and one bag of chips, you have already consumed the total daily caloric value you need to maintain optimal weight. If you also have that tuna and salad, you’ll gain weight.

When you eat calorie-dense instead of nutrient-dense meals, the body craves more food to compensate for the lack of nutrients. This is why many people end up eating twice or three times more calories than their daily value, which leads to more weight gain. In addition to increased weight, they also frequently develop health issues due to nutrient deficiencies.

Myth 6: Exercise Only

Exercise, along with a balanced diet, is the pillar of health. Vast evidence proves its beneficial effects on various health markers. However, when it comes to weight loss, on its own, exercise has a minimal effect. People who continue to eat large amounts of refined sugars and processed foods, can’t burn those calories with exercise.

Depending on the person’s weight and speed, an hour of jogging burns approximately 400-700 calories. The same goes for swimming and aerobic activity. Riding a bicycle, walking, and weightlifting burn less. This means that an hour of high-intensity training daily is required to burn the calories from one 3.5-oz chocolate. For many people, that is an unrealistic goal. Furthermore, many people consume more than one chocolate bar’s worth of extra calories per day.

Exercise enhances dopamine release, improves mood, and helps people adopt healthier lifestyles, including balanced nutrition, but it is only one piece of the weight-loss puzzle.

Exercise for weight loss

Myth 7: Intermittent Fasting as the Magic Bullet

Intermittent fasting has become popular in the past decade. This eating practice involves eating and drinking during a set time window and fasting for the rest of the period. Popular intervals include:

  • 8/16 - Eating for eight hours, fasting for 16 hours.
  • 12/12 - Eating and fasting for 12 hours each.
  • 5:2 - Five days of regular and two days of restricted eating.

When it comes to intermittent fasting for weight loss, studies show inconsistent results. Some suggest the method may encourage weight loss, while others don’t show any difference between intermittent eating and other weight-loss approaches.

It may help people who tend to snack at night, putting a clear ban on their unwelcome habit. However, time-restricted eating only works if the calories consumed during the eating time window do not exceed the number of calories burned during the day.

Myth 8: Beverages Don’t Affect Weight

Overweight people are often unaware of how much weight they put on only by drinking sugary beverages daily. These include soft drinks, coffee with sugar and cream, alcoholic beverages, and even smoothies. A glass of each adds at least 100 kcal to the daily calories, and often more.

To jumpstart your weight-loss journey, eliminate added calories from beverages and go for healthier options – coffee and herbal teas without sugar, smoothies with low-calorie fruits and vegetables (and without additional flavor enhancers, such as peanut butter), and water with lemon and cucumbers.

Myth 9: Supplements Can Do Magic

Dietary supplements that promise impressive weight-loss results are not backed by science. Products that healthcare providers sometimes recommend usually have a modest effect on weight loss, but they help regulate other health factors hindering weight loss.

For example, chromium is said to reduce cravings, increase lean muscle mass, and promote fat loss. Green tea is shown to reduce fat absorption, potentially aiding weight loss. Carnitine increases fatty acid oxidation, with a modest effect on weight. Other common ingredients in supplements for weight loss show promise, but current evidence is limited.

Doctors who prescribe dietary supplements to overweight patients emphasize their role as support to other necessary weight-loss strategies, including decreased food intake, balanced nutrition, and regular exercise.

Note: Learn about the most effective weight-loss products to date and how to take them.

Supplements for weight loss

Myth 10: Weight Loss as an Aesthetic Goal

Our appearance-focused mindset is perhaps the biggest obstacle to reaching and maintaining a desired weight. Most people want to lose weight to look good, and they want quick results. The inherent slow progression of weight reduction clashes with the patient’s desires, and the frustration often leads to more food intake and weight gain.

Understanding that optimal weight is primarily about good health, maintained with permanently balanced nutrition and regular physical activity, yields better and more long-lived results.

Note: If you need help creating a strategy for sustainable weight loss, check out our customized medical weight-loss programs. They are tailored to each patient based on their unique health condition and goals.


Many overweight people struggle to shed excess pounds because they continue to cling to deeply rooted weight-loss myths that don’t lead to sustainable results. The best approach is to unlearn most of the advice we see every day in the media and prepare for a life-long change in habits that will eventually lead to weight loss.

Our medical weight loss experts at Vibrant Vitality Clinic can help you get started.

Jenna Hilton
Jenna Hilton has been a practicing PA since 2009, specializing in Family, Internal Medicine and Medical Aesthetics. She attended Arizona State University where she received her Bachelor's Degree and graduated magna cum laude. She received her Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies from A.T. Still University.

Jenna has been injecting neurotoxin and dermal filler since 2013. She received certification as a Master Injector in 2017 through Empire Medical in Los Angeles, California. She is currently working on a Fellowship Program in Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine through the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. Her special interests include use of PLLA, Ablative/Non ablative skin resurfacing, PDO threads, hormone therapy and nutritional therapies to improve cellular regeneration and medically supervised weight loss.

Jenna Hilton believes in a multi-factorial approach, considering internal factors that accelerate aging and disease development. She always enjoys teaching. She co-founded Vibrant EDU courses at Vibrant Skin Bar and regularly performs one-on-one training with fellow injectors. She teaches Aesthetic and Advanced Injectable Courses at National Laser Institute. She has been named Preceptor of the Year and is an Adjunct Faculty Member at Midwestern University. She was born in Iowa, and lives with her husband and three children in Phoenix, AZ.

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