It’s easy to feel confused about what’s right for you and your diet when there’s so much information (and misinformation) around. It then becomes easy to fall into myths about what is good for us and what is not. When it comes to managing our weight and overall health, many popular beliefs are actually myths and others are only partly true. Here are some diet myths busted … and the truths you should know.
MYTH – SKIPPING MEALS CUTS CALORIES
The method of cutting calories for rapid weight loss makes skipping meals sound like a great idea right? Unfortunately, the equation is not so straightforward as the negative impacts of skipping meals on your overall health can make you think twice.
In fact, skipping out on just one meal can make your blood sugar plummet. Not only would this make you extremely hungry but it can also cause you to overeat and compensate for the calories you deliberately tried to avoid. Consistent skipping of meals can have negative effects such as – weight gain, binge eating, lower metabolism levels and impairing of mental focus.
Our bodies are very smart and know how to combat consistent restriction of calories by reducing energy expenditure. Your body needs food to fuel your brain, support your physiological functions and daily activities. With less calories coming in, your body will adapt and use fewer calories to perform the same tasks. In return this can slower or damage your metabolism.
Do not fear food, your body and your brain require energy to function and to support your daily activities. Make a it a goal to get into a regular eating pattern with your meals that is easy to maintain. Eating regularly can actually help you maintain good health and even lose some weight if that is your goal.
MYTH – CARBS MAKE YOU FAT
There was a time when fat was the most feared macronutrient. Now, carbs seem to be an even bigger enemy. However carbs contain less than half of the calories than calories from fat. Carbohydrates are also packed with nutrients that our bodies need.
It seems that carbs get a bad rep because people seem to think of white carbs like white rice, pasta, potatoes or white bread. However while many refined carbs do not offer our bodies much nutrition or long lasting energy, there are a lot of good carbs (complex carbs) that our bodies thrive from.
Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy. They help fuel your brain, kidneys, heart muscles and central nervous system. For instance fiber is a carbohydrate that supports digestion which helps you feel full. Complex carbs are the type of carbs which should make up the majority of our diet. Opt for whole-grains like oats, brown rice, wholemeal bread, pasta and sweet potatoes. Complex carbs are more likely to provide you with nutrients and long lasting energy.
While yes, it is okay to occasionally enjoy some simple carbs like cakes or baked goods, be mindful and include more complex carbs in your daily eating habits.
MYTH – YOU CANT EAT AFTER 8 PM
It doesn’t matter what time you eat – what’s important is how many calories you consume in total. It is what and how much you eat and how much physical activity you do during the whole day that determines whether you gain, lose, or maintain your weight.
We eat at night for a variety of reasons that often have little to do with hunger, from satisfying cravings to coping with boredom or stress. You may also be more likely to snack mindlessly while watching television. However, keep in mind that it is not very healthy for your digestive system to eat a heavy meal right before bed. Try to space out your meals during the day and balance them with good amounts of protein, carbs and healthy fats. This will help you feel more satiated and less peckish at night.
Eating at night does not mean weight gain. It is instead important to pay attention to the quantity and quality of the food you are consuming rather than the timing. If you’re eating later in the evening, do so mindfully and put away the snacks when you’re satisfied.
MYTH – YOU CAN SPOT REDUCE FAT
As frustrating as it can be, we cannot pick and choose where we gain or lose weight from. Targeted fat loss is not possible and there’s no solid scientific evidence to suggest that you can burn fat on specific areas of your body.
To lose fat, you have to burn more calories than you eat. When you do that, you create a caloric deficit that causes your body to take more energy from your cells. When that energy is taken, those cells get smaller, leading to a reduction of fat. The body doesn’t only draw energy from the cells in the area we’re working. It gets energy from the body as a whole.
Also keep in mind that your genes, hormones, gender, body type, body composition, diet, and many other factors also determine where and when the fat comes off.
Even though we cannot choose where we lose body fat from we can certainly work on improving our overall strength and muscles mass through consistent training. Through regular exercise and good nutrition, you can burn fat from your entire body, and get fitter, healthier and leaner in the process.
MYTH – CERTAIN FOODS / SUPPLEMENTS BURN FAT
There is no such thing as a magic pill or a super food with fat burning and instant results. If your goal is weight loos, what matters is consuming less total calories than you are using.
Various brands claim that their supplements have dramatic effects. The main reason that supplements work for some people is the placebo effect. People are quickly attracted to the promises on the labels and fall for the marketing tactics and purchase supplements to help them manage their weight. What is happening instead is that people become more conscious of what they eat.
The food industry also makes false promises. Oftentimes, products marketed as diet foods (such as protein bars, cereals, or super-food snacks) are junk foods in disguise, as they’re heavily processed, contain a lot of sugar or may harbor hidden ingredients.
The key is to having a balanced diet. Ditch the supplements and food products with their false promises. Instead invest your time and money into healthy food and practice better habits over time for sustainable results.
SO – WHAT CAN WE TAKE AWAY FROM ALL OF THESE DIET MYTHS ?
- Eat regular meals. Having a healthy snack in between can be beneficial too!
- Don’t go on a crazy diet, try to live a more balanced life.
- Not all carbs are bad: Oats, rice, and sweet potatoes are your friends – all things in moderation!
- Snacking at night does not equal extra weight on your hips. Instead eat regularly and be mindful.
- Sorry to break it to you – but, you cannot spot reduce fat. Make exercise a part of your healthy lifestyle and eat well.
- Ditch the supplements and trendy ‘super foods’. Focus on having a variety of wholesome food in your diet.
To be strong, healthy, and fit, avoid the fads and forget the extremes. Focus on making small changes gradually, develop a healthy relationship with food and learn to become consistent. This is the key to getting (and staying) on the right track with your overall health.
Disclaimer – I am not a health care professional. This blog provides general information and discussions about health and wellness. The information and other content provided in this blog are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.