Get the facts about these common dieting misconceptions.

Losing weight is no easy task. To compound the problem, there are many misconceptions about losing weight. Following are some common myths and what the science actually says.

1. The best way to lose weight is to exercise more. There are many factors that affect weight besides how much you exercise, including your genetics, the environment, your hormones and your stress level and emotional state, just to name a few. Not to mention what and how much you eat. Most people don’t realize how few calories are actually burned by exercising. Exercise is one part of weight loss, but certainly not the only part.
2. All calories are created equal. A calorie is a measure of energy. All calories have the same energy content. But not all calories have the same effect on our weight. Our bodies process calories differently, which can have varying effects on our hunger hormones. Some calories are more filling. For example, consider the difference between an apple, which contains fiber, versus a glass of apple juice. Some calories raise our insulin levels and promote fat storage, others do not. Choose calories that have nutritional value.
3. Losing weight is a linear process. You may be doing the same thing every day and you may lose some weeks but gain the next. It is normal for the body to fluctuate a few pounds, depending on how much food is digesting in your system or how much water you are holding on to. As you lose weight and your body becomes smaller, you will require fewer calories to keep losing. As long as the general trend is down, you are losing weight.
4. Diet foods can help you lose weight. Low-fat, sugar-free or gluten-free foods may proclaim to be healthier, but they often have just as many calories and sometimes more, than the original product. Plus, artificial ingredients can hijack your taste buds, making whole, natural foods taste less appealing. Carefully read labels before believing the claims on the front of the package.
5. Certain foods make you burn more calories or speed up your metabolism. You’ve probably heard that you burn more calories eating celery than celery contains. This isn’t really true. No particular food or food group has been shown to speed up, or slow down, your metabolism.  
Losing weight is highly individualized; the diet that works for one person may not work for someone else. This has to do with the way each body metabolizes food and burns calories. It may take several different diets to find one that works for you. Adding exercise is important for many reasons, including burning a few extra calories. Be sure to choose an exercise or activity that you enjoy and are able to do regularly. Improvements in blood sugars and blood pressures start to occur with just a 10 percent weight loss. If you have a lot to lose, tackle it in small segments rather than focusing on a large number.
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