Five Common Diet Myths Exposed


William Plower: Five Common Diet Myths Exposed

Every time a new fad diet comes out, people jump on the bandwagon believing that this one will be the one that actually works. We desperately want it to be true.

Sadly, fad diets don’t work. The truth is that two-thirds of adults in our country are overweight, including one-third who are clinically obese. That’s double the numbers from 30 years ago. Yet, in the desire to lose weight, people have spent more than $40 billion on diet-related products and quick-fixes each year.

They’ve wasted their money. The time, effort and money spent on weight-loss haven’t worked. Americans are still overweight and obese.

Don’t believe the lies. Here are some of the common diet myths, and the facts you need to know.

Diet Myth 1: You can lose weight permanently through fad diets.

Fact: Although fad diets usually promise fast and easy weight loss, they are not a good way to lose weight or keep it off.  They require either that you eat only certain foods, or that you avoid many types of food. You may actually lose weight at first. But these diets are difficult to follow because of the limitations, and most people quickly tire of them. Once the diet ends, any weight lost is usually gained right back.

A problem with fad diets is that they are often unhealthy. If they don’t provide the essential vitamins and nutrients your body needs, they will harm you more than help you. It isn’t healthy to lose weight too quickly either. More than 3 pounds per week can increase your risk for developing an abnormal heart rhythm which can be fatal. It can also increase your chances of getting gallstones.

Tip: The best way to lose weight, and keep it off, is to lose to 2 pounds per week by eating healthy foods, using portion control, and maintaining regular physical activity. These healthy choices may also lower your risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease, among other potential illnesses.

Diet Myth 2: Natural or herbal weight-loss products are safe and effective.

Fact: Just because a weight-loss product claims to be “natural” or “herbal” does not make it safe. These products are often untested, either for safety or effectiveness. For example, herbal products containing ephedra (now banned by the U.S. Government) have caused serious health problems and even death. New products that claim to be ephedra-free are not necessarily any safer, because they can contain ingredients similar to ephedra.

Tip: Talk with your health care provider before using any weight-loss product, including herbal and natural diet products.

Diet Myth 3: High protein/low carbohydrate diets are safe and effective.

Fact: We don’t really know all of the long-term health effects of a high-protein/low-carbohydrate diet. But getting most of your calories from high-protein foods like meat, eggs, and cheese is not a balanced eating plan. Too much fat and cholesterol in your diet may increase your risk of heart disease and other health problems.

Your body needs carbohydrates. A lack of them can lead to ketosis, the build-up of partially broken-down fats. There are illnesses associated with not enough carbohydrates in a diet, such as gout (a painful swelling of joints,) and a risk of kidney stones. It is especially important that pregnant women and people with kidney disease and diabetes include carbohydrates in their diet.

Tip: High-protein/low-carbohydrate diets may cause short-term weight loss, because the limited food choices often result in reduced calorie consumption. But a well-balanced, reduced-calorie eating plan and using a portion plate for portion control will also allow you to lose weight and provide the variety of foods you need to stay healthy.

Diet Myth 4: Starchy foods should be limited when dieting because they are fattening.

Fact: Many foods exist that are high in starch and also low in calories. Foods including rice, pasta, beans and fruits, when eaten in small quantities, are an important part of your diet. These contain complex carbohydrates that provide a vital source of energy for your body. Certainly there are things to avoid that only add calories to starchy foods, such as high fat toppings, including sour cream and butter.

Tip: Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains into your diet, as well as protein from lean meats, fish, poultry, beans, nuts and eggs. Be sure to avoid trans fats, saturated fats, cholesterol, sodium from salt, and added sugars.

Diet Myth 5: There are specific foods that are high fat burners, including celery, grapefruit, and cabbage soup, which will aid in weight loss.

Fact: It would be nice, but in fact, there aren’t any foods that burn fat. There are certain things in foods, such as caffeine, that may speed up your metabolism (the way your body uses energy from calories,) but they do not cause weight loss.

Tip: Weight loss success comes from increased physical activity and reducing your caloric intake. Portion control plates can be very helpful in reducing food consumption.

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2 Responses to “Five Common Diet Myths Exposed”

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