There are so many ways to get nutrition advice these days – the internet especially has a wealth of information available to everyone. You also get nutrition advice from your doctor, infomercials, television shows, your friends and family, the health food store employee, and the news. Some people who are reporting on a nutrition topic may not know fully understand the information themselves. Some of those who are talking about nutrition are trying to sell a product such is vitamins, supplements, cookbooks, etc. So what should we believe?
Let’s set the record straight and get to the bottom of some of the most common diet myths.
Myth: Certain foods will make you burn calories
Fact: I have had people ask if eating celery will actually make you burn calories, saying celery has “negative” calories. This is simply a myth. You will never burn off more calories than the food contains, simply by eating the food.
Myth: If you eat after 7 or 8pm, you will gain weight
Fact: It is simply calories in versus calories out. It will not matter what time of the day you eat. If you are consuming more calories than you are burning, no matter what time of day, you will gain weight.
Myth: If you don’t eat fat, you won’t gain weight
Fact: It is easy to go overboard with fat intake. And yes, if too much fat is consumed, it will contribute to weight gain. However, fat is an important nutrient that our body needs and it can actually help with weight loss by increasing satiety, helping you feel full so you will eat less. Remember, fat has more calories per gram than carbohydrates and protein. There is nothing wrong with cutting back on your fat intake, but cutting it out completely will not help with weight loss.
Myth: Low carbohydrate/high protein diets are the healthiest way to lose weight
Fact: When most of your calories come from high protein/high fat foods, you are not consuming a balanced diet. Eating mostly foods such as meat, eggs, and cheese may cause you to consume too much fat and cholesterol, raising your risk for heart disease. You may also not be getting enough fiber, vitamins and minerals, and may not be eating enough fruits and vegetables. This type of diet may cause quick weight loss, but it is not long term. The best thing to do is eat a reduced calorie diet that includes a balance of fat, protein, and carbohydrates.
Myth: Skipping meals will help you lose weight
Fact: Skipping meals can cause you to feel hungrier and cause you to eat more than you normally would at a meal. Research studies have shown that people who eat less throughout the day and skip meals weigh more than people to eat 4-5 times per day.
These are just some of the diet myths that exist today. There are many more myths and misleading information out there. So who can you trust? You can trust what you read or see on the television or other media source if it is written by a registered dietitian, quotes sources such as the Dietary Guidelines, MyPyramid, or other government sources. Be weary if the main goal is to sell a product, the authors are “nutritionists” or “nutrition counselors”, or the source recommends fad diets, fasting or large doses of a certain supplement.
Shelly Edens is a registered dietitian at Memorial Hospital.