Weight loss is an incredibly popular topic throughout the world, and if you ask anyone, they will most likely tell you that they wouldn't mind toning up a certain muscle group or shedding a couple of extra pounds. Even the healthiest individuals consistently set goals to increase their overall health and fitness levels.

The major problem with the numerous weight loss resources currently available to consumers is that they hardly emphasize the key factors for successful dieting and weight loss. Instead, they focus on current fads and methods that they know will sell, sometimes completely ignoring the methods for weight loss that are the healthiest and safest.

Knowing the truth regarding the following five weight loss myths will help you better understand your body, and hopefully become more successful in your future dieting endeavors.

The Top Five Weight Loss Myths

5. I should avoid resistance training. Many individuals believe that in order to lose weight most effectively, they need to focus only on cardiovascular workouts such as running and biking. This could not be farther from the truth. Although cardiovascular exercise does help burn calories, resistance training (weightlifting) actually helps improve overall body composition. Muscle tissue is much more metabolic than fat tissue. That being said, as you build lean muscle tissue, you actually increase your metabolism, burning more calories each day just by living. For this reason, if you are serious about long term weight loss and maintenance, both cardiovascular exercise and resistance training should be incorporated into your workout plan.

4. I must avoid dietary fats at all cost. Although it is true that fat is more energy-dense than protein and carbohydrates (one gram of fat contains nine calories versus the four calories that each gram of protein and carbohydrate contain), some fats actually help improve your overall heart health and cholesterol levels. Saturated fats and trans fats should be avoided, as they are harmful to your health, but mono and poly-unsaturated fats should be consumed in moderation, as they will improve your overall well-being. Fats also suppress the appetite more effectively than carbohydrates, meaning that you can eat fewer fats and still feel full for longer periods. This is essential, as dieting becomes extremely difficult if you are always hungry. A well balanced diet which includes protein, carbohydrates, and unsaturated fats will ultimately provide the healthiest long term weight loss results.

3. If I severely restrict my caloric intake I will lose weight much more quickly. It is true that a reduction in caloric intake is essential for weight loss to take place; however, severely limiting caloric intake for extended periods will inhibit your weight loss efforts, as your metabolism levels will crash. When calories are severely restricted, your body goes into "starvation mode", striving to keep as much energy stored (ultimately in the form of fat) as possible, so even though you are not eating much, your weight loss progress stalls. The starvation method will cause you to lose weight initially, but it is not a long-term method for weight loss, nor is it a healthy practice. What it ultimately comes down to is the energy balance equation. In order to lose weight, you must expend more calories than you consume on a daily basis, but a moderate caloric deficit is key. A caloric deficit of 500-1,000 calories per day (burning 500-1,000 calories more than you consume) will allow you to lose weight gradually, in a healthy manner. It is stated that no one should consume less than 1,200 calories daily without the consent of a dietician, nutritionist, or doctor.

2. My scale is the best indicator of my weight loss progress. False! Too many individuals think that their scale is their friend and tells them the whole story regarding their weight loss progress. In reality, muscle tissue is more dense than fat. If you are resistance training, as you should be to increase your overall metabolism, you will lose weight more slowly, as you will be losing fat mass, but also gaining lean muscle mass (which is more dense). Therefore, a scale is a horrible method of determining your weight loss progress. You're focusing on losing only fat weight, not healthy, lean weight. Instead of fixating on the scale's numbers, focus on how your clothes fit and have your body composition regularly measured. You can also measure body girths of the waist, hips, chest, and limbs to monitor your progress over time. This will allow you to watch as your fat percentage drops, and your total lean muscle mass increases, leading you to become both healthier and stronger!

1. I can lose weight rapidly with no adverse effects. This is the number one weight loss myth, promoted by an incredible amount of weight loss resources and "fitness gurus", and is absolutely not true. Yes, it is definitely possible to lose lots of weight in a very short period of time. No, it is not possible to do so in a healthy manner, and, after all, aren't you losing weight to become healthier? It has been proven that if an individual loses more than 4 pounds in a week, it is impossible for that individual to lose only fat mass (this means the individual will also be losing lean muscle tissue, and therefore decreasing his or her overall metabolism). In addition to losing muscle mass, an individual who loses weight rapidly tends to gain even more weight back, just as rapidly, as his or her body is unable to adapt to the new metabolic and physiological requirements associated with its newly achieved weight. The person who crash diets then ends up losing muscle mass while dieting, and gaining back even more fat tissue afterwards - achieving the exact opposite of their goal! Instead of "crash dieting" to lose 10 pounds in a week, give yourself a 5-10 week period to lose the same amount of weight. Losing 1-2 pounds per week is the best rate for weight loss. One pound contains 3,500 calories; therefore, by creating a caloric deficit of 500-1,000 calories daily, you will lose 1-2 pounds per week without starving yourself. In the case of weight loss, slow and steady wins the race - and you'll finish the race feeling much more healthy and energetic.

Now that the top five weight loss myths have been revealed, use your knowledge as motivation! Continue to read about effective, healthy, and safe weight loss methods, set up a workout plan that incorporates both cardiovascular exercise and resistance training, and consume a balanced diet that you will hold yourself accountable for adhering to. By following these guidelines, you'll be on your way to achieving your goal of shedding those extra pounds in no time!