As we continue on with our 2007 goals for healthier eating habits, consider these myth busters when it comes to “easy” weight loss. New research is exploring some long held myths about losing weight and brining new insight into how to get it off and keep it off.

Myth: “Starchy” foods are fattening.

Fact: Fatty foods are more likely to plump up the waistline.

Fat is a highly concentrated source of calories. In equal amounts by weight, fat supplies more calories than “starchy” foods (carbohydrates like bread and pasta) or even sugar. Studies at Cornell University have found that when people reduce the fat in their diets, they can eat a larger volume of food and still consume less calories.

Other studies have found that our bodies store fat about 25 percent more efficiently than carbohydrate. That means that even if you did eat the same number of calories on a high-fat diet as on a high-carbohydrate diet, more of the fat calories would end up available for storage as — you guessed it — body fat.

Myth: Diets are slimming.

Fact: Diets don’t work over the long haul.

A discouraging 90 to 95 percent of weight lost on diets is regained within two to five years. One reason is that when people lose weight by “going on a diet,” they often go off the diet when weight is lost. When old eating habits return, pounds creep back. In contrast, low-fat eating is not meant only for weight reduction. A low-fat, nutrient-rich diet that becomes a permanent part of your life is now recognized as the basis for good health and lower cancer risk.

Myth: A low-fat diet puts favorite fatty foods off limits.

Fact: Such extremes may lead to health-busting binges.

A low-fat diet need not exclude all high-fat foods completely. Recent studies suggest that about 50 percent of dieters have at least some problems with binge eating. Many researchers now believe that binges are often a response to overly-strict diets. If certain high-fat foods are your special favorites, learn how to enjoy them in moderation rather than struggling with the all-or-nothing rules of a strict “diet mentality.”

Myth: Exercise is nice, if you can fit it in.

Fact: Exercise is essential.

Researchers are increasingly stressing that a combination of diet and regular moderate exercise holds many advantages over diet alone. Not only will you lose more weight, but a greater proportion of that loss will be fat rather than lean muscle tissue. When you try to lose pounds through diet alone, your metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn calories throughout the day) drops, so you start to conserve calories. Exercise prevents or substantially decreases this drop.

Overall, what’s new in research on weight control suggests that the best way to lose weight and keep it off is also the best way for all of us to keep healthy – balanced, low-fat eating habits and regular physical activity.

Learn with a Click!

Extension educational outreach via the internet continues to reach families all across the nation, as well as our own county residents. By offering quality researched based publications online, residents can download the information from the comfort of your home! The resources are in PDF so you will need the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to access the information.

Go to and click the Publications link at the top of the home page. Select from these Categories: Family, Food, Health, Housing, Safety and Money. Current information to help you and your family is added each month in the form of “Click and Learn” courses and Fact Sheets. Fact sheets are more condensed – usually two to four pages of basic information on the different subjects. Don’t have Internet access? That’s not a problem! Call the Rockwall County Extension Office and we will be happy to share with you an index of what is available and will also print you a copy of any of the publications. You can come by the office and pick up the copies or we can mail them to you.

The information given herein is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by Texas Cooperative Extension is implied. Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin. For more information, call your Rockwall County Extension Office – 972-882-0375.

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