There is a lot of misinformation out there about diets and health.
So today, I’ll share ten common dieting myths and misconceptions.
Myth #1: Calories alone are the key to weight loss and health.
The idea that calories are all that matters when it comes to losing weight and being healthy is one of my pet peeves.
Calories are only one piece of the puzzle.
Other nutrients present in food, such as macronutrients (fats, proteins, and carbohydrates) and micronutrients (vitamins, and minerals), are also important, naturally.
Your diet contains macronutrients, which provide calories. You can, however, notice different effects on your body depending on which protein, fat, and carbohydrate you consume. Each of them affects your hormone levels and appetite differently.
You may reduce appetite and cravings by replacing some of the carbs in your diet with protein. Therefore, it may help boost your weight loss efforts.
Besides macronutrients, micronutrients are crucial to overall health.
Health is more than just weight, as we’ll discuss later. Preventing chronic inflammation and chronic diseases starts with the quality of your diet.
So, can you just eat Oreos all day (1400 calories worth) and lose weight? Yeah, but not without some consequences.
You’ll probably lose muscle mass and increase your risk of undernourishment. Over time, nutrient deficiencies can adversely affect your brain’s health, energy levels, stress levels, hair and nail strength, and bone mass.
Plus, as we’ll see later, even when you drop your caloric intake, there are other factors that affect how quickly or easily you can lose weight.
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Myth # 2: Eating certain foods burns fat.
You may have seen this time and time again in magazines and on social media, but no, there is no magical food that can melt fat, sorry.
Some foods, such as green tea and chili peppers, can boost your metabolism a bit. However, eating and drinking these proposed “fat-burning” foods has not proven to make a significant difference in metabolism or fat loss.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that many of these “fat-burning” foods don’t have other nutritional benefits. But, when you eat them, don’t expect to see the inches start melting away.
Myth # 3: Weight loss is a straightforward process with no hiccups
Wouldn’t it be great if you could set calorie and exercise goals and lose a certain amount of weight each week?
When it comes to losing weight, it’s easy to get frustrated and upset that you’ll lose 2 pounds in a week and nothing in the next two weeks. You may even go up in weight!
In theory, it sounds easy to lose weight. But in reality, changing the weight is much more complicated than consuming fewer calories than you burn.
Hormones, stress levels, medical conditions, metabolism, specific medications, and genetics are just a few of the factors that can affect how quickly and easily you can lose weight.
For women, they face even more difficulties when trying to accomplish their goal, of course, not to any fault of their own. Metabolism slows down, especially as women get older, and hormonal changes occur during menopause, which can make it especially difficult to lose weight and body fat.
There are many additional reasons for weight fluctuations, many of which are related to changes in water weight. It can be frustrating, but remember, we are playing the long game and that requires patience. Now, if weeks or months have passed without changing your weight, it’s worth checking your diet and exercise habits to see if there’s anything you can tweak or adjust.
Also, keep in mind that it is perfectly normal (and healthy) for the rate at which you are losing weight to decrease as your goal continues to get closer and closer.
You may have started off losing a couple of pounds every week, but remember, that 2-3 pounds become a large percentage of your weight as you progress. As a result, losing that large percentage of your weight each week may not be healthy for your body. Remember to readjust your current needs and goals, which you can do using the Meta Nutrition App
Myth # 4: To lose weight, you should always exercise on an empty stomach.
Some studies have shown that exercising on an empty stomach increases fat burning during exercise. So you’d think that the research would also show that you can lose weight by exercising on an empty stomach.
However, a lot of studies have not confirmed this. Instead, multiple studies found no significant difference in body weight or fat loss despite increased fat burning. In addition, research shows that if you want to lift heavy weights, you can improve performance and strength by consuming energy (make sure you’re eating a nutritious breakfast that’s high in protein and carbs).
Now, before you go to a spin class and enjoy a full nutritious breakfast, keep in mind that just because you don’t lose additional weight on an empty stomach doesn’t mean you have to eat before working out.
Everybody is different. Personally, eating before training makes me nauseous. For others, if they don’t eat they may find themselves getting dizzy. It may be wiser to wait for a post-exercise snack/meal, which can also help with recovery.
Of course, you can also divide your diet into two smaller snacks, depending on what best suits your body and training goals.
Myth # 5: Supplements help you in your weight loss.
In the united states, the supplement industry alone is worth tens of billions of dollars and rising.
Several supplements are required, such as prenatal vitamins for pregnant women. There are other supplements that rose to fame because they claim to help “increase your metabolism,” to lose weight quickly, of course. (Notice a common theme)
Unfortunately, most of these supplements that give you claims of increasing your metabolism to aid in weight loss will not actually help you lose weight, SURPRISE. Appetite suppressants if not paired with real change in your general diet and physical activity are unlikely to have lasting results long-term if any at all.
A massive warning that you should slow down and truly consider what you are buying is the fact that the FDA does not regulate these supplements, and rarely are any of the things you buy and take FDA approved.
So, you need to be careful and do a lot of research and consult with your doctor before taking supplements because you don’t want to waste your money or worse, take something that can harm you.
You can view 3rd party certifications for quality and accuracy like USP or NSF, there are others out there but be sure they are reputable before trusting their word.
