Some "diet facts" are repeated so often that women can be pretty convinced that they know everything there is to know about fat, carbs and hunger. But when you peel back the platitudes and look at the research, the truth about eating healthy food—and what fills you up and what trims you down can surprise you. Find out the real truth about these common diet myths.
Diet myth 1: Only eat when you're hungry.
Diet facts: Researchers at the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) report that spacing food evenly throughout the day is key to weight-loss success. People who eat healthy food at regular intervals, starting with breakfast, are better nourished, think more clearly and report fewer mood swings than those who eat erratically. Meal skippers are more prone to weight problems probably because once they do eat, they eat too much of all the wrong stuff. People who successfully maintain a healthy weight eat nutritious foods every four to five hours, regardless of whether it's a weekday, weekend or holiday.
People often think they can save calories by skipping meals, but most people more than make up for those saved calories at other times of the day. Keeping track of calories with a food journal is a great way to stay on track throughout the day.
Diet myth 2: There are no bad foods, everything in moderation.
Diet facts: You may have heard that there are no good foods or bad foods, only good and bad diets. But truth be told, some foods just don't stand up nutritionally speaking. For example a potato chip can't hold a candle to a baked potato. And to say there are no bad foods might be a license for some people to eat anything whenever they want.
What's more, if having cookies in the house triggers a person to binge, then that food could be a problem simply because it results in unhealthy behaviors. Not to say you can't enjoy bad foods once in a while and in reasonable portions, but focus on eating fresh healthy foods and be aware of your own trigger foods.
Diet myth 3: A low carb diet flushes calories from the body.
Diet facts: Many people believe the body can excrete fat fragments (called ketones) in urine while on a low carb diet, essentially flushing calories out. But a study at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg found no correlation between urinary ketone levels and weight change in women on a low carb diet.
Cutting carbs restricts so many foods that are normally accompanied by fat, that dieters often end up slashing calories overall. The initial rapid weight loss they experience is caused by the body draining glycogen stores for energy. With each gram of glycogen used, 3 grams of water are released, with the result being almost immediate weight loss due to increased urination. After about 10 to14 days, increased urination ends and so does the rapid weight-loss phase.
Diet myth 4: It's more expensive to eat healthy food.
Diet facts: With a little planning, eating healthy foods can actually cost less than shelling out for typical fast-food fare. Are you surprised? A study at the Mary Imogene Bassett Research Institute in Cooperstown, N.Y., found that a person who follows a diet of heart healthy whole foods can reduce her grocery bill by up to $8 a week. That translates to an annual savings of $416 a year for a single person.
Pound for pound, a balanced healthy diet with health-boosting whole foods is a lot cheaper than a fast-food diet. To help pare down your grocery bill, swap legumes for meat products; buy less-expensive produce such as apples, oranges, carrots, spinach and cabbage; and purchase healthy whole grains like oatmeal and rice in bulk.
Diet myth 5: Certain diets can banish cellulite.
Diet facts: Medically speaking, there is no such thing as cellulite. It's a marketing term for plain old pudge that ripples (mostly on the thighs) in varying degrees in 50 to 90 percent of women, regardless of clothing size or fitness level. This clumpy fat results from fat cells stored just under the skin in honeycomb-like structures held in place by bands of connective tissue. The more fat cells stuffed into each honeycomb, the more puckered the texture.
Since cellulite is just ordinary body fat, there is no unique low carb diet trick or cellulite treatment to remove it. The bottom line? A calorie-controlled diet that consists of whole, healthy foods plus exercise will help you lose fat throughout your body.
Diet myth 6: When you work out you need extra protein in your diet.
Diet facts: Even if you exercise regularly, you don't need any more protein than the average couch potato! Most Americans consume more than enough protein, averaging 77.5 grams a day, or 146 percent of the Dietary Reference Intake (53 grams) for a 145-pound adult.
Diet myth 7: You need fat in your diet. Fat keeps you full and satisfied.
Diet facts: Fat is the slowest food component to clear the stomach, so for years it was assumed that fatty foods slow digestion and keep you feeling full longer. Recent research proves the proportion of sugar and fat has little or no difference in satiety ratings. What's more, fat actually has twice the calories of protein or carbohydrates.
In reality, protein tends to leave people feeling more satisfied than either carbohydrates or fat while fiber and whole grains affect feelings of fullness and satisfaction. To stay full longer, eat healthy foods that are high in fiber, like fruits and veggies and lots of healthy whole grains.