There are a lot of diet myths. Here are 10 of the most common myths and the truth behind the fiction.
1. Very low calorie diets are the best way to lose weight.
A very low calorie diet will cause your body to go into starvation mode. Once your body is in starvation mode, your metabolism will slow down, you'll lose muscle as your body starts using muscle for energy, and your body will start storing fat instead of burning it. You have to cut back on calories in order to lose weight, but you should never drastically reduce calories.
2. All fat is bad.
The truth is that the body needs fat in order to function properly, but you need to eat the right type of fat. Unsaturated fat is healthy fat that can lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduce the risk for heart disease. Some saturated fat is needed by the body, but too much can raise LDL cholesterol and increase the risk for heart disease. Trans fat raises LDL cholesterol, lowers HDL (good) cholesterol, and increases the risk for heart disease and some types of cancer.
3. Carbohydrates make you fat.
What makes you fat is eating more calories than your body needs, regardless of if the calories come from carbohydrates, fats or proteins. Carbohydrates are the body's primary energy source, so they need to be a part of your diet. But some people are more carbohydrate sensitive than others, and they would need to limit their intake of carbohydrates when trying to lose body fat.
4. Dietary cholesterol causes high blood cholesterol.
The truth is that most of the cholesterol found in the body is produced in the liver and only a small part of it comes from dietary cholesterol. As long as you don't have a genetic predisposition for high cholesterol, dietary cholesterol will most likely have minimal effect on your blood cholesterol level.
5. Eating at night makes you fat.
This is one of the newer diet myths. The truth is that no matter when you eat, if you don't use all of the calories you've consumed your body will store the extra calories as body fat. If you're less active at night, then you need to eat less at night. If you work out at night, especially if you lift weights, then you need to make sure that you eat enough after your workout to fuel muscle recovery and growth. Adjust your food intake based on your energy expenditure.
6. Low-fat or fat-free means low calories.
Even though a gram of fat contains 9 calories and a gram of protein or carbohydrate only contains 4 calories, don't assume all low-fat and fat-free foods are low in calories. Many low-fat and fat-free foods are actually high in calories because sugar and refined starches have been added to them to make up for the lost fat. Don't just check the fat content of your food, also look at the number of calories.
7. Certain foods can burn fat.
This is one of those diet myths that comes and goes. There are some foods, such as fibrous vegetables and lean proteins, that have a high thermic effect and a low calorie density. This means that a lot of the calories in these foods are burned off during digestion. But there are no foods that can burn fat from your body.
8. Brown color equals whole grain.
Just because a food is brown in color doesn't mean it contains whole grain. You need to look on the label to see if "whole wheat" or "whole grain" is one of the listed ingredients.
9. Skim and low-fat milk have less calcium than whole milk.
Skim and low-fat milk actually have more calcium than whole milk because the calcium is in the watery part of the milk, not the creamy part.
10. Diet sodas help you lose weight.
Not necessarily. Even though diet sodas contain little or no calories, recent research strongly suggests that the artificial sweeteners in diet sodas may actually increase your appetite.
In conclusion, don't be fooled by any of these diet myths. Rely on proven information to help you meet your health and fitness goals.
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