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7 Diet Tricks That Can Surprisingly Make You Fat

author image Julie Upton, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D.
Julie Upton is co-founder of Appetite for Health and is a certified sports dietitian who has been writing since 1994. She is a nationally recognized journalist who has contributed to "The New York Times," "Shape" and "Men's Health." Upton is also the coauthor of "The Real Skinny: Appetite for Health's 101 Fat Habits & Slim Solutions." She holds a Master of Science in nutrition communications.

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7 Diet Tricks That Can Surprisingly Make You Fat
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Are you trying to lose weight but aren’t seeing any results on the scale? You’re not alone. With all the diet misinformation out there, it’s often hard to distinguish between weight-loss facts and fiction. To help bring you closer to reaching your health goals, here are seven weight-loss myths you can stop believing.

1. Chugging the Juice
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While juices are viewed as natural sources of vitamin C, they are surprisingly high in calories. A 16-ounce juice can typically contain 250 to 300 calories. But it’s easy to drink these calories without giving them much second thought. Why? Because juices don’t contain any fiber they don’t provide the same feeling of satiety that solid foods provide. And because juices don’t suppress hunger, people often end up consuming more overall calories throughout the day. So instead of drinking your fruits, eat them instead. And stay hydrated with water and other calorie-free options, including coffee or tea.

2. Eating Smaller Meals
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You’ve probably heard that you should eat several small meals throughout the day to lose weight. But recent human clinical studies have found that mini meals lack sufficient calories to trigger feelings of fullness and may end up boosting your appetite and desire to eat. Constant grazing also puts the body in a perpetually fed state. This is identified by elevated blood glucose, insulin and pro-inflammatory markers, which are linked to an increased risk for chronic diseases. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer for how many meals is best, you can try what is considered a “normalized” eating pattern: Start with three main meals and one or two snacks, and adjust from there. The key is to try to distribute your calories during the day and avoid eating too many calories in the evening.

Related: 9 Sneaky Ways to Trick Yourself Out of Snacking

3. Going Gluten-Free
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Following a gluten-free diet that eliminates the carbs you love may seem like a good way to lose weight, but there’s actually no evidence that suggests it will help you slim down. And it may contribute to weight gain because many gluten-free foods are higher in calories, fat, sodium and sugar. This is because manufacturers need to enhance flavors and textures to make up for the lack of gluten. A better approach: No foods need to be off limits when you’re trying to lose weight (unless you have a food sensitivity). Cut back on added sugars and other nutrient-poor carbs, and enjoy healthy, fiber-rich, whole-grain carbohydrates that help keep you satisfied.

Related: 18 Foods With a 'Bad Rap' That Are Actually Good for You

4. Eating a Skimpy Breakfast
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You’re not particularly hungry when you wake up because you’re in a rush to get out the door, so you skip breakfast or just grab a piece of fruit. But cutting calories in the morning generally means you’ll eat more later in the day. What’s more, metabolism is more efficient earlier in the day compared to late afternoon or evening. So keep your overall calories within your daily budget, but shift your eating pattern so that breakfast and lunch are larger meals and dinner is smaller. After dinner, try to avoid mindlessly snacking in the evening.

Related: 9 Egg Breakfasts in 10 Minutes or Less

5. Loading Up on Organic Foods
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Many organic foods have health halos, which can lead you down a slippery slope of assuming that you can enjoy them or eat more of them. But organic sugar, honey or agave is still added sugar. The same is true for all-natural chips, crackers or candy, which should be limited if you’re trying to trim down. Buy organic foods for their environmental benefits, and stick with the core principles of healthy eating by planning your meals and snacks around produce, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy, unsaturated fat.

6. Piling on Protein
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Protein is filling, so it can help you keep calories in check. It may also provide a slight lift to your metabolism and is important to helping you retain muscle mass as you lose weight. But eating too much protein can lead to weight gain, just as eating too much bread or pasta can. High-protein diets are also usually harder to follow than traditional eating plans like a Mediterranean diet. As a result, studies reveal that, over the long run, high-protein diets have no weight-loss advantage over high-carbohydrate diets. What’s more, there is significant scientific agreement that too much animal protein increases risks for certain types of cancer. Instead, eat a primarily plant-based diet rich in filling fiber, and divide your daily protein into three servings of around 25 to 40 grams.

Related: The 7 Best Protein Bars and 3 to Avoid!

7. Eating More “Healthy” Fats
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From avocados to almond butter and hummus to olive oil, the fats-that-won’t-make-you-fat list seems to have grown bigger than ever before. But the problem is that fat contains nine calories per gram compared to four calories per gram for both protein and carbohydrates. Just small amounts of fat-rich foods pack a lot of calories. What’s more, studies show that fat is more satisfying than carbs, but it doesn’t provide the same level of satiety as the same amount of calories from protein. You don’t need to eat a low-fat diet to lose weight, but you do need to keep total calories in check. That usually means keeping a lid on the amount of fat-rich food you eat. So enjoy foods with unsaturated fats, but in moderation.

Related: 18 Fat-Rich Foods That Are Good for You

What Do YOU Think?
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Have you tried any of the diet “tricks” listed here? How do you make sure you don’t go overboard and end up with a diet that may not be as good for you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Related: 8 Small Diet Changes That Yield Big Results

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