I have to be kind of careful with this one. See, by mentioning the words “healthy diet” and “weight loss myth” in the same sentence, I run the risk of causing the people who only skim through the first couple of sentences of an article (AKA “article-skimmers”) to leave this page under the impression that a healthy diet being good for weight loss is nothing but a myth. This is completely untrue. It is false. It is wrong. It is not right. It is not true. It is the complete opposite of right and true.
Got that you article-skimmers? Good.
This article is about the idea that a person will lose weight solely by eating good foods and an all around healthy diet. I know, that’s going to sound like the strangest weight loss myth you’ve ever heard. So, I figured the best way I can make it seem less strange is to reenact a conversation that I have too often been a part of. It’s between me and someone who believes in this myth. We’ll just call them “Someone.”
Someone: I want to lose weight, but it’s just not happening. I actually gained a few pounds recently.
Me: Do you workout at all?
Someone: Not as much as I should. But still, I don’t eat any fattening foods. I certainly shouldn’t be gaining weight with what I eat. My diet is pretty good.
Me: What exactly is your diet like?
Someone: It’s really good. I don’t eat anything bad. I really don’t eat any junk food. I eat a lot of good healthy foods.
Me: Well, it’s not so much the foods themselves, it’s the total amount you eat that causes weight loss or weight gain.
Someone: But I eat good foods!
Me: Do you happen to know how many calories you eat each day?
Someone: Who has time to keep track of that? I just make sure I eat mostly good foods and very little junk food. I really do have a healthy diet.
Me: I understand, but if you are eating too much of these good foods, you will still gain weight just the same.
Someone: But I don’t eat anything bad! Nothing I eat is fattening. I eat good foods!
Me: I’ll bet you do, but um, just because the foods are “good” and you may be eating what you consider to be a healthy diet, it doesn’t mean you’ll automatically lose weight. It is important to eat good foods, but it’s the total amount you eat that determines what your weight will do. You could eat nothing but raisins and egg whites all day and still not lose weight if you’re eating too much of it. As far as your weight goes, calories are calories. It doesn’t matter if they come from good foods or bad foods, a healthy diet or an unhealthy diet. If you’re eating too much of anything, you will gain weight just the same.
Someone: But I eat good foods!!!
See what I mean?
This probably isn’t usually thought of as a myth, but since it’s something incorrect that a lot of people seem to believe about weight loss, I certainly consider it to be one. I have had that exact conversation many times. Some people just have a problem understanding that a healthy diet alone doesn’t automatically cause weight loss.
Of course, it certainly could cause a person to lose weight. But if it does, it would be nothing more than a lucky coincidence. Why? Because if a person was normally eating 4000 calories a day worth of junk food and they switched to a diet consisting of 3000 calories worth of healthy food, they would obviously lose weight.
However, it’s not the switch to the healthy diet or good foods that caused this to happen. It’s the reduction in total calories from 4000 to 3000 that did it. It just so happened that this person’s healthy diet ended up being less calories than their unhealthy junk food diet. If that same person switched to a diet consisting of 4000 calories worth of those same good healthy foods, they wouldn’t have lost weight.
When it comes to weight loss, food quality is obviously very important. There is no doubt or disagreement about that. Your diet should be as high in good healthy foods as it can be. But it’s food quantity that is most important. Specific foods aren’t what causes weight loss or weight gain. It’s the total amount consumed that causes changes to your weight. Eat more than your body needs and you will gain, eat less than it needs and you will lose.
So, if you happen to be one of those people who believe in this weight loss myth and are wondering why you aren’t losing weight even though your diet is healthy and you eat very few bad foods, you now know that healthy or unhealthy, good or bad, too much of any food will still be too much.