Detox diet also falls to this kingdom. They can help you reduce the weight of some water, but they did not show that they lead to meaningful and sustained weight loss.
Myth #6: If food is white it is less nutritious.
While whole-grain breads are more nutritious than refined white breads, that’s not the case for all white foods
There are actually numerous fruits, veggies, and legumes that are white and also nutritious.
For example, potato, white asparagus, cauliflower, onion, mushroom, parsnip, coconut meat, white beans are all packed with important nutrients for health. Fibers, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
So remember to include white foods when consuming a wide array throughout the day!
Myth # 7: Carbohydrates will cause you to gain weight.
We see it every year, the popular diets bounce between saying you should eat a ton of carbs and you should avoid it like the plague.
Right now the “keto” diet is popular, and while some people see benefits by following a low carb diet, it makes carbs out to be the biggest villain that should never be eaten. That is simply not reality.
Replacing carbs with healthy fats and proteins has been shown to help with weight loss — especially during the early stages.
However, studies found little to no difference in long-term weight loss between various diets.
If you talk about carbohydrates, it is important to distinguish between vegetables, and carbohydrates such as beans and lentils, and sophisticated carbohydrates such as sweet breakfast grains, pastries, and chips.
You may see that it is effective to reduce the intake of carbohydrates, but it is not necessary to cut them out altogether. Instead, just limit your intake of refined carbs and focus on the intake of sophisticated carbohydrates
Myth # 8: While doing “keto” you can eat as much meat as possible
People tend to believe that just because a dish is low-carb that it automatically makes it keto-friendly. While this oftentimes is the case it’s not true 100% of the time.
The purpose of the keto diet is to enter a ketosis state. Simply put, this is when your body uses fat, rather than sugar (glucose), for energy.
We aren’t going to get into the details of ketosis but it is important to realize that carbs aren’t the only way your body gets sugars (glucose).
Your body eventually turns proteins (which you get from meats, poultry, fish, a combination of veggies rice, etc…) into glucose, but it’s not as convenient as breaking down carbs.
So, if you eat a lot of protein your body will use some of that to produce glucose, which defeats the purpose of going into ketosis because it will knock you out of it.
For the keto diet, it is typical to consume 20% all the way up to 35% of the protein in calories. For someone eating 2,400 calories, 25% of calories from protein would be 150 grams.
Even though 25% of calories from protein sources is by no means low protein, it’s vital to be aware of how many carbs you are consuming vs protein when trying to stay in keto.
Myth # 9: Being thin means you are healthy.
There is a general misunderstanding that just because you are thin that it is a perfect indication of your overall health, and that you are healthy. Personally speaking, as someone who’s always been a very thing (up until recently), that is not always the case.
Observational studies have shown that a BMI above 30 increases the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. However, weight and BMI do not guarantee that you are metabolically healthy or unhealthy.
Your weight is only part of your overall health, just as calories are not the only part of your weight loss.
It’s very likely that someone is consuming the number of calories they need to maintain their weight, but they could possibly be getting all the calories from “nonhealthy” sources such as fast food and refined carbs.
Although they can have a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9, metabolically they can raise LDL (bad) cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar levels due to a poor diet. Similarly, a person can have a BMI of over 25 but can exercise regularly, eat a balanced and healthy diet, and keep all lab values within normal limits.
Speaking of being thin, being underweight is also associated with an increased risk of health problems. Especially heart disease and osteoporosis. But, again, just because your BMI is just below 18.5 doesn’t mean you’re in these states or that you don’t meet all your nutritional needs.
Therefore, it is very important not to use weight as an indicator of your health. Instead, diet quality, test values, and body composition (percentage of body fat percentage, muscle, and bone mass density) are much better indicators of overall health.
Myth # 10: Organic goods = Healthy
According to USDA, USDA-certified organic foods include:
… among many factors, it is cultivated and processed according to federal guidelines that take into account soil quality, livestock practices, pest and weed control, and the use of additives. Organic producers rely on natural substances and physical, mechanical or biological cultivation methods as much as possible.
You will notice that this definition does not mention nutrient content.
Currently, some studies have found that certain organic foods have higher levels of nutrients and antioxidants than traditional foods. For example, a meta-analysis found that on average, organic milk contained about 50% more beneficial omega 3 fatty acids than traditional milk.
But even with dietary differences, organic isn’t the only healthy option.
Choosing healthy and nutritious foods rather than choosing cheaper and less nutritious foods simply because organic foods can be more expensive and you can’t afford to buy them It’s much more important to do.
In other words, not eating certain foods is more dangerous to your health than not eating organic foods.
Take fruits and vegetables as an example. Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is much more important than worrying that you can only buy organic produce.
Similarly, food is not healthy just because it is organic.
For example, buying organic cookies does not make them “healthy” foods. They are still biscuits and should be eaten in moderation.
Of course, there are many other reasons why people choose organic foods. In particular, frequent exposure to pesticides is a concern. You can read more about the potential benefits of organic foods in our previous post.
However, talking about nutritional content just because something is organic does not automatically mean that it is a healthy food choice. It is still important to consider the ingredients and nutrients of the food itself.