It’s time to stop following this crappy advice.
To help you streamline your efforts, we talked to top weight-loss experts about less-than-stellar weight-loss strategies that are total waste of time.
From the minimally effective to absolute B.S., these common weight-loss tips have got to go.
1. OD'ING ON GREEN TEA
Okay, research shows that drinking green tea (without sugar or artificial sweeteners) could help you lose weight, but the effect is pretty "meh," says Craig Primack, M.D., a diplomat of the American Board of Obesity Medicine. In one study, people who drank two to four cups per day increased their metabolism by 50 daily calories. That's a ton of brewing for so little benefit. (Speed up your progress towards your weight-loss goals with Women's Health's Look Better Naked DVD.)
Meanwhile, all of the green tea weight-loss supplements out there are just a waste of money. "Don't get fooled into believing that any company has found a new natural superfood that will easily help you lose weight," Primack says. "I can comfortably say that in 2017 there are no magic superfoods."
2. CUTTING OUT GLUTEN
If you have celiac disease, yeah, avoiding gluten is a must. Otherwise, cutting out gluten is not only a waste of time—it can work against your efforts, Primack says. That's because when food manufacturers take gluten (usually from wheat) out of foods, they typically substitute it with rice flour, which increases its sugar content. That can lead to a quick spike and drop in your blood sugar levels, leaving you hangry.
"When we compare the average body weight of patients diagnosed with celiac disease, who are forced to consume a gluten-free diet, they demonstrate a higher body weight than their gluten-consuming counterparts," says Ethan Lazarus, M.D., director of the Clinical Nutrition Center in Denver. In fact, a 2017 Harvard University study of approximately 200,000 adults even shows that reducing or eliminating gluten is associated with a 13 percent greater risk of developing diabetes.
3. DITCHING DAIRY
Shake off the dairy haters. "More often than not, studies show that drinking milk and eating dairy foods, which are high in protein, results in weight loss," Primack says. For instance, in one 2016 American Journal of Clinical Nutritionstudy of 8,000 normal-weight women, those who ate the most dairy gained less weight over the course of 11 years compared to those who consumed little to no dairy.
Bonus: Those who ate the most full-fat dairy reaped the greatest weight-loss benefits.
4. TRIMMING FAT INTAKE
Back in the 1970s, "fat makes you fat" seemed like a pretty easy conclusion to make. But it was also wrong, Lazarus says. Drastically reducing your fat intake can actually make it harder to lose weight. Fun fact: Getting less than 15 percent of your daily calories from fat can throw your hormones levels off (including muscle-building testosterone) and stoke your appetite. After all, dietary fat is awesome at boosting satiety and squashing cravings.
Plus, when food manufacturers subtract fat from products, such as ice cream, chips, and cookies, they often add in extra sugar, calories, and salt to keep your taste buds happy. So stop worrying so much about your fat intake. As long as you're filling up on naturally occurring fats—rather than the ones packed into processed foods—you're pretty much good to go.
5. AVOIDING FOOD AFTER DARK
Eating at night doesn't cause weight gain, but absentmindedly raiding the refrigerator does, says registered dietitian Julie Raeder Schumacher, associate professor of consumer sciences at Illinois State University. "People tend to mindlessly snack in the evening, so the calories from these foods may add up and cause weight gain," she says.
Plus, since many women take the deprivation route to dieting all day long, their hunger can get so fierce in the evening that everything in sight ends up in their bellies. Rather than taking a no-food-after-dark approach to weight loss, focus on eating mindfully all day long, she says.