Health & Wellness

6 Myths About Dieting

08.27.12 6 Diet Myths

So what’s the deal with dieting, anyway? Over the years, we’ve all been told what to do and what not to do when trying to shed a few pounds. It’s the perpetual question of low fat or low carbs. Can a midnight snack ruin your diet? And is a gluten-free lifestyle really the way to go?  In an effort to detangle this nutritional quagmire, Cotton Candy editors turned to Registered Dietitian Andrea Q. Vintro for Nutrition Energy. She dissects six common myths about dieting.

MYTH No.1: Bananas are a no-go.
Yes, bananas are a huge source of carbohydrates, but remember that carbs are not all created equally.  Many of the carbohydrates found in a banana are complex, and carbs are the preferred fuel source for active cells.  Bananas also contain significant levels of a carbohydrate that is neither digested nor absorbed by the body. It’s called soluble fiber and has been linked to lower blood cholesterol.  Bananas are loaded with potassium, a nutrient associated with weight loss.

MYTH No. 2: If we want to lose weight, start exercising.
Researchers are realizing that exercise and weight loss may not be as compatible as everyone thinks.  Yes, it’s true that exercise needs to be a part of the plan.  But recently, researchers have been trying to understand why people who start exercise programs and diet plans simultaneously have had a hard time losing weight.  If you can burn more calories and at the same time take in fewer calories, you lose weight. Right?  That remains true, but scientists are finding when we set time aside to formally exercise during the day, we get hungrier, and we may do less activity, such as climbing the stairs, taking a walk to the grocery store  because we are tired.  If you want to lose weight, don’t stop exercising, but consider taking it easy.  Just being aware that you’re going to feel hungrier, and that you may want to sit down more.

MYTH No. 3: Losing weight will help you achieve weight loss over the long term.
Forty-five million Americans start a weight loss plan to lose weight every year. But studies show that up to 50 percent of people who lose weight regain all of the lost weight within one year. Now research is shifting from focusing only on weight loss to both weight loss plus  maintaining the optimum weight. Continue to eat right, stay active and remain accountable to a friend or partner. This change of approach will combat gaining back more weight over time.

MYTH No. 4: Don’t eat after… (7 p.m. … 8 p.m. … dinner)
Listen and listen good. The body doesn’t care if the excess calories are eaten in the morning or after 8 p.m. Excess calories that we eat are stored as fat.  The truth is that people tend to eat these excess calories during the evening hours.  Imagine you’ve had a long day at work. You’ve skipped breakfast or lunch because of high stress or busy schedule, so you’re starving when you get home.  At that point you’re tempted to eat a large dinner then relax in front of the couch with a few chips or cookies. Get the picture? Want to limit the urge to eat after dinner?  Make sure you eat a good breakfast.  If we skip breakfast, we get hungrier in the evening regardless of how many calories we take in between lunch and dinner.

MYTH No. 5: Dieting is hard because you have to eat bland, tasteless, diet foods.
Dry chicken breast. Rice cakes. Plain carrots and celery for a snack.  And to add flavor, include  processed foods that contain artificial sweeteners and fillers with promises of low fat.  What’s wrong with this picture?  Research shows it’s not sustainable.  And, we won’t be getting all the nutrients we need. Remember, a diet that can keep off lost weight should keep our bodies nourished. Use recipes that call for a mix and variety of grains, veggies and lean protein, healthy fats such as nut oils, avocados, nuts and seeds, and throw in herbs and spices.

MYTH No. 6: Eating gluten-free foods are the key to weight loss.
Celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Oprah are claiming their slimmer figures are due to their gluten-free diets. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.  Because of the gluten-free trend it’s no surprise that gluten-free food sales are expected to reach $5 billion a year by 2015.  Some people can be sensitive to gluten causing symptoms but true gluten sensitivity is quite rare.  To many, gluten-free indicates healthy.  The truth is that gluten is found in many highly processed foods like refined breads, cakes, cookies, and baked goods. These are also foods that can contribute to weight gain.  So of course when we eliminate those foods from our diet, we lose weight.  Grains high in gluten can be very nutritious and part of a weight loss diet if eaten as a whole grain.  Not to mention, many gluten-free foods can be just as high in fat, sugar and additives as those with gluten. So read the nutrition label.

Written by: Andrea Q Vintro, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, with Nutrition Logic in Portland, Ore. and Nutrition Energy in New York City.

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