There are so many diet facts and myths going around it can be hard to tell truth from fiction. Whether you want to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain your healthy weight, you need to have the correct information. The diet facts and myths that follow are divided into the three categories that are essential to every diet: Food, Exercise, and Eating Habits.
Myth: Diets that focus on one or two foods are best for losing weight.
Fact: A healthy diet includes foods from all the major food groups. If you eliminate any food group you could develop a nutrient deficiency. You will be healthier and happier on a well-balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
Myth: High fructose corn syrup makes you fat.
Fact: Research shows that high fructose corn syrup is probably no worse than sugar for weight management. It’s taking in more calories than you use up that makes you fat—not which food the calories come from.
Myth: I can lose weight safely by eating meal substitutes instead of regular meals.
Fact: Replacing one or two meals or snacks a day with meal substitutes or meal replacements for a limited period of time can be an effective way to lose weight. However, meal substitutes are not meant to replace all your food. Very low calorie diets (VLCD) may rely on meal replacements entirely, but these diets require medical supervision.
Myth: One great way to reduce sodium intake is to substitute sea salt for regular table salt.
Fact: Sea salt is no healthier than table salt. If you want to reduce your sodium intake check the nutrition information on the labels of processed foods and buy the ones with lower sodium per serving.
Myth: You need to give up most of your favorite foods in order to lose weight.
Fact: People are more likely to keep to a diet that includes some of their favorite foods. If they are high-calorie foods you might want to eat them less often or eat smaller portions, but don’t make it harder on yourself by cutting them out completely. Besides, if your favs aren’t in your meal plan there’s a good chance you will crave them and “cheat” on your diet.
Myth: Vegetarians are thin because they do not eat meat.
Fact: You can be a vegetarian and be overweight. There are plenty of foods that are meatless and still high calories and high fat. Meat or no meat, choosing nutritional, low-fat, low-calorie foods is the key to shedding pounds and keeping them off.
Myth: Certain foods, like cabbage and grapefruit, burn body fat fast.
Fact: No foods burn body fat. Some foods increase metabolism for a short time, but not enough to have an effect on weight. Eating a well-balanced diet and exercising more is the best way to lose weight.
Diet Myths and Facts about Exercise
Myth: If I really cut down on my food I can lose weight without exercising.
Fact: There is no way around it; to lose weight and keep the pounds off you have to move your body. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week.
Myth: You really need to go to a gym to get the exercise you need to lose weight.
Fact: Bicycling, walking, and running are three of many physical activities that you can do without going to the gym.
Myth: The best exercises for losing weight are aerobic exercises and interval training.
Fact: The best exercise for weight loss is the exercise you will do. Aerobic exercises and interval training are great, but be realistic about whether or not you will do them regularly. Find a physical activity you enjoy.
Diet Facts and Myths about Eating Habits
Myth: Eating at night makes you fat.
Fact: Just because eating breakfast within a few hours of waking is good for weight management does not mean eating at night is bad for controlling your weight. For most people taking in more calories than you use up is what makes you fat, not when you eat.
Myth: Sleeping less helps you lose weight.
Fact: The truth is that nutritionists recommend seven and one-half to eight and one-half hours of sleep per night for losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight. Your body functions more efficiently when it’s had enough rest.
Myth: You can lose weight faster by skipping a meal a day.
Fact: If you skip a meal you are more likely to binge on high calorie foods before your next meal.
Myth: It’s easier to keep pounds off if you lose them quickly.
Fact: Studies have shown, again and again, that you are more likely to gain weight back if you lose it fast. For most people, slow and steady weight loss of one or at most two pounds a week works best for long-term weight loss.
Myth: If I just switch to low-fat foods I will surely lose weight.
Fact: Reducing your fat intake is a good idea if you want to lose weight. But many low-fat foods contain sugar or starch (carbohydrates) to make up for the lower fat, so you may not be saving yourself any calories with the low-fat products.
Myth: Eat fast to lose weight.
Fact: When you eat slowly you can notice when you are full and stop eating then. People tend to eat less and feel more satisfied when they eat slowly.
Telling Fact from Fiction
You need to be a detective to separate diet facts and myths. Don’t take dietary plans and product claims on face value. Check them out with reputable health agencies and ask your healthcare provider. If a claim seems too good to be true, it probably is.