For long-term weight loss it’s important to know the facts about foodI frequently come across people who say, “I know what I should eat, I just don’t eat it.” Many are also perplexed by the constant inundation of nutrition information and misinformation that floods the media every day. It can be daunting to navigate through it all and determine what is true and what is false. There are many nutrition myths, particularly related to weight loss.
Top Nutrition Myths:
- It’s bad to eat after 7 p.m. Your body doesn’t know what time it is. Your metabolism works 24/7, even while you sleep. Obviously, you may not burn as many calories while you sleep, so be mindful of what you’re eating at that time. Have a sensible dinner, even if it’s at nine o’clock at night. A good strategy is to limit or avoid starchy carbs at night (like bread, pasta, rice and potatoes) if you’re trying to lose weight.
- Carrots are high in sugar. This belief began with the Sugar Busters craze a few years back, which was supposedly based on the glycemic index. You would have to consume about 10 cups of carrots for them to be considered high in sugar. In fact, sweet potatoes and strawberries have a lot more sugar than carrots.
- 100% fruit juice is good for you. While fruit juice does contain vitamins and minerals, it has as many calories and sugar as a soft drink. Fruit juice is a healthier choice than soda if you’re not concerned about weight. If you’re trying to lose weight, skip the juice and eat a piece of fruit instead. The fresh fruit provides more fiber and will be a lot more satisfying than juice.
- Pretzels, 100-calorie packs, rice cakes and baked chips are good snacks if you’re dieting. While these snacks are low in calories, they are also very low in nutrients. They are made primarily from refined, white flour and do not contain fiber that helps keep you full. These selections will not sustain you for long and will only make you hungrier and want to snack more. Look for complex carbohydrates that contain at least 3 grams of fiber per serving and list “whole wheat” as the first ingredient.
- Fat makes you fat. Excessive amounts of any food (carbohydrates, protein or fat) will be stored as body fat. Fat is higher in calories than carbs or protein, but our bodies require a certain amount of fat in our diets. Fat helps keep you full, sustains energy levels and is important for brain and hormone functions.
- A low-carb diet promotes weight loss quickly. Any diet that limits an entire food group will naturally cause weight loss because you’re restricting calories. Drastically cutting carbs can have detrimental effects, because by eliminating carbohydrates the body will burn muscle as a fuel source. This slows metabolism and can make you feel fatigued. A healthy, balanced diet at an appropriate calorie level, along with exercise, is the only proven equation for long-term weight management.
- Yogurt is great diet food. Many yogurts contain significant amounts of sugar. Look for plain or sugar-free yogurt or Greek yogurt, which is much higher in protein. An added bonus: Research has shown that consuming foods high in calcium, like dairy products, enhances the body’s ability to burn fat.
- Sweet potatoes have less sugar, carbohydrates and calories than white potatoes. Sweet potatoes are higher in vitamin content, but they have almost exactly the same amount of sugar, carbohydrate content and calories as white potatoes. Indulge in a white potato occasionally, and be sure to eat the fiber-filled skin.
- You can eat anything you want as long as you exercise. Exercise tones the muscles underneath our layers of body fat. You will not see the results you’re looking for if you’re not eating a healthy diet. In fact, diet is more important than exercise.
- Ground turkey is leaner than ground meat. This depends on the type of ground red meat. Look for 93% lean or higher. Ground turkey is fine if you enjoy the taste, but many are unnecessarily replacing ground meat with ground turkey in recipes to slash calories. The ground turkey fat content is a little higher because it contains some skin as well as some of the fattier dark meat. Ground turkey breast is the leanest of these meats.
- A raw food diet is the healthiest way to eat. Eating foods in their raw state is thought to preserve the nutrient content. There is no substantial research supporting that cooking foods will significantly lower the nutritional value.
There’s a wealth of information out there if you’re looking for a weight-loss plan, so much so that it can be confusing. For an effective and long-term weight-loss program, meet with a registered dietitian to devise a meal plan that is suited to your individual needs and lifestyle.