When we hear the same information over a long period of time from a variety of sources, we rarely questions its validity. But information regarding our health and wellness changes as more research is conducted and health care professional gain more knowledge. So I wanted to make this post to debunk some of the common myths that people still believe that are no longer true.
1) “Eat a Low Fat Diet, because Fat is Bad” – When you see “Low fat” that should be your que to put it down! You can think of low fat as code for “chemical storm!” When companies make foods low fat, they often replace the fat with more sugar and/or sodium to enhance the flavor. You don’t need to ban all fat. The fats you want to avoid are saturated and trans fats. Both are often found in red meats and processed foods. But there are fats that do not raise cholesterol or increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Instead try to consume more Omega-3 heart healthy fats, which help to rebuild cells and will keep you fuller and more satisfied. Some examples are olive oil, salmon, or avocad
2) “If You Exercise, You Can Eat Whatever You Want” – The weight loss equation is simple, calories in versus calories out. To lose one pound of fat per week, you must maintain a calorie deficit of 500 calories a day for 7 days, which is 3,500 calories. So it takes a 3,500 calorie deficit to lose one pound per week. It’s common to underestimate the amount of calories we consume and overestimate the amount of calories we burn. This is why it’s helpful to use an app such as MyFitnessPal to calculate calories and using a device, such as a FitBit or a Polar watch to track calories burned. You cannot outwork a poor diet
3) “A Calorie is a Calorie” – While that is mathematically true, not all calories are created equal. You want to focus on the quality of your food. Consume more foods that are nutrient dense and contain micronutrients, such as fiber, which helps keep you full. You can have a candy bar or a turkey sandwich, but which option will give you the fuel you need?
4) “Eat Less to Lose More Weight” – This is not the way to go! Calorie restriction is dangerous, because you actually risk slowing down your metabolism. Over time, your body may go into starvation mode, because it does not know when it will get more food. You will end up stalling your weight loss efforts. Instead, aim to eat 4-5 times per day. It’s not about eating less, but about eating better. As a general rule, if you are a woman trying to lose weight, your daily minimum calorie intake should not be less than 1,200 calories. Again, this is when MyFitnessPal will come in handy because you can enter in your information and the app will tell you how many calories to consume per day to reach your goal
5) “Supplements Will do All the Work” – If you aren’t doing your part by changing your diet and exercising, then supplements will not be of any value to you. Supplements are used to enhance your results and should be used in addition to what you’re already doing
6) “Stick to This Diet to Lose 5 Pounds a Week!” – Diets are restrictive and will only lead to short-term results. They are a quick fix. Instead focus on a long-term lifestyle change. Consider what is sustainable for you, because what you do to lose the weight is what you will have to do to keep the weight off. So do you really want to be on the “cabbage soup” diet forever? I know when I tried to go “low carb/Atkins,” I felt deprived and frustrated, which only led me to gaining all the weight back plus more
7) “Weight Yourself Daily” – You will drive yourself crazy if you do this! Change your relationship with the scale. Your success is not tied to the number on the scale. It’s important to also focus on non-scale victories as indicators of your success. For instance, focus on how you feel, how well your clothes fit, how you look, etc. When I was losing weight, I would weight myself once a week at my Weight Watchers meetings. There are several factors that could impact the scale such as fluid retention or if you’re doing strength training. Muscle weighs more than fat, so you may not notice the number on the scale decreasing. But, you may instead notice that your clothes are fitting better and you look more toned and defined. Snatched!
8) “If the Label Says ‘All Natural,’ It’s Healthy” – The term “natural” is not clearly defined or regulated by any entity. So, technically any company can make that claim on almost any product to influence your buying decision. Instead, look for terms such as “Organic” or “Non-GMO.” Those terms are regulated and companies must prove their product meets certain standards before making that claim on their product labels
9) “Carbs are the Enemy”! – All foods have carbs, so you really can’t eliminate all carbs. Carbs provide your body with the fuel you need to sustain you through workouts and your daily life. Focus on consuming complex carbs that do not cause an immediate blood sugar spike and will keep you full for a longer period of time. Some of my favorites include brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato (mashed, baked, fries), acorn squash, butternut squash, plantains, spaghetti squash, gluten-free oatmeal, and gluten-free whole-grain bread
10) “You Can Spot Reduce and Just Lose Your Stomach” – You cannot spot reduce. I repeat! You cannot spot reduce! You must lose overall body fat. You have to burn the fat off your midsection first before you start seeing more definition. A clean diet will be key to helping you see more ab definition. There are many ab exercises you can incorporate into your workouts to give you more definition. Abs are also genetic, so you may not end up getting the same abs as your favorite fitness inspiration
11) “You Need a Gym Membership” – When I first started, I used DVD’s, I ran outside and I also purchased a treadmill. Over time, I’ve added to my home gym. Click here to see the post on my home gym! Other inexpensive options include taking your workouts outside, following YouTube videos or getting a gym membership from Planet Fitness, which is only $10/month. They have a trainers who can assist with developing a regimen and show you how to use the equipment
12) “Don’t Eat After 7pm!” – Ummm….last I checked, calories couldn’t tell time. If you consume more calories than your body needs, then that is when you will gain weight. So if you come home late and you’re hungry, then eat! Don’t deprive yourself. Listen to your body. If you don’t eat before bed, you may wake up feeling ravenous the next morning and eating more than you would have if you hadn’t skipped dinner
What are some diet myths you’ve heard that you later discovered were false?