Weight Loss and Food Myths

Studying nutrition can be a difficult process because of the mountains of myths floating around the dieting, food, and supplement industries. There are also a number of false clichés that have been handed down over the centuries. While this website caters to those interested in fitness, this article was written to dispel various dieting myths and help anyone achieve lasting results.

Detoxes and Cleanses

Do cleanses and detoxes work? Short answer: no. Unfortunately, these are among the latest "quick fix" dieting trends designed to prey on those without a proper background in nutrition. Fitness influencers and personal trainers know that these buzzwords sell, so they've latched on. Like many nutrition fads, the evidence that various juice cleanses and detox diets do what they claim to do is shaky at best. The only thing magical about them is their profit margin for those selling them. You might feel better on one of these diets because you're eating less garbage or losing a little bit of body fat; however, any kind of crash-course diet or quick fix is likely to lead to a setback and disappointment. Successful diets are all about lifestyle changes and consistency.

Does Intermittent Fasting Work?

There are a few ways to approach this question. In terms of improving health markers like cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and fat mass, intermittent fasting does work. The myth is that intermittent fasting improves these health markers more effectively than a continuous caloric deficit. You can get into the weeds of two recent studies here. The greatest benefit of intermittent fasting is the structure it provides, such as with the 5:2 diet. This type of diet plan is relatively simple to follow and implement. All this means is that you can use fasting as a dieting tool if that's your preference over other proven diets like If It Fits Your Macros. Weight loss is all about sustainability. Find what fits your schedule and make it your lifestyle.

Eating Late at Night

It's a very common saying that eating before bed is bad. The myth is that late-night snacks turn into fat. This simply isn't true. In many cases, eating late at night will put an individual into a caloric surplus for the day (resulting in weight gain). The timing is less important. With that said, this doesn't mean bedtime snacks are good. A lot of it depends on the individual. If you get acid reflux, then eating before bed probably isn't a good idea. If having a light snack helps you fall asleep, then go for it. The primary point here is that calories eaten at night don't magically turn into fat.

Carnivore Diet, Paleo Diet, and Keto Diet

The reason I'm lumping these three diets together is because each is searched for at a very high volume, has followers who are notoriously voracious in their support, and is essentially an elimination diet. You might think of them as modern Atkins diets. Once more, there's no magic to be had in any of these diet plans despite what's floating around the internet. Personally, I recommend against these diets unless you have some sort of medical reason to pursue one. The carnivore diet is a very restrictive diet that focuses on consuming meat and other animal-based foods. The Paleolithic diet is sometimes referred to as "the caveman diet" because of the time period it focuses on. The ketogenic diet focuses on high fat consumption. These diets can certainly help you lose weight, but it's much easier, safer, and sustainable to do so through a traditional caloric-deficit diet plan.

Are Carbs Bad for You?

There's a common misconception that carbohydrates should be avoided when going on a diet. It might stem from the fact that carbs are usually the easiest macronutrient to cut out of a diet, at least in American diets. Another reason may be because you don't technically need carbs to live, while you do need protein and fat. The most likely reason is because many diets vilify cake, ice cream, chocolate, and other desserts loaded with processed sugars. These, and snacks like chips, are easy to blame because of how addictive they can be. Carbs become the enemy as a result of our own lack of self control. The reality is carbs are completely fine, and sometimes beneficial, in moderation. It's worth noting that carbs are only 4 calories per gram (protein is 4 calories per gram, too, while fat is 9 calories per gram).

Bodybuilding Diets

Bodybuilding diets tend to revolve around meal plans for muscle gain and fat loss. This concept can be counterintuitive, which has led to a number of nutrition and weight loss myths. I'll approach a few in rapid-fire fashion:

  • Do mass gainers work?
    • Sure, but they're not needed. All mass gainers do is increase your caloric intake.
  • Do I need to meal prep?
    • This comes down to preference. Some people like to cook all of their food at once to save time, but many choose to cook each meal individually.
  • Why do bodybuilders eat chicken and rice?
    • "Clean eating" is a very popular concept in bodybuilding. Apparently, chicken and rice are squeaky clean (cue eye roll). There's no magic here other than the low cost and macros.
  • Does meal frequency and timing matter?
    • Nutrient timing, the anabolic window, eating multiple small meals throughout the day, and similar concepts fall under this bucket. Generally speaking, your end-of-day macro and calorie totals are most important. There's some evidence that spreading out your protein intake can help with building muscle, but the overwhelming factor is getting enough protein consistently over time.

What kind of diet do you implement in your everyday life? What have you struggled with and how did you overcome it? Let us know in the comments so that we can all learn and grow from each other's experiences!

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