Fed up with clashing weight loss advice? Woman’s Own Diets guru Angela Dowden reveals what is and isn’t true

1. If you’ve yo-yo dieted, you’ll never be slim

Not true! Even if you’ve lost and regained weight countless times, it’s not a fat life sentence. Crash dieting does lower your metabolic rate, but the effect is only temporary and your metabolism will recover. Yo-yo dieting isn’t good for other reasons, though – it’s been linked with both poor immunity and higher levels of inflammation, which in the long term could increase your risk of heart disease and cancer. The only way to break the weight loss/gain cycle is to stick to eating healthily month after month.

2. You have to eat boring low-fat food on a diet

Absolutely not! As long as calories are controlled, people tent to lose weight better on a Mediterranean-style diet with moderate fat. Higher fat is tastier and can be healthy as long as you opt for mostly unsaturated fats from nuts, seeds, oily fish, salad dressings and avocados. As a guideline, women who are losing weight shouldn’t eat below 25-30g of fat a day.

3. You can’t fight your fat genes

It’s certainly true that genetics play a part in determining your weight, but it’s likely that the food and exercise habits you have inherited from your parents will affect it more. Blaming your fat genes can often be the excuse the you hide behind to stop you taking responsibility for what you do actually eat every day, and making the changes that will lead to a healthier life.

4. Some lucky people can eat whatever they want and not put on weight

No – eating 3,500 more calories than you use up means anybody will gain 1lb of fat on average, and it’s the same for everyone. But if the scales go up several pounds after one meal out, this may be just a temporary increase in fluid, not fat. Don’t give up and get depressed – just get back on track as soon as you can.

5. You can’t lose weight without feeling really hungry

The latest research on satiety, which is the science of fullness, shows the some foods, particularly high-fibre, airy, water-rich and high-protein types, can satisfy hunger very successfully without overloading our bodies with calories. Key filling foods that fit this description include fruit, vegetables, wholegrains (such as porridge and wholewheat pasta), lean meat, reduced-fat milk, eggs, fish and Quorn.

6. Dieting makes your body go into starvation mode, so you end up fatter

It’s true that cutting calories too drastically will make your body try to hold on to its fat reserves. But this starvation response, as it’s called, won’t make you pile on the pounds. However going much below 1200-1400 calories per day isn’t worth it, as you’ll put in lots of extra effort for little benefit. The optimum calorie intake for efficient weight loss is 1200-1500 a day, averaged out over a week.

7. Eating late in the evening means you won’t lose weight

Ever been to a country like Spain and noticed that families sit down to eat at 10pm? Traditional meal times vary the world over and late-night eating doesn’t correlate with levels of obesity. The bottom line? Your body will only store food as fat if you eat more overall than you use up in physical activity over 24 hours.

For further information on our diet club, and to get a free 7-day membership, go to Woman’s Own Diets