Food & Nutrition

17 Weight Loss “Tricks” That Don’t Actually Work—and What to Do Instead

If you’re serious about losing weight and keeping it off long term, stop messing around with these trendy diet don’ts.

Going on a cleanse

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The worst diet advice nutritionists have ever heard: Go on a cleanse. These “detox” diets purport to rid your body of harmful toxins and help with weight loss—but they don’t, and they can be harmful, according to the National Institutes of Health. “The weight lost completing a cleanse or detox is not sustained in the long run—temporary solutions equal temporary results,” says NYC-based registered dietitian Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, bestselling author of The F-Factor Diet and creator of F-Factor. “Immediately after finishing a cleanse, people go back to their regular eating habits and inevitably gain their weight back.” Cleanses can lack important nutrients like protein and fiber, she says, which can leave you exhausted and hungry. Plus, “juice cleanses have more sugar than several bowls of sweetened cereal,” Zuckerbrot says. Your kidneys and liver naturally detox your body, so cleanses aren’t necessary. Here are some other terrible pieces of diet advice that nutritionists hear.

Cutting carbs

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Yes, you can eat carbs and be healthy. “The problem with cutting out carbohydrates for weight loss is that they are necessary to fuel our body’s daily activities,” Zuckerbrot says. Without them, we feel weak, tired, and cranky, which can lead to feelings of deprivation and trigger excessive eating. “The solution to eating the carbohydrates your body needs without gaining weight is to increase consumption of high-fiber carbohydrates, which slows digestion and prevents blood sugar spikes,” she says. Aim for 35 to 38 grams of fiber per day of healthy carbs including whole grains and fruits. This is what actually happens to your body when you stop eating carbs.

Going gluten-free

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Eliminating gluten is one of the biggest myths about weight loss. And for people without a gluten allergy, it can have unexpected results. “Going gluten-free might work for a little while, but your whole GI tract will change as a result,” says Shayna Komar, RD, a licensed and registered dietitian at Piedmont Healthcare. “So, if you go back and add gluten into your diet again, you may find you’ve actually developed a gluten sensitivity.” Many gluten-free products are filled with sugar and other unhealthy fillers. Plus, some studies suggest that going gluten-free means you’ll miss out on the cardiovascular health benefits whole grains provide.

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