Things that will help you lose weight and things that don’t matter

You DON’T need to fast.

Can you lose several pounds within the span of a several days by intermittently fasting? Absolutely, but studies show that such restrictions mean a decrease in carbohydrate – which causes a rapid depletion of glycogen along with the water that it is stored with. This weight loss is temporary and superficial at best and in most cases, the problems associated with prolonged fasting far outweigh the solution- making intermittent fasting questionable as even a short-term strategy.

You DON’T need tons of cardio.

Running on a treadmill for hours is not an efficient way to lose weight. When you just do cardio, your body slows down your metabolism to conserve energy (calories). Instead, choose workouts with a combination of interval training (alternating bouts of high and low intensity, like circuits & boxing) and weight training. These activities rev-up the metabolism because the body spends calories to repair and build new muscle as it recuperates from exercise. The new muscle also burns more calories at rest, and as with interval training there is an “after burn” effect boosting your metabolism all day long.

You DON’T need to buy a particular product.

Believing any one product can help you lose weight effortlessly usually involves gimmicky infomercials. Don’t waste money on products that promise you will lose weight while making no effort. The human body does not respond to tricks. Instead, focus on tried-and-true habits of healthy diet and regular exercise. It always comes back to the ratio of calories consumed versus calories burned. Ditto for workout routines. Instead of relying on a single type of exercise, make sure there is variety and cross-train by trying various ones. The more you try, the more likely you will find a routine is that is fun and motivating for you.

You DON’T have to strive for a six-pack.

Lean, mean, well-defined abs are synonymous with a fit body, but striving for them won’t keep you motivated in the long run. A commonality among people who have successfully shed pounds for life: They do it for overall health rather than just the aesthetic perks of having tight buns and a six pack. Exercise does more than flatten your abs and build your biceps. Exercise strengthens your heart, improves posture, increases bone density and generates endorphins in the brain. Likewise, a healthy diet is not just for looking good. Nutritious food wards off chronic illness and provides energy.

You DON’T have to give up gluten.

A gluten-free diet is often promoted as a great way to lose weight, but this is simply not true. The gluten-free diet is only healthier for people with gluten-related disorders, such as celiac or gluten intolerance. Those with celiac disease require a gluten-free diet because gluten causes an adverse, autoimmune reaction in the body that damages intestines and can lead to serious health problems. Gluten alone does not designate an unhealthy diet.

You DON’T have to skip meals.

Saving calories by skipping breakfast and/or lunch can easily backfire and isn’t a recommended weight-loss tactic. It’s one of the worst things you can do. As soon as you skip meals, you get hungry. Hunger causes irritability and lack of concentration that’s likely to affect your work and personal life as well as making you more likely to snack or overeat. Eat three to five small meals a day. This keeps you full, boosts your metabolism and reduces your snack intake. Be sure to keep portions small and focus on nutrient- and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables to keep you full between meals.

You DON’T have to overload on protein.

A food isn’t necessarily going to help you lose weight just because it has protein in it. Protein has exactly the same amount of calories in it as carbohydrates (four calories per gram), and a food or product that’s high in protein doesn’t mean it’s not also high in sugar. I regularly see protein bars that have more calories in them than a bar of chocolate. In terms of losing weight, it doesn’t matter what combination of nutrients you take in, as long as the amount of calories consumed in a day is less than you burn.

You DON’T have to avoid fruit.

Many diet plans ban fruit due their sugar content, but this doesn’t consider the type of sugar contained in fruit. It’s about how this sugar impacts blood sugar levels based on the fruit’s fiber and water content. Fructose, the sugar contained in fruits, is actually absorbed slowly by the human body and does not cause a rise in blood sugar. Plus, fruit’s fiber further helps slow down the absorption of carbohydrates during digestion, helps lower cholesterol and curbs hunger. Fruit is therefore not a hindrance to weight loss at all but can facilitate it.

You DON’T have to eat fat-free foods.

Banning butter and all fat and choosing fat-free versions of your favorite foods can leave you feeling deprived. Studies have shown that dieters are most likely to stay on a diet if they get their fix in fat. Otherwise, the body feels deprived, and staying on track proves very difficult to the point that dieters end up quitting. Instead of going fat-free enjoy the natural, “real” versions in moderation — you’ll be more likely to stay on the path to successful and permanent weight loss. Also, manufacturers of fat-free products tend to compensate for the lack for fat with lots of sugar. So the fat-free saving grace ends up working against you.