Many people who can afford to lose a few pounds attempt to stay on a special diet or try miracle pills that promise to rapidly get rid of unwanted weight. However, experts agree that the only way to shed excess pounds is through physical activity and healthy eating. It can be difficult to find a weight loss program that works for you, but being able to identify dieting myths can save you time and money.

There are a few key myths that have led many people to try unusual, unhealthy ways to lose weight. Many of these have been presented as fact, but knowing the truth can be a helpful tool when getting on the fast track to a healthier life.

  • Myth: Eating after 8 p.m. will inevitably cause weight gain. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) says that the time you choose to eat has little to do with how much weight you gain in the end. Factors that directly contribute to how many pounds you add are what you eat, how much exercise you get, and your portion control.
  • Myth: Low-fat or fat-free foods are completely free of calories. This assumption is made by many people, but not all low-fat or fat-free foods contain less calories than the original versions. Some processed products contain additional sugar, flour or starch, which can make them even unhealthier than the regular type, according to the NIDDK.
  • Myth: Exercising is enough. Although many people are under the assumption that physical activity is all that needs to be done to shed extra pounds, a healthy diet is crucial to losing weight. Incorporating nutritious foods into daily meals can help individuals reach their weight loss goals.
  • Myth: You don't have to count calories. It seems like a tedious process, but counting calories is crucial to staying on track and losing weight. Understanding the calorie intake and the nutritional value behind each item you consume can help you get closer to reaching your goals and hone in on areas for improvement. In the end, calorie counting is a worthwhile habit that will serve you well even after a weight loss program is complete.