5 Myths and facts behind calories: Have you been dieting all wrong?

Trying to shed a few pounds can be tough. Diets. Exercise. Caloric balance. It almost...

Trying to shed a few pounds can be tough. Diets. Exercise. Caloric balance. It almost takes a flowchart to make sure you're doing it right. Before talking to a doctor about a weight loss plan, dispel some weight loss myths, learn the facts and get positive. You can do this!

  1. Myth: Calories are bad. A calorie is a measurement of energy. Without them, you'd become fatigued and malnourished. You need calories to survive. Weight gain occurs when you consume more than you burn. For example, 3,500 calories converts to approximately one pound of body weight. By trimming 500 calories from your daily intake each day, you can lose a pound a week! Splurge on dessert once a week (not once a day) and use half your usual amount of salad dressing or dipping sauces.

  2. Fact: Beverages can sabotage your diet. When watching your weight, look beyond your plate. What you drink might be making it difficult to lose weight. Gourmet coffee made with cream or flavored syrups can be equal in calorie count to having a dessert! Instead, opt for water flavored with orange and lemon slices, herbal tea seasoned with a fresh sprig of mint or dilute a glass of juice with ice water.

  3. Myth: One calorie eaten is equal to one calorie burned. After you eat, your body metabolizes, absorbs and digests food. This transformation can make unhealthy foods stored as fat extremely stubborn to shed. So, choose healthy, whole foods that digest and burn easily. Swap a fried mushrooms appetizer for hummus dip and fresh veggies.

  4. Fact: Exercise increases caloric balance. If you don't want to eat less, exercise more. Jog on the beautiful network of footpaths and trails in downtown Atlanta. Join a workout program at a fitness center with a friend. If you prefer a laid-back approach, do a workout DVD in the privacy of your home, start a garden or swap your chair for a stationary bike when watching television in the evening.

  5. Myth: A 100-calorie bite of sweet potato pie is the same as 100-calories of fresh strawberries. Although the numbers may be the same, the nutrition is not. That bite of pie is loaded with processed sugar and fat-filled crust. Nutritionally, these don't do anything positive for your body. However, the 100-calorie serving of strawberries gives you vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants. Choose your calorie splurges carefully.

Are you ready to make a change? Schedule an appointment with an Atlanta doctor to evaluate your current health condition and weight loss efforts. A physician can help you choose an effective exercise program, provide nutrition advice and make sure these changes work well with current medications and supplements.

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