Top Weight Loss Myths

  •   Danielle L’Ami

Every year many of us go through the annual effort of weight loss after the holidays. Here’s what you need to know and what you can do differently.

Female having sandwich

We are all guilty of making New Year’s resolutions but then struggling to keep them, especially in the area of weight loss. The sad reality is approximately 41% of us are likely to struggle to meet our weight loss goal. However, the reason is many people keep trying a new twist on an old  diet myth.

Some myths, no matter how often they are debunked, still linger as truth, such as dogs can only see in black in white. There are other lines of thought that many people don’t even realize are myths, such as the following four.

  • Weight loss happens when you consume fewer calories than you burn
  • You can exercise away bad food
  • You can catch up on lost sleep, and your weight loss won’t suffer
  • There is a magic pill for weight loss

Myth One: Weight Loss is All About Calories-In Versus Calories-Out

This is an old myth that continues to persist where you can lose weight as long as you burn more than you eat. However the reason this is a myth is because the way your body processes the different macronutrients (protein, fat, carbs) are different and very individual.  

For example, if you consume 1500 calories worth of junk food, such as chips, pop, fried foods, etc. chances are you aren’t going to lose weight because these turn into glucose very quickly and cause a steep insulin spike which can lead to weight gain.  Additionally, these highly processed foods cause epigenetic changes in our body and speed up your aging process. In contrast, if you consume 1500 calories of high quality protein (at least 30g) moderate fat and vegetables and  vitamins and minerals, your body is more efficient as you are meeting all of your nutrient requirements. 

This is also because the foods that we consume have a great impact on our hormones, metabolism, and more. And that high fiber and protein meal we just ate, does a much better job at helping us to feel full longer compared to all those nutrient-empty chips and pop.

It is also important to take into account your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Knowing your BMR can help you decide on how many calories you can consume without doing anything extra, such as exercise. It shows how many calories you burn throughout an average day.

You can calculate this by using the Harris-Benedict Formula, then adjust it based on your lifestyle, from sedentary to extra active. If you aren’t interested in exercising, or can’t for health reasons, we suggest you take a look at our post on 7 easy weight loss without exercise tips.

And while it is possible to lose weight without exercise, some try to do the opposite and have a bad diet that they try and exercise themselves out of. This takes us directly to our second myth, that exercise can magically fix a bad diet. 

Remember, your abs are made in the kitchen. You sculpt them with your workout.

Myth Two: You Can Exercise Yourself Out of a Bad Diet

The reality is that most of us live a sedentary lifestyle. To burn a lot of calories, we have to actively invest in moving our bodies. Some like to run, others take a class at the gym, or many like to go for daily walks.

But doing this, on top of a busy life filled with work, commuting, raising a family, activities of daily living, and more is a time-consuming commitment. Furthermore, if your diet is full of unhealthy, processed foods, then it doesn’t matter the amount of exercise you put in; you aren’t going to lose weight.

According to, to have the best shot at being successful with weight loss is to balance diet and exercise together. The sweet spot is the 80/20 rule. That is, 80% focused on your diet and 20% focused on your preferred exercise.

Healthline further explains how this would work if someone wants to cut 500 calories from their diet every day. To do so, they could choose to eliminate 400 calories by eating lower-calorie dishes, fewer snacks, and having smaller portion sizes. This would cover the 80% part.

In making these changes they would only be required to burn 100 calories from exercise, the 20%, and is much more manageable to do with a busy schedule. Those who try to burn all 500 calories through exercise will find it is much harder on the body and is often not sustainable long-term.

One way to focus more on a healthier diet is to pay attention to how your body feels eating whole foods versus processed foods. If you want to know more check out our post on processed foods versus whole foods here.

That said, don’t discount the importance of exercise. Regular cardio exercise such as cycling or running, moving your body through dance or yoga, can all help to lower your risk for heart disease and your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Yet even regular exercise and a healthy diet aren’t enough if you aren’t getting adequate sleep.

Myth Three: Poor Sleep Habits Don’t Affect Weight Loss 

If you are working around the clock and getting less than seven hours of sleep but think that you can catch up on this lost sleep, think again. According to, 35% of American adults are getting less than seven hours of sleep and it is affecting their ability to successfully lose weight.

