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8 Diet Myths Exposed
Will a grapefruit really shrink your waistline?
Some tips are helpful for weight loss, but some are just plain misleading. For example, a grapefruit for breakfast every morning will not solve your 10-kilos-too-many woes.
Fine tune your weight-control knowledge by checking out the facts and fictions of these popular dieting tips.
Did you know you can lose weight online, and access the CalorieKing.com.au Program (13 weeks of practical information on all aspects of weight control)? Learn more
Myth: Skipping meals leads to weight loss
Start the day with a healthy breakfast
Ever met one of those people who repeatedly and proudly say: "I haven’t eaten anything all day. I skipped breakfast and lunch!" They probably think this translates to great self-control and slimmer thighs.
The short of it: It’s a proven fact that people who eat a nutritious breakfast are better-off in terms of health and weight than those who skip out. Erratic eating habits disrupt normal metabolic functions. When you don't eat for a long period (this can be hours, not days) your body thinks it’s starving and begins to slow down to conserve energy (calories) for future use. Your body is taken by surprise when you suddenly overload it, because it’s still in storage mode and can’t metabolise efficiently. The end result is that you become a fat-storing machine. In order to lose weight and keep it off, you need to be a fat-burning machine.
Prove your self-control by preparing a healthy breakfast every day of the week, instead of skipping it.
Myth: A little won't hurt
The short of it: Although portion size is a very important consideration when dieting, you have to remember that what’s in the portion also makes a difference. Just because it’s a small amount, doesn’t mean it doesn’t count. Chips are very high in fat and calories, and any of the nutritional qualities of the original potato are well-frazzled during the frying process. Choosing a baked jacket potato instead will fill you up as well as save you lots of calories and fat. Likewise, “just a sliver” of cheesecake or a “spoonful” of chocolate ice cream could cost you hundreds of calories each.
Another trap that “just a little” leads to is “just a little bit more.” You need to keep counting those calories to stay aware of what you’re eating and successfully control your weight.
Myth: Liquids donít really count
When you’re counting calories, it’s easier to dismiss a glass of orange juice than a muffin. If you drink lots of juice, soft drink, lattes, and milk, it feels like you’re not really eating. But the calories don’t know whether you’re chewing them or not!
The short of it: Water is the only truly calorie-free drink that exists, and it’s good for you, so drink up! Black tea and black coffee are also very low in calories, but as soon as you start adding sugar, milk, creamers and cappuccino foam to them, they quickly become cupfuls of calories.
For example, a large Gloria Jeans Mocha Caramel Latte has nearly 450 calories! A skim milk Café Latte still has 116. Orange juice, milk, and soft drink also have significant calorie values.
If you are trying to lose weight, don’t forget to count what you slurp, as well as what you munch.
Myth: Carbohydrates make you fat
People who believe this myth won't touch a potato (100 calories, 0g fat), but then proceed to eat a 400g steak for dinner (550 calories, 24g fat). They’ll refuse a hamburger bun (150 calories, 2g fat) but take an extra meat patty to make up for it (200 calories, 15g fat).
The short of it: The calorie counts say it all – a 550-calorie steak will make you gain more weight than a 100-calorie potato. Simple. It’s the calories that make the difference to your waistline, not the carbs.
Cutting out carbohydrates can also mean missing out on vital nutrients from healthy carbohydrate foods which should be part of any well-balanced diet, especially those from fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
If you’re considering a low-carb diet for weight loss, remember to count your calories and make sure you get enough nutrients for health needs - including carbohydrates. 40 - 60 percent of your daily calorie intake should come from carbohydrates.
Myth: Eating extra protein will increase muscle growth
Strength training is a better way to build muscle
If you've ever visited a gym and seen the displays of protein powders and bars, it's easy to see how you could fall for this myth. Many people overeat protein-rich foods in the hope of bulking up their muscles.
The short of it: While protein is essential for keeping your body healthy and does play an important role in building and maintaining muscle, excess amounts of protein will be stored as fat - just like overeating any other food is.
The best way to build muscle is to do regular strength training, and have a healthy calorie intake. Your body needs a good balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats.
CalorieKing recommends a protein intake of 15 - 20% of your daily calorie intake.
Myth: If you're watching your weight, don't eat after eight
Does eating at night really cause your body to store more fat because it doesn't have the chance to burn it off through activity?
The short of it: Studies have shown that your body stores extra calories as fat no matter what time of the day you consume them. What’s important is how many calories you eat during the whole day and how many you burn off. Your calorie intake doesn’t change just because you eat after eight! And your body doesn’t store more fat because it’s night time.
The morsel of truth to this myth is that people who eat little or nothing during the day and then consume all their calories in the evening are often more overweight than those who eat regular meals spread throughout the day. That’s because regular meals help to control appetite and metabolism. Eating close to bedtime can also interfere with sleeping patterns.
Myth: Bananas, carrots, watermelon, and tomatoes are loaded with sugar
It’s been said that these foods should be avoided when you’re trying to lose weight because they are higher in sugar than other fruits and vegetables.
The short of it: Come on! You’d have to eat 8 cups of chopped carrot to get as much sugar as you get from just two glazed donuts. It’s really a question of relativity: Arnold Schwarzenegger probably feels tall until he stands next to Shaq O’Neal, and a banana is sugary until you put it next to a Mars Bar. Carrots and tomatoes may have 5-10 more calories per serve than broccoli, but compare them to a bag of corn chips or a handful of chocolate-coated peanuts and you’ll realise there’s nothing to worry about!
Myth: You should never eat chocolate if you're trying to lose weight
A Cherry Ripe bar has 250 calories and 13g of fat - surely that can't be good for your diet? If you're the type of person who thinks that the only way you can lose weight is by banishing all of your favourite chocolates, snacks and alcoholic drinks, you might be in for a surprise.
The short of it: Telling yourself that you can't have something is a sure way to make yourself really want it! And you can bet that if you give in, you don't just have one piece of chocolate, you end up bingeing.
A better approach is to allow yourself treats from time to time. Keep them as treats to be enjoyed occasionally, not everyday staples. Account for them in your daily calories and you can enjoy them without guilt and without gaining weight.
Doing a little extra exercise can also help you have more calories left for treats. For example, you could burn off 100 calories by taking a 30-minute walk, and enjoy a glass of your favourite wine with dinner.
However, if one taste makes you devour the rest without another thought, then your trigger foods are best left alone! Stick to treats that you can control.
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Last updated: February 1st, 2007
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