We are bombarded daily by the do’s and dont’s of proper eating. Tune into any daytime television show and there’s a discussion going on about healthy eating. But despite the constant stream of experts trying to scare us thin, there are several dieting myths that keep us fat.
Here are 6 of the beliefs that sabotage our success despite our best intentions:
1. SKIPPING BREAKFAST
Myth – Not having breakfast encourages your body to burn fat
Fact – Thin people eat breakfast; fat people don’t‘
Missing breakfast leads to overeating later in the day as blood sugar drops mid-morning, making you more compulsive around food and less likely to resist that double mocha and danish. Plus, you are more likely to binge at night as your body plays catch-up on missed calories, making you more likely to store the calories as fat.
2. WEEKEND BINGING
Myth – If you eat healthily all week, it’s fine to treat yourself at weekends
Fact – Even after five days of restraint, two days of freestyle carbicide will make you gain weight
Carbs are first stored as glucose and water, and will turn into fat if it isn’t worked off, so you’ll need to do extra exercise during the week.
To avoid the temptation to binge, pepper your working week with small amounts of what you love to eat, maybe a nice glass of wine, some cheese and a few squares of dark chocolate.
3. DIET DRINKS
Myth – Diet drinks have no calories so they won’t impact on weight
Fact – People who drink diet drinks are fatter than those who don’t
A study from the University of Texas Health Science Centre found that people who drank 21 diet drinks a week were twice as likely to be overweight.
Another study that followed diet drinkers over a ten-year period found their waists grew a staggering 70 per cent more than non-diet drinkers’ waistlines.
‘Diet drinks feed a sweet tooth. When the body receives a sweet taste without the calories it expects, it triggers sweet cravings that make you eat more.
Sweeteners have also been shown to have a similar effect to real sugar on blood glucose and insulin levels.
4. ‘BUT IT’S HEALTHY’
Myth – I can eat as much healthy food as I like
Fact – Healthy food has calories too
Hummus, pistachios and peanuts contain healthy fats but come with masses of calories and often fail the ‘eat just one’ test. Such foods can act as triggers for those with a tendency to overeat.
Being “healthy” doesn’t give people carte blanche to completely ignore calories.
5. FAT PHOBIA
Myth – Avoid fat if you want to lose weight
Fact – Successful dieters get 30 per cent of their daily calories from fat
Studies show that the tiny ten per cent of people who lose weight and keep it off eat moderate amounts of fat.
When dieters avoid fat, they are hungry all the time. Dieters’ obsession with low-fat products merely fuels a craving for fatty foods, and that’s why they end up bingeing on cakes, cookies and ice cream – all sources of the fat the body needs.
Low-fat food is pointless for people wanting to lose weight because when real fat is removed, something needs to be added to retain taste and texture – ‘usually sugar and flour, which provide calories but are nutritionally poor’.
6. DIETS, Full Stop
Myth – Diets work for long-term weight loss
Fact – 90% of yo-yo dieters don’t keep the weight off
Most people can’t tolerate rigid dieting for long so once it’s inevitably stopped, weight goes on a little more than before.
‘Then you go on another diet, lose again, stop and go a little higher still. That is how crash dieters gain more and more weight over time.
‘The body thinks it’s starving so, to compensate, will switch on all the mechanisms it has to store food.’
‘One of these is hormones. Last October, a University of Melbourne study of 50 overweight women and men showed that after dieting, our hormone levels start to work overtime and react as though our bodies are starving.
The bottom line: dieting was making them hungrier.
What you should do ‘The only diets that have been proven effective for long-term weight loss in randomized controlled studies are those that focus on higher amounts of protein and vegetables, and limit carbohydrates to those with a low glycemic index.
Losing weight isn’t rocket science. Common sense rules. You will gain weight if you take in more calories than you burn off. Make sure you include exercise in your healthy living routine.
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