There are many misconceptions surrounding weight management which can make it difficult to know what works and what doesn’t. Dr. Melissa Scull, an obesity medicine specialist at Southern New Hampshire Weight Management, and Patricia Hunter, a registered dietician at Southern New Hampshire Health, dig into some common myths to reveal what can really help you achieve your weight loss goals.
Myth: Carbs are the enemy of weight loss.
Dr. Scull: “It is more helpful to try to improve the average quality of carbohydrates consumed than it is to eliminate carbohydrates as much as possible. Foods higher in ‘simple’ carbohydrates are those that are more processed such as chips, pasta, white bread, and sweets. These are more likely to raise blood sugars, and more likely to cause cravings and lead to overeating. Foods higher in ‘complex’ carbohydrates can be more filling, have more fiber, and have less of an effect on blood sugars and cravings.”
Hunter: “Carbohydrates are not the enemy; they are part of a balanced plate that provides our bodies with the nutrients needed to function properly while helping us manage our calorie intake. Nutrient dense foods are typically whole, unprocessed, or minimally processed foods that provide a wide range of nutrients without excessive calories. Examples are fruits and vegetables, lean protein rich foods, whole grains such as oatmeal and quinoa, and low-fat dairy products.”
Myth: You can lose weight by only doing cardio.
Dr. Scull: “Exercise has many mental and physical health benefits, but it is more likely to improve muscle mass and cardiovascular health than it is to lead to weight loss. It is an important component of weight management because of these health benefits, and because those who exercise regularly are less likely to regain weight they have lost.”
Hunter: “In combination with a healthy eating plan that results in even small weight loss does result in big benefits. The Diabetes Prevention Program is an excellent example of the effect of combination of healthy diet and exercise on lowering blood sugars, and protecting development of diabetes and is linked to better kidney and vascular function.”
Myth: Weight loss is all about willpower.
Dr. Scull: “In studies, individuals with obesity tend to have higher hunger hormones and lower fullness hormones than those without obesity. This suggests it is not a matter of willpower, as much as it is a difference in biological drive to eat. Our environment is also strongly obesogenic, from endless choices of inexpensive processed foods to sedentary jobs, and automobile transportation. Lastly, those with obesity have often lost and regained weight multiple times over their lives. This has negative effects on metabolism, making it easier to regain the weight that was lost, and then some – especially without treatment to help with sustained weight loss.”
Hunter: “It’s not a matter of willpower. Many forces impact our weight loss journey and the ability for us to exercise regularly. Developing realistic strategies to deal with challenges that are tailored to each patients’ unique circumstances can result in sustainable weight loss.”
Melissa Scull, MD is an obesity medicine specialist and is board certified in internal medicine and obesity medicine. She is currently accepting new patients.
Patricia Hunter MA, RD, CDCES earned her nutrition degree from Framingham State University, where she also holds a master’s degree in health care administration. She has been a certified diabetes care and education specialist since 2011.