When beginning any weight-loss program, it’s important to separate the good advice from the myths. Despite being well-intentioned, a lot of weight-loss myths have the potential to prevent more progress than they create.

Here are four myths about weight-loss that you’ve likely been told and should probably dismiss.

Eating less is the only way for you to lose weight

While this might make sense when you hear it, it’s not necessarily true. Luigi Gratton, M.D., M.P.H., Vice President, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Development at Herbalife says this is “Counter to what we do in Herbalife.” Rather than only reducing the amount of food you take in, Dr. Luigi suggests, “replacing and supplementing.”

“When dieting, it's not simply about eating less food. Rather it's about eating more nutrient-dense food,” Dr. Luigi says, “Nutrient dense simply means foods that are lower in fats, sugars, salts and higher in nutrients per calorie.”

What you’re eating is just as important as how much of it you’re eating.  As Dr. Luigi points out, “Anyone can reduce their portion of bad food but it's still bad food.”

Rather than simply reducing your overall food intake, try eating small amounts of healthy food, five to six times a day. Plan healthy snacks between your meals and shakes to keep your protein intake up, and your hunger down.

More exercise equals automatic weight loss

Often times, you will hear people say, “Just work out more and you’ll be fine!”  While it’s true that exercise is vital to any weight-loss program, it is not a license to eat whatever you want.

Exercise is an important component of any weight-loss program. However, what is equally as important is decreasing your caloric intake. Reducing the number of calories you consume while supplementing your diet with vitamins and minerals, makes your exercise more productive and burns calories.

“You can’t just eat pizza, hot dogs, and soda and then go walk for 30 minutes,” Dr. Luigi says, “You’re not going to lose weight, because the calories you’re consuming are way more than the calories that you’re burning.”

Dr. Luigi recommends getting your caloric intake below 3,000 calories a day. A caloric intake between 1,200 to 1,800 calories a day, depending on your size and body type, allows you to reach that point where you’re burning more calories than you’re taking in.

Reducing or eliminating carbs is the first step to losing weight

You hear it all the time. Carbohydrates are the enemy of weight loss, and eliminating as much of them as possible is the true path to losing weight.

Carbohydrates actually help stimulate hormones that store energy, insulin being one of them. This is how your body stores and uses the fuel you need to get through the day. Reducing the amount of carbohydrates you take in reduces the activity of insulin, reducing the stored energy you need to burn, thus helping you lose weight.

This is great, but your body still needs energy to live.

“The balanced diet,” Dr. Luigi says, “should include about 30% healthy fats, 40% healthy carbohydrates, and about 30% proteins.”

It’s important to pay attention to where your carbs are coming from; to be sure you’re receiving the good kind, which will fit into your weight-loss program. As healthier sources of carbs, Dr. Luigi recommends fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads, pastas, and nuts.

While a diet high in carbohydrates is not at all healthy, keeping the correct kind of carbs in your diet and in the right proportions is an important component in any effective weight-loss program.
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If I’m following a healthy diet, I don’t need vitamin supplements

This might make sense when you first hear it, but it’s another myth you’ll want to dismiss.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet that’s high in protein is important. At the same time, it’s equally as important to ensure you’re getting the vitamins and minerals you need.  This is because much of the food you’re eating, while still healthy, isn’t providing them.

“Most people don’t get enough micronutrients from the food we consume,” Dr. Luigi says, “So supplements can act as an insurance policy.”

This “insurance policy” can fill in the nutritional gaps left by an otherwise healthy diet.  Your diet can be high in protein, fiber, and beneficial carbohydrates, but still be leaving you deficient in vitamins and minerals.  Using that insurance policy of taking vitamins and minerals in addition to your healthy diet is how you can help ensure that your body is getting the complete nutrition it needs.

No matter how healthy your diet is, a good vitamin and mineral supplement is always key to balanced nutrition. 

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Separating what’s real from what’s myth is a big step toward crafting a truly effective weight-loss program. There’s no shortcut to weight loss, and no magic wand. Take the time to learn what makes a truly effective weight-loss plan, and dismiss the myths.