Diet myths busted

Health & Fitness Nutrition

There are many strange and wonderful ideas about diet and weight loss. Read this article to get the facts.

Myth:
You can achieve permanent weight loss on a fad diet.

Fact:
Fad diets often promise more than they can deliver. You may loose weight at first but diets that restrict certain foods and rely mainly on limited calorie intake rarely get people sticking to them.

A fad diet may also be missing certain nutrients, which could lead to ill health. You could also find yourself loosing weight to quickly and a loss of more than 2kg (3.5lbs) a week could increase your risk of gallstones. Very low calorie diets could result in heart rhythm abnormalities and muscle loss.

What to Do:
The best way to permanently keep your weight off is to aim at losing around 1/2 to 2 lbs a week through sensible eating, smaller portions and plenty of physical exercise. You may also receive other benefits by taking this route such as lower blood pressure, decrease risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Myth:
Low fat means fewer calories.

Fact:
Many low fat foods actually have more calories than their full fat version. Manufacturers often add sugar and starches to improve the flavour and these all contain calories.

What to Do:
Read the labels on the packaging and check the number of calories per serving. Also watch the size of the serving; it may be less than you are used to.

Myth:
The new High-protein/low-carbohydrate diets are one of the best ways to loose weight

Fact:
Every expert in the field of nutrition will tell you that a balanced eating plan is the most effective and safest way to loose weight permanently. To date the effect of a high-protein/low-carbohydrate diet on long-term health is still unknown particularly as many high-protein foods are high in fat and cholesterol. Eating less than 130 grams of carbohydrates can produce an increase in uric acid that can cause gout and kidney stones to form.

This kind of diet is also notorious for making your breath smell and making you feel nauseous. On top of that because you are missing out on fibre rich foods such as fruit and vegetables you will more than likely develop constipation.

What to Do:
Always go for the balanced eating plan. Missing out on essential tasty foods and limiting your diet so drastically will only have the opposite effect of what you want to achieve and that is meals you look forward to that are still low in calories but provide all the nutrients for good health. It is this kind of eating plan that you will be able to follow for rest of your for life.

Myth:
Starches are fattening

Fact:
Potatoes, rice, pasta and cereals are low in calories and fat, it’s the way you cook them or what you drizzle over them that makes them fattening. Foods high in starch (also called complex carbohydrates) are an important source of energy for your body.

What to Do:
Do not stop eating starches, particularly those high in fibre. Just keep the chip pan in cupboard, the mayonnaise in the fridge and watch the size of the portions.

Myth:
Certain foods, like grapefruit can burn fat

Fact:
No foods can burn fat.

What to Do:
Ignore such hype.

Myth:
Herbal products can help you loose weight.

Fact:
No herbal product has been scientifically proved to work and just because its claimed to be natural does not mean its safe.

What to do:
Talk to your GP or nutritionist before embarking on this weight loss route.

Myth:
Skipping meals is a good way to lose weight.

Fact:
Skipping meals, particularly breakfast is not a good idea. This practice can cause blood sugars to drop and cause a craving for sweet things. Not a good idea if you are trying to loose weight. By eating regularly you control the hunger pangs.

What to Do:
Eat four or five small meals a day and include a variety of low fat, low calorie foods.

Myth:
Never eat late in the evening.

Fact:
If you burn off more calories than you eat during the day it doesn’t matter what time you eat. It all comes down to what you eat, how much you eat and how active you are. However some people do get indigestion if they eat late.

What to Do:
Before you make yourself a cheese sandwich in front of the television, think twice. How much have I had to eat today and have I been physically active.

Myth:
Red meats are bad for you.

Fact:
Small portions of lean red meat contain healthy nutrients. Red meat is high in protein, iron and zinc and should not be excluded from a weight loss programme on the grounds that it’s unhealthy and fattening.

What to Do:
Choose only lean cuts. Remember it’s the white bits to avoid, that’s the fat. Keep your servings to around 2-3 ounces of cooked meat.

Myth:
When on a diet, dairy products should be avoided.

Fact:
Dairy products are a great source of protein and calcium. Calcium is extremely important to growing children and older women who can suffer from the bone wasting disease osteoporosis. Low fat and non-fat varieties offer the same nutrients as whole milk dairy products.

What to Do:
Two servings a day (approximately 1-2 ounces of cheese or a cup of milk) of low fat dairy products will still allow you to loose weight on a calorie controlled diet. If you are lactose intolerant choose lactose free products. If you suffer from high cholesterol check with your GP or go for a calcium fortified fruit juice or Soya product.

Myth:
Vegetarians never gain weight and are a lot healthier.

Fact:
On average, vegetarians are healthy and slimmer than their meat- eating counterparts. However they still need to plan their diet carefully as they often miss out on essential nutrients that are abundant in meat such as iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12, zinc and protein.

In today’s fast food society they can still make poor choices that will result in weight gain. To get the flavour, many vegetarian microwave meals are very high in salt and fat and just because you are vegetarian does not mean that you eat less than anyone else. They along with everyone else are governed by the same rule, if you eat more calories than you burn off, you will gain weight.

What to Do:
You do not have to become a vegetarian to lose weight but a planned vegetarian diet is considered to be a healthy option. However for those who choose vegetarianism there are often more complex matters involved than that of losing weight. Often there is a moral issue regarding animal welfare. For many vegetarians it is this very personal reason for the change from meat eater to non-meat eater.

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