5 shocking diet myths
Myth: If you eat less you lose more
If you want to lose weight surely you need to eat a lot less? Well, that’s not exactly true. By going on one of these ‘crash diets’ or ‘fad diets’ where you cut your calorie intake drastically you may find that you lose weight initially. However, when you eat a lot less than you need your metabolism slows down and once you return to eating normally again your body will not burn off the calories as quickly as it used to do. Therefore when your crash diet ends normally dieters regain the weight.
Plus crash diets are bad for you because eating the same foods repeatedly means that you are depriving your body of other essential vitamins and minerals, which means your body cannot function as it should. This deprivation can also lead to muscle loss, which is bad news if you want to lose weight because the more muscle mass you have the more calories you expend when performing physical activities. Therefore by losing muscle you’ll burn less and inevitably lose less weight too.
Myth: If you exercise lots you can eat what you like
Exercise is associated with weight loss and, although exercise will help you keep weight off in the long term, exercise on its own is often not enough to help you to shift the pounds you want to lose. This is because it takes a lot of effort, time and energy to burn off all of the necessary calories to lose weight. For example, to burn 100 calories you will need to spend around 60 minutes exercising. So that’s 60 minutes exercising to burn off a small snack or 50g of wholemeal bread – clearly then exercise alone is not enough if you want to lose weight.
The MayoClinic also support this theory, suggesting that studies show ‘an exercise regimen… is unlikely to result in short-term weight loss beyond what is achieved with dietary change’. So if you want to lose weight you need to change your diet and exercise.
Myth: Cutting dairy helps you lose weight
If you want to lose weight would you eat cheese or drink full fat milk? If you wouldn’t then you may need to reassess your diet. Researchers at the Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville found that low-fat calcium foods can actually help to reduce body fat and that fat cells that contain more calcium will burn more fat. The researchers believe that calcium can therefore help encourage the burning of fat opposed to the storing of fat.
Dairy products are also great for dieters because it is thought that not getting enough calcium causes your body to produce more fat, which would obviously inhibit weight loss. Interestingly, in the study held at the Nutrition Institute, it was found that taking calcium supplements did not produce the same benefits as actually eating dairy products. So if you want to lose weight it might be time to tuck into some natural yoghurt and honey or have a delicious fruit smoothie made from fruit, milk and ice.
Myth: Eating late at night will make you gain more weight
A lot of people believe that eating after a certain time in the evening will lead them to gain weight because they do not get the opportunity to burn off the food they’ve just eaten. According to a study conducted at Dunn Nutrition Centre though, this may just be another diet myth. To test this theory researchers gave participants a smaller lunch and a larger evening meal for a period of time and measured the amount of fat the participants’ bodies stored. Then the researchers gave the participants a larger lunch and a smaller evening meal, again measuring the participants’ fat levels.
The results indicated that there was no link between when people ate and the amount of fat stored. Another study conducted by Oregon Health & Science University found similar findings, when they did a study on monkeys.
Myth: I put on all this weight over Christmas
Although we all like to indulge at certain points during the year, surprisingly weight gain is actually a slow process and it is unlikely that we put on a lot of weight during those times we indulge or splurge.
This is because in order to put on one pound of weight we need to consume an extra 3,500 calories. Yet the average Christmas dinner, which is generally the most indulgent meal of the year, is thought to amount to around 1,500 calories. For those people who feel like they’ve piled on the pounds the weight is more likely to be the result of fluid. So, if you have a diet slip up don’t feel guilty. That chocolate treat won’t sabotage your progress as long as you go back to a healthy diet and exercise after your little indulgence.
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