Diet Myths

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That´s what my grandfather said, anyway.

10 Diet Myths 

There are so many people involved in “How to Lose Weight” – many looking for a new angle on dieting or with a personal interest in some particular opinion – that it´s hard to know what to believe and what not to believe. Dietary myths are a case in point, with some experts dismissing as myths things which other experts say are important and true. It seemed reasonable and true back in the 1960s and 1970s to decide that fat is bad, because it makes you fat, while sugar is harmless. What a catastrophic mistake that was – too big to dismiss as a myth. It was, at least partly, the cause of the dramatic increase in the obesity rates around the world.

Is the Sugar Scare Based on Myth?

This is a potential bombshell to come, which  deserves its own separate section, given its importance. Robert Lustig, the American doctor who has led the onslaught on sugar,  has done a brilliant job at making its dangers known around the world. Sugar has come to be considered among many people as not only bad for you, but a supremely evil substance, worse than most of the best-known addictive drugs. Dr Lustig has many  well-known doctors and others supporting him in this.

There are, though, quite a number of  well-known professionals who strongly dispute the unique evil of sugar. They do not say that it is good for you  –  just that it is another food, it has little or no nutrients and is not specially bad. If you have too much of it, you will gain weight. Same as if you eat too much of most other foods.

10 Dieting Myths:  (Generally Considered So)

They come and go every month. Some new theories on how to lose weight and which turn out to be myths last for years, others come and go practically in a week-end. Some are so absurd that you have to wonder how it is that a lot of people believed them.

The following are well-known myths. In some cases, they are only partial myths or there is doubt as to whether they may not turn out to be true.

Myth 1  –  Overweight and obesity are inherited:

It is not strictly true to call this a myth. At least, not a complete myth. Scientists working on the causes of overweight and obesity believe that genes may be responsible in some cases – but only in a small number of cases. Mostly, they believe, overweight and obesity are caused by a bad diet and/or lack of physical activity. The young are not only exposed to these things at home, but they also acquire the same habits for later life.

It remains true that, in the case of obesity at least, the majority of obese people did have at least one obese parent. This doesn´t mean that they were fated to be obese, but it does mean that to avoid it they would have had to work harder.

Myth 2  –  Diets do not work:

It is a myth that diets in general do not work. (Though some are dangerous.) Most diets work in that they involve lowering the number of calories consumed to below the number used up by activity. This is usually true whatever the theoretical basis of the diet. Weight must, therefore, fall. What is true is that some years after finishing their diets, the vast majority of people who lost weight on a diet have put it all back on again.

Myth 3  –  Fast weight loss programmes do not work:

They can do, specially in the early stages of a more sustainable diet. They provide a jump-start and help to increase motivation. Ultimately, some years after the diet, practically everyone who lost weight on a diet had put it all on again.

Myth 4  –  Fats make you fat:

Such an obvious, even delightful idea. Of course fats must make you fat.  It was decided in the late 1980´s that this was so and measures were take! To curb fat intake. What a disaster that was, as manufacturers responded to problems on producing tasty food by increasing the sugar content of their products.

But fats are essential for the body, which needs three nutrients to function well. Protein, carbohydrates and fats. Not all fats are good, of course, just as not all proteins or carbs are good, but the body does need fats. Just like all food, it needs some fats, but if you want to keep your weight down, you need to moderate the amount you consume.

Diet myths do not include sardines

Healthy sardines: check the liquid they´re canned in!

Trans fats should definitely be avoided and this should not be difficult if you think about what they are called when formed during a manufacturing process: partially hydrogenated oil. They are definitely bad news!

Another common type of dietary fats are saturated fats and there is still a considerable difference of opinion as to whether or not they are bad for humans.  They are typically found in meat, cheese and other dairy products and their rehabilitation would be good news as it would mean the return of butter!

It does seem likely that fats, other than trans fats, will be fully rehabilitated soon. Eaten in moderation, of course, specially if on a weight reduction diet.