Yet adequate sleep is even more powerful for your health than just weight loss. From improving your productivity to lowering your risk for heart disease to fighting against depression, high quality sleep can be the proverbial thing that moves the needle for your health.

While we can gain some benefits back from taking a nap, as seen in our health benefits of napping post here, naps require time that many of us don’t have. Not to mention that they don’t replace the consistent lack of sleep many of us face, otherwise known as sleep debt.

To help get a better night’s sleep, and aid in having more success at losing weight this New Year, try the following tips.  

  • Eliminate screen time from phones and tablets before bedtime
  • Move your body daily
  • Avoid alcohol and food at least 3 hours before bed
  • Avoid caffeine before bed and reduce amounts during the day
  • Create a healthy sleep environment, including a dark room, cooler temperature, fresh linens, white noise, and relaxing smells such as a lavender spray

The importance of getting a good night’s sleep goes beyond improving our productivity. Insufficient sleep destroys any efforts to lose weight. In fact, according to a study by the American College of Physicians, less sleep can have detrimental results. 

The study demonstrated how 10 overweight Americans were given a restrictive diet for 14 days. Then they divided up the group into time spent sleeping. Those who slept 5.5 hours per night lost 55% less fat and also lost 60% more muscle mass. 

Conversely, those who received 8.5 hours of sleep lost 55% more fat and preserved 60% more muscle mass. This clearly shows how important sleep is for our weight loss efforts. But if you think you can simply take a magic pill to help with this, this too is a myth.

Myth Four: There is a Magic Pill for Weight Loss

Are there supplements or foods we can take that will help with weight loss? Technically, yes. Studies have shown that there are a variety of supplements that help in different ways. Green tea, for example, reduces fat absorption while  whey protein has a moderate effect on reducing  appetite levels.

Further to this, capsaicin has shown a low impact on energy expenditure modulation, that is the balance of energy intake and expenditure by the brain. And the list goes on with foods such as flaxseed showing the capability to impact fat metabolism.

But expecting there to be a single pill such as advertised in late-night infomercials as your answer to all your weight loss woes simply isn’t true. Weight loss success requires more than simply taking a pill and hoping for the best.

Key Takeaways

If we want to be successful in our weight loss journey, we must use the above weight loss success tips to avoid the trap these myths keep us in. First, remember to learn your BMR,  to help you determine the right amount of calories you need to consume to lose weight.

Next, focus on nutrient-dense, protein rich foods to help balance your hormones, regulate your metabolism, and keep you full for longer. If you find yourself struggling with an unhealthy diet, exercise will not undo the damage caused.

Instead, finding a balance between eating healthy and maintaining a sustainable exercise routine is your best route. Recall the 80/20 rule, 80 % focus on food, and 20% on diet. And don’t forget to get enough sleep, so that all the effort you put in doesn’t go to waste.

Lastly, there is no magic pill. While some foods and supplements can help in small ways, the only true way is to put the effort in. Make sure you are eating right, moving every day, and getting a minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night and you will rise above these weight loss myths to weight loss success. 

Bonus Takeaway

Rather than try the same old thing and expect different and better results. Consider trying something new. At My Toolbox Genomics we’re currently offering a free consultation with our very own Dr. Erika Gray to help you jump start your effort. In addition and at this writing, we’re currently offering 20% off a second kit. The idea is that it’s easier to make positive changes when you bring along an accountability partner. Together, we can make this the best year ever!

Danielle L’Ami

Danielle L’Ami is a logophile who writes her passion and loves to connect with others through her thoughts and personal experiences. When she is not writing, you can find her watching hockey with her husband, torturing her children with new recipes, or practicing yoga to keep herself balanced.

My Toolbox Genomics empowers individuals in their healthcare journey by creating reports focused on genetic predispositions derived from published research. Test results and suggestions are intended to lead to consultation with one’s healthcare practitioner. MyTBG reports do not diagnose disease or medical conditions. Any lifestyle changes should result from consultation with qualified healthcare practitioners.