On a daily basis we are inundated with countless nutrition and
weight loss messages. Some of these are accurate, while others couldn’t be
further from the truth. But “buyer beware” because many nutrition statements or
health claims out there are simply trying to sell you something! Something that
usually is too good to be true. And while sound nutrition science may not always
offer a quick fix, it never goes out of style. Here is a list of weight loss
myths we hear every day.
1. 'In order to lose weight you must cut out carbs' - The amount and type of carbohydrate you eat is important, but
cutting them out altogether doesn’t increase your chances of long term,
successful weight loss. Most cells in the body prefer carbohydrates as their
fuel source. In fact, cutting carbohydrates to lower than
130 grams a day will negatively affect your brain function due to a lack of
serotonin production. There are different
types of carbohydrates; simple and complex. Simple carbs are found in candy
bars, soda, and baked goods, while complex carbs include whole grains, fruits,
and beans. Complex carbohydrates will offer fiber for gastrointestinal health,
slow released carbohydrates for sustained energy levels, and fuel for the brain,
while simple carbohydrates create a surge in blood sugar that wreaks havoc on
energy levels. The confusion may be due to the fact that so
many comfort foods, that are high in carbohydrates, are also high in calories.
But now more than ever, research is popping up everywhere explaining why we
actually should be eating carbs - everyday.
2. 'Snacking is bad' - Usually associated
with chips, ice cream, and candy bars, snacking has received a bad reputation.
When trying to cut calories, dieters think that the fewer times they eat in a
day, the better. But snacking is actually a recommended part of an overall healthy
meal plan. Eating spikes your metabolism, so the more often we eat (while keeping
in mind smart choices!) the more often you are elevating your metabolic rate.
More importantly, try to focus on mindful eating. If you are hungry, indulge in
a small snack until mealtime. This can prevent overindulging when we let
ourselves get too hungry. If you're hungry, pay attention to what your
body is telling you. And if it's telling you that a protein-, healthy fat-, or
fiber-rich snack is what you need to keep pushing through the day, then by all
means, have that snack.
3. 'Natural is better' - there is very
little regulation put on the use of the word “natural” and many of these foods
deliver lots of calories. From a food science perspective, it is difficult to
define a food product that is 'natural' because the food has probably been
processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, the FDA has not
developed a definition for use of the term or its derivatives. However, the
agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain
added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.
4. 'Never eat after 6pm' - It makes no
difference what time you eat as long as you don’t eat so much that it keeps you
awake. Some say certain foods keep them awake, such as chocolate, caffeine,
alcohol, or spicy foods. Your body's digestion and metabolism relies on the foods you eat in
a 24-hour time period, balanced with the amount of calories your body burns for
daily activities. If you eat before bed, yet stay within your daily calorie
requirements to maintain a healthy weight, eating before bed and the way your
body digests food should not affect your weight.
5. 'Doing something short term will have long term results.' - One of the biggest
myths out there is that following a fad diet for a certain amount of time will
result in long term weight loss. Before starting a healthy eating plan or diet,
ask yourself if this is something you could sustain over the long haul. Can you
consume only protein shakes or bars forever? Cabbage? Grapefruit? Soup? If not,
it’s best to not start in the first place. When calories are cut drastically
for an extended period of time, the body reacts by slowing down metabolism,
which is counterproductive to weight loss. Although it’s not going to make
headlines, small positive changes in diet really add up to long term
6. 'Certain foods can make your burn calories' - No foods can burn fat. While different foods offer different health benefits, people are often
left wondering if calories vary from one food to the next. But a calorie is a
calorie, no matter where it comes from. Some foods with caffeine or spice may speed up your metabolism (the way
your body uses energy or calories) for a very short time, but they do not cause
weight loss. The extra calories certain foods may burn is so insignificant that it
really doesn’t make a difference.
7. 'Gluten free diets help with weight loss' - Eliminating a specific food or groups of foods will not magically
make the weight melt off your body. Even though most diet books are based on
this premise, it simply isn't true. When it comes to gluten and weight loss, research shows
that most people following a gluten free diet actually gain weight. Health
benefits, not weight loss, from following a gluten free diet are only derived
from those with Celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Celiac disease is an
autoimmune disorder that attacks the intestine when gluten is ingested. Gluten
is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats. A large portion of gluten
containing foods comes from baked and processed foods.