10 Weight-Loss Rules You're Allowed to Break

Man working out in headphones drinking water

Sure, rules are created to help keep things in order but sometimes they're outdated or misguided and should be broken. After all, there's no one size fits all when it comes to losing weight. Here are 10 weight-loss rules that you're allowed to break.

1. Don’t Eat Carbs (and Other “Bad” Foods)


Stop me if you've ever heard any of this diet advice: Don't eat gluten. Don't eat wheat. Don't eat carbs. Don't eat fat. Don't eat red meat. Yep, we live in a world where popular diets often find a "villain" that they call fat loss enemy number one. The strategy can work in the short term because it forces you to eat less. But these restrictions are impossible to sustain in real life. If you want a plan that is going to work for the long run, don't criminalize specific foods and ban them from your life. Instead, work on improving food-related behaviors like slowing down your eating, stopping eating when you're 80 percent full, and choosing more whole, non-processed foods.

Read more: "Bad" Foods that Are Good For You

2. Keep Your Meals Small


Don't stress about how often you eat; instead focus on what you eat. That's because meal frequency isn't as important as the quality of the foods you eat and how much you consume during the day. Here's what you need to know: Some people do great eating three meals per day, while others prefer five to six smaller meals. And researchers have found that as long as the total calories and nutrients are the same, the number of meals you eat doesn't impact fat loss. How do you choose? Select the option that works best for your life.

Read more: 8 Habits of Highly Fit People

3. Protein Powder Is Only For Muscle Gain


Those big jugs of protein aren't just for people looking to pack on muscle. In fact, one of the best options on any diet is protein thanks to its satiation factor. According to a study in The Journal of Nutrition, when people took whey protein for 23 weeks, they had less body fat and a smaller waist size. Protein powder can not only help you build muscle, but it's also been shown to keep you feeling fuller; making it one of your best friends on any diet plan.

Read more: 8 Things to Consider When Choosing a Protein Powder - and our Top Picks

4. Be Wary of Supplements


It's true that many supplements have more hype than the movies, but that doesn't mean some aren't great for your body. Scientists from Gettysburg University found that fish oil might be an essential part of your fat-fighting formula. The research indicates that omega-3s might help fight against cortisol—the stress hormone your body produces that makes it easier for you to store fat. If you can do a better job of controlling cortisol, you can help keep fat off your body and speed the process of discovering a better you.

Read more: 17 Reasons Why You Probably Need More Omega-3s in Your Diet

5. Diet and Exercise Are All That Matters


One of the biggest myths about weight loss is that everything revolves around calories in versus calories out. But did you know that not getting enough sleep could lead directly to weight gain? Researchers from Wake Forest University found that people that sleep five hours or less each night gained nearly 2.5 times more abdominal fat than those who logged six to seven hours. Not getting enough sleep can slow your metabolism, increase your appetite, and decrease the number of calories you burn, which is why you need to prioritize your rest as highly as you do eating and exercise.

Read more: 12 Foods to Help You Fall (and Stay) Asleep

6. Snack More Often


Snacks can be great. They're small,convenient, and help you through your hunger pangs. But did you know that the average size of snacks have almost doubled in the past 20 years and about 25 percent of our total calories are coming from snacks? In order to snack more effectively, take the time to learn portion sizes and make your snacks count by choosing whole, natural foods -- apple and peanut butter, carrots and hummus, etc.

Read more: Quick and Easy Guide to Estimate Portion Size

7. You Must Spend Hours Exercising


Think you need to spend lots of time in the gym to get in shape? Think again. Researchers from Denmark found that 30 minutes of exercise per day can be just as effective as 60 minutes in terms of fat loss. What's more, scientists have discovered that three, 15-minute workouts per week is enough to significantly boost metabolism and increase fat loss. The best part? Those studies just focused on exercise. When you combine a little exercise with some great eating advice, you have a plan that will keep the pounds off without taking too much time out of your day.

Read more: The No. 1 Reason Your Workout Isn't Working

8. You Need to Join a Gym


We all agree that there's not enough time in the day. It's a legitimate reason why it's so hard to stay in shape. That's why you need to make the most of the time you do have. Our recommendation: Workout at home. Whether you perform a bodyweight circuit or follow an online workout program, it doesn't matter how you exercise. Your body doesn't know the difference between the pushup you perform in your home or the ones you do in the gym.

Read more: The Newbie's Guide to Bizarre Gym Lingo

9. Drink More Liquids


Dehydration is the enemy of weight loss. When you don't drink enough, your body releases a hormone that makes you crave more food. But what you drink can make a big difference between not feeling hungry and packing on pounds. Want to instantly cut weight? Remove all beverages not named water. In 2011, Americans drank an average of 53 gallons of soda a year. Calorie-rich beverages are often the reason people have trouble losing weight even when they're eating well.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know to Stay Properly Hydrated

10. Don’t Enjoy Your Food


Most diets have it all wrong. Turns out, the more you enjoy your food, the more weight you'll actually lose. The catch: It's not just what you eat—the way you eat might be the best way to curb your hunger. Eating fast makes you gain weight, according to Japanese researchers. In their study, they found that people who ate faster gained more weight than those who didn't. Want to eat less? Just slow down. According to a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who take smaller bites and chew their food for nearly nine seconds eat less food compared to those who scarf their bites in three seconds or less.

Read more: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study

What Do You Think?


Do you ever break any of these rules? What other weight-loss rules do you break? Are there any rules that you would never break? Let us know.

How to Lose 3 Percent Body Fat and Gain 10 Pounds in Muscle


Sure, rules are created to help keep things in order but sometimes they're outdated or misguided and should be broken. After all, there's no one size fits all when it comes to losing weight. Here are 10 weight-loss rules that you're allowed to break.


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