Myth 5  –  Low-fat or fat-free foods help in weight loss

It´s calories (and activity) that ultimately count in weight reduction or control. Many low-fat or fat-free foods are actually heavy in calories. This is specially true where manufacturers have removed fat, but replaced it with sugar and thickeners for reasons of taste and texture.

Myth 6  –  Small frequent meals increase metabolism:

There is no reason to believe this idea, which is based on the theory that eating frequently keeps your metabolism going, instead of it shutting down between meals.

Myth 7  –  Myths on the diet benefits of certain foods:

There have been, or are,  such myths about:

     Grapefruit and kelp:   Both were said to “burn off” body fat.

Diet myths do not include the benefits of dairy products

Some of our best friends for keeping us healthy

     Dairy products:   Because of the calcium which was said to help the body in breaking down fats, for a while dairy products were thought to help weight loss –  but another theory was that dairy products were fattening and not at all healthy. Some said that fat-free dairy products were absolutely fine, but more recently it is said that full-fat is best.

Dairy products are actually packed with nutrients, so, in general, people should not give them up.

     Meat:    Is unhealthy by many and to cause weight gain:   It contains some healthy nutrients and if lean is (probably) healthy.

     Potatoes and other high-carb foods:   Certainly, on a low-carbohydrate diet you can´t eat many potatoes – and you have to moderate consumption of other high-carb foods as well,  like pasta or rice.  Carbs are, however, the body´s main energy source and they do not automatically cause you to put on weight. If on a diet, do not overeat carbs – or anything els  – and be careful with sauces or butter you put on them. There is nothing wrong with eating pasta in moderation, despite the erroneous idea that the body turns them into sugars, which are then stored as fat. Note, though, that vegetables and fruits are carbohydrates and you most certainly should not give them up, whether on a diet or not.

     Bananas:   Listed as a myth, but actually not really a myth at all! Bananas may be considered as fattening, because a single banana usually has more than 100 calories and a large one can even reach 150 calories.  Bananas do have more sugar, and hence a few more calories, than most fruits, but. as well as providing a  good dose of energy, they are packed with healthy nutrients.  If you are on a diet and counting calories, you need to ensure that you into account the calories in any bananas that you have eaten. Otherwise, eat bananas and enjoy them!

     Frozen and canned vegetables and fruits contain less vitamins:   Usually, frozen or canned fruit or vegetables contain just as many vitamins and other nutrients as fresh. In fact, often they contain more, specially because it tends to be the best quality that is canned or frozen, and they are usually packed within a short time of picking. “Fresh” produce has often had to travel a long way from the fields to the shop and is anything but “fresh” by the time to buy it. From a dietary point of view, it is important to ensure that canned fruit is not in the sickly sweet syrup that it often comes in. This is almost pure sugar – but the fruit can be bought in juice rather than syrup.

Myth 8  –  Food eaten at night leads to weight increase:

This idea has a spurious logic behind it:  more of the food eaten in the evening will be stored as fat because it will not be used up by activity while asleep. This is incorrect! It´s actually the total calories you eat over the course of time as compared with the calories you burn off by activity that determines whether you gain or lose weight. Having a heavy meal shortly before going to bed may affect how well you sleep, but it is highly unlikely to affect your weight.

Myth 9  –  Sugar is more fattening than honey:

This is widely believed but is untrue. Honey, in fact, contains more calories than sugar – many more! The health benefits of honey have been wildly exaggerated and it is not far wrong to think of it as almost pure sugar. If you like the taste, then use it sparingly.

Myth 10  –  Cereal bars less fattening that chocolate:  

You would think this was true, specially as they are often sold as “healthy”. But a look at the ingredient label will usually indicate that they contain just as much sugar as chocolate.

Granola bars, say,  have become popular for breakfast or as snacks, being fast to eat and supposedly healthy. A look at the ingredient list will usually show this to be false.  They contain a surprisingly large amount of fat and, of course, they are absolutely packed with sugar. They are usually considered as containing a large amount of fiber, but this too is a myth, as they contain little fiber. Helping with weight control? One small granola bar can easily contain 260 calories!


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“Hangover Cure Miracle: Milk and Cucumber”   –      AnnieAnniePancake                Other images:   –   pixabay