Weight-Loss and Nutrition Myths: How Much Do You Really know?
Myth: Fad diets work for permanent weight loss.
Fact: Fad diets are not the best way to lose weight and keep it off. Fad diets often promise quick weight loss or tell you to cut certain foods out of your diet. You may lose weight at first on one of these diets. But diets that strictly limit calories or food choices are hard to follow. Most people quickly get tired of them and regain any lost weight. Fad diets may be unhealthy because they may not provide all of the nutrients your body needs. Also, losing weight at a very rapid rate (more than 3 pounds a week after the first couple of weeks) may increase your risk for developing gallstones (clusters of solid material in the gallbladder that can be painful). Diets that provide less than 800 calories per day also could result in heart rhythm abnormalities, which can be fatal.
Tip: Research suggests that losing 1/2 to 2 pounds a week by making healthy food choices, eating moderate portions, and building physical activity into your daily life is the best way to lose weight and keep it off. By adopting healthy eating and physical activity habits, you may also lower your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure
Myth: High-protein/low-carbohydrate diets are a healthy way to lose weight.
Fact: The long-term health effects of a high-protein/low-carbohydrate diet are unknown. But getting most of your daily calories from high-protein foods like meat, eggs, and cheese is not a balanced eating plan. You may be eating too much fat and cholesterol, which may raise heart disease risk. You may be eating too few fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which may lead to constipation due to lack of dietary fiber. Following a high-protein/low-carbohydrate diet may also make you feel nauseous, tired, and weak. Eating fewer than 130 grams of carbohydrate a day can lead to the buildup of ketones in your blood. Ketones are partially broken-down fats. A buildup of these in your blood (called ketosis) can cause your body to produce high levels of uric acid, which is a risk factor for gout (a painful swelling of the joints) and kidney stones. Ketosis may be especially risky for pregnant women and people with diabetes or kidney disease. Be sure to discuss any changes in your diet with a health care professional, especially if you have health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, or type 2 diabetes.
Tip: High-protein/low-carbohydrate diets are often low in calories because food choices are strictly limited, so they may cause short-term weight loss. But a reduced-calorie eating plan that includes recommended amounts of carbohydrate, protein, and fat will also
Myth: “Going vegetarian” means you are sure to lose weight and be healthier.
Fact: Research shows that people who follow a vegetarian eating plan, on average, eat fewer calories and less fat than nonvegetarians. They also tend to have lower body weights relative to their heights than nonvegetarians. Choosing a vegetarian eating plan with a low fat content may be helpful for weight loss. But vegetarians-like nonvegetarians-can make food choices that contribute to weight gain, like eating large amounts of high-fat, high-calorie foods or foods with little or no nutritional value.
Vegetarian diets should be as carefully planned as nonvegetarian diets to make sure they are balanced. Nutrients that nonvegetarians normally get from animal products, but that are not always found in a vegetarian eating plan, are iron, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, zinc, and protein.
Tip: Choose a vegetarian eating plan that is low in fat and that provides all of the nutrients your body needs. Food and beverage sources of nutrients that may be lacking in a vegetarian diet are listed below.
¥ Iron: cashews, spinach, lentils, garbanzo beans, fortified bread or cereal
¥ Calcium: dairy products, fortified soy-based beverages, tofu made with calcium sulfate, collard greens, kale, broccoli
¥ Vitamin D: fortified foods and beverages including milk, soy-based beverages, or cereal
¥ Vitamin B12: eggs, dairy products, fortified cereal or soy-based beverages, tempeh, miso (tempeh and miso are foods made from soybeans)
¥ Zinc: whole grains (especially the germ and bran of the grain), nuts, tofu, leafy vegetables (spinach, cabbage, lettuce)
¥ Protein: eggs, dairy products, beans, peas, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, soy-based burgers
Myth: Eating after 8 p.m. causes weight gain.
Fact: It does not matter what time of day you eat. It is what and how much you eat and how much physical activity you do during the whole day that determines whether you gain, lose, or maintain your weight. No matter when you eat, your body will store extra calories as fat.
Tip: If you want to have a snack before bedtime, think first about how many calories you have eaten that day. And try to avoid snacking in front of the TV at night-it may be easier to overeat when you are distracted by the television.
Myth: Certain foods, like grapefruit, celery, or cabbage soup, can burn fat and make you lose weight.
Fact: No foods can burn fat. Some foods with caffeine may speed up your metabolism (the way your body uses energy, or calories) for a short time, but they do not cause weight loss.
Tip: The best way to lose weight is to cut back on the number of calories you eat and be more physically active.