Everyone wants to create healthier eating habits, sustain a healthy weight and lower the risks of illness or disease. But because we are constantly being bombarded with advice and tips on dieting it can be hard to find accurate information.
Here we take a look at some of the top diet myths and dig a little deeper into the science behind them….
Myth 1: Calorie Restrictive Diets Are Good For Weight Loss
Our bodies need fuel to function and we get this vital energy from the calories we consume. 75% of all the calories we consume run the essential functions that keep us alive.
So if we cut back too far on calories this can result in a reduction of muscle mass and/or bone density as well as fat. Highly restrictive diets also slow down the body’s metabolism and therefore the weight loss process.
Instead, we recommend:
- Building a weight loss plan that includes exercise and a healthier diet.
- Increasing muscle mass to increase your metabolism.
- Avoid very calorie restrictive diets and speak to your doctor or nutritionist before embarking on a new health plan.
Myth 2: Eating Fat Will Make You Fat
It is true that a diet high in fat can lead to weight gain. However, our bodies need this important nutrient and not all fats are equal. Fat plays a role in giving our bodies energy, transporting vitamins and in repairing tissues.
Instead of cutting all fat from your diet, we recommend reducing the saturated fats. Saturated fats occur naturally in many foods, mainly from animal sources, including meat and dairy products. For example fatty beef, lamb, pork, butter, cheese and other dairy products made from whole fat.
Instead, eat more unsaturated fats, that will help you stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight. As a guideline, have one-third of your calories coming from fat. Alternatives to saturated fats include;
- fruits, vegetables
- whole grains
- low-fat dairy products
- poultry, fish and nuts
Myth 3: Carbs Are Bad For You
Carbs have definitely had a bad rep since the rise in popularity of the no-carb diets. Feared by many, the word carbs conjures up images of pasta, bread, potatoes and cake.
But in fact, our bodies need carbohydrates to complete their basic functions. Complex carbohydrates provide us with fibre and help to regulate our blood sugar. So cutting all carbs from our diet could, in fact, have a negative impact on our health.
You can minimize the risk of bad carbs by eating more whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and beans. Focus on getting more of these “good carbs” into your diet which will in turn help to regulate your digestive system and slowly release sugar into your bloodstream to supply you with energy throughout the day.
Myth 4: Low-Fat Products Are Healthier For You
A lot of people mistake the term “low-fat” with healthy. However, a lot of low-fat products contain a lot of sugar and other unhealthy ingredients that can actually hinder weight loss.
The key to figuring out which ones are better than others is to examine the product labelling for more information. For example, a lot of cereals advertised as “low-fat” contain a lot of sugar, including a number of granola cereals.
And often yoghurts or frozen yoghurts that claim to be low in fat contain a lot of sugar and often conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a compound found in dairy fat that can cause fat loss but can also result in an accumulation of fat in the liver.
Myth 5: Eating Late At Night Causes You To Gain More Weight
The theory behind this myth is that if you eat late at night the body will store more calories as fat because they are not burned through activity.
However several recent studies have shown that it is extra calories consumed late at night that leads to weight gain, not the time of the consumption itself.
So therefore if your total calorie intake for the day falls within the 24 hour period, it does not result in weight gain.
We recommend not eating a heavy meal right before bedtime, as this helps your digestive system but if you are hungry, have a light snack an hour or two before you sleep.
Myth 6: You Should Start Your Healthy Eating Plan With A Juice Cleanse
You do not need to start your healthy eating plan with a detox juice cleanse. If the juices or smoothies you intend to drink contain fruit, then they are probably going to do more harm than good.
The problem with juice cleanses is essentially fibre. When someone blends or juices fruit, it tears the fibre, removing all the insoluble fibre. Which in turn overloads the liver with fruit sugar.
Instead, focus on getting more fruit into your daily diet, eaten whole to make you feel fuller and helping your digestion system to extract the goodness from the food.
Myth 7: Eggs Are Bad For Your Heart Health
Eggs are often associated with unhealthy blood cholesterol, particularly egg yolks. And yes, eggs contain approximately 186mg of cholesterol. However, they are a fantastic source of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids (which are great for a healthy heart).
Food scientists and nutritionists agree, the biggest threat to high cholesterol are in fact trans fats and added sugars, not dietary cholesterol. Furthermore, whole eggs give us many of the B vitamins and nutrients (B6, B12, folate and choline) that help us stay healthy. Eaten in moderation and as part of a healthy, balanced diet, eggs will keep your heart very healthy.
Myth 8: You Shouldn’t Snack When Trying To Lose Weight
This is something we hear a lot and to tackle this myth we need to talk about why we get the urge to snack in between meals. If you are eating three balanced healthy meals a day and you feel the need to snack, your body is telling you it is low on energy and needs more. However, if you have eaten foods high in sugar all day and you feel hungry in between meals, it could be your body is craving more of this sugar.
Eating healthy snacks between meals can actually help you control your appetite. Why not try some vegetable sticks with lower fat homemade hummus, natural yoghurt or fruit.
Myth 9: You will burn more calories if you don’t eat before working out
You should always eat something before exercising. Without the proper fuel, your body won’t be able to work as hard or for as long as you want during the activity.
And even worse, fasting before exercise may result in low blood pressure and lightheadedness. To maximize the results of your workout, aim to eat a meal with carbohydrates, protein and fat 2–3 hours prior. And make sure to pre-hydrate correctly too.
Myth 10: You Can Eat As Much As You Want, As Long As It’s Healthy
Portion size is what counts with every meal and food product you consume. Regardless of nutritious value, you should use smaller plates and bowls to help reduce your portion size. Make an effort to eat slower so your brain gets the message that your stomach is full (which can take up to 15 minutes).
How many calories you need each day to lose weight or maintain your weight depends on your age, weight, metabolism, whether you are male or female, how active you are, and other factors.
Finally, remember there is no quick fix when it comes to losing weight. The healthiest and most sustainable way is through a balanced diet and physical activity. Gradual weight loss is better for your body and will be more sustainable over time.