Diet Myths and Facts

  • Your Favorite Foods: Myth
    You can eat whatever you want and still lose weight.

    Fact: You need to burn more calories than you eat if you want to lose weight. You can still eat your favorite foods--as long as you pay attention to the total number of calories that you eat. Controlling portions is the key.

  • Help Yourself at Mealtime: Myth
    Skipping meals is a good way to lose weight.

    Fact: Studies show that people who skip breakfast tend to weigh more than people who eat a healthy breakfast. Possibly, that's because people who skip meals tend to feel hungrier later on and eat more than they normally would.

  • Fabulous Fads? Myth
    Fad diets help you lose weight permanently.

    Fact: Any popular diet plan that strictly limits either types of foods or total calories is not a good long-term solution. That's because people can't stick with this type of diet and often regain any lost weight when they give up. In order to lose weight and keep it off, you need to adopt permanent and "doable" healthy eating and physical activity habits.

  • A Weighty Matter: Myth
    Lifting weights will hurt your weight-loss effort, because it will make you "bulk up."

    Fact : Strengthening activities can actually help you maintain or lose weight. Examples include weightlifting, push-ups, and crunches. These activities can help you build muscle, and muscle burns more calories than body fat. Only intense strength training can build very large, "bulky" muscles.

  • The Dairy/Nut Debate: Myth
    Nuts and dairy products are fattening. You shouldn't eat them if you want to lose weight.

    Fact: Nuts are high in calories and fat, but they contain healthy fats that do not clog arteries. Plus, they are good sources of protein, dietary fiber, and minerals. And dairy products have many nutrients your body needs, like protein and calcium. Enjoy both of these foods in a healthy way: Limit nuts to three or four servings of 1/3 cup a week, and choose low-fat or fat-free dairy products.

  • Too Much Too Soon? Myth
    There's nothing unsafe about losing weight at a very rapid rate.

    Fact: Dropping more than 3 pounds per week over several weeks can result in gallstones and other health complications. And diets that cut calories to fewer than 800 per day can potentially cause heart rhythm abnormalities, which can be fatal. Research suggests that a safe and sustainable rate of weight loss should be no more than 1/2 to 2 pounds a week.

  • Natural = Safe: Myth
    Natural or herbal weight-loss products are safe and effective.

    Fact: These products are not usually scientifically tested, which means it's not proven that they are safe or that they work.

  • Late-Night Lowdown: Myth
    Eating after 8 p.m. causes weight gain.

    Fact: It doesn't matter what time of day you eat. What matters is what and how much you eat--and how much physical activity you do--during the whole day. That determines whether you gain, lose, or maintain your weight.

  • Keep It Off
    Experts and studies agree that eating healthy food in moderate portions and getting regular physical activity will help you lose weight and keep it off.

Diet Myths and Facts
  1. “Weight-Loss and Nutrition Myths—How Much Do You Really Know?” Weight-control Information Network, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, March 2009. (;
  2. “False Claims.” Red Flag Bogus Weight Loss Claims. Federal Trade Commission; accessed 2009. (;
  3. “Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; accessed 2009. (;
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Last Review Date: 2019 Jun 10
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