Studying nutrition and weight loss can be a difficult process because of the mountains of dieting myths in the food, fitness, and supplement industries. There are also a number of false clichés that have been handed down over the centuries. To get you back on track with your goals, I'll tackle the top 5 food and weight loss myths floating around the internet right now.
1. 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.
2. Does Intermittent Fasting Work?
In terms of improving health markers like cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, and fat mass, intermittent fasting does work. That said, intermittent fasting does not improve these health markers more effectively than a continuous caloric deficit. This was shown in two recent intermittent fasting studies.
The greatest benefit of intermittent fasting is the structure it provides, such as with the 5:2 diet. In this diet, for example, you would eat normally for 5 days, then significantly reduce your caloric intake during the other 2 days that week. 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.
3. 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.
4. Carnivore, Paleo, and Keto Diets
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.
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 a 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 three 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.
5. Are Carbs Bad for You?
Carbohydrates are completely fine, and sometimes beneficial, in moderation. They're one of the three macronutrients (the other two are protein and fat), and can be tracked at 4 calories per gram.
There's a common misconception that carbs 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.
Everybody Has Dieting Preferences
At the end of the day, we each have our own dieting preferences and experiences. When somebody finds success with a diet plan, they'll often credit it without fully understanding why they lost the weight. Weight loss is all about calories in vs calories expended. Do what works for you, but be careful not to fall for the latest superfood or dieting trend you read about online.
What kind of diet have you implemented into your everyday life? What have you struggled with and how did you overcome it? Leave a comment below so we can all learn and grow from each other's experiences!
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