While it’s great that we have easy access to health information, some of it may not always be true.
Here are some common diet myths debunked. Other diet myths can be found here.
Diet Myth #1:
Eating after 8 P.M. will make you gain weight
Truth: It doesn’t matter what time of day you eat.
When it comes to losing weight what matters most is the total amount of calories consumed versus the total amount of calories burned.
If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight; regardless of when those calories were consumed. Your body is constantly burning calories (even when you sleep) so food eaten late at night will not “stick” anymore than food eaten in the morning.
However, many people do tend to overeat at night, whether it be from boredom or stress. If you find that you are a “night eater” it may be a good idea to set a limit of not eating past a certain hour so you do not exceed your overall calorie requirement.
Next time you want to grab an evening treat ask yourself, am I truly hungry or am I just bored?
Diet Myth #2:
Brown sugar is healthier than white sugar
Truth: The brown sugar sold at grocery stores is actually white granulated sugar with added molasses.
Brown sugar contains the same amount of calories and sugar as white sugar. Brown sugar does contain a tiny amount of minerals, but the amount is insignificant.
Similarly, there are no real health benefits of using maple syrup or honey instead of white sugar.
Diet Myth #3:
Avoid carbs to lose weight
Truth: Cutting out carbs will help you lose weight initially because you will be losing water weight.
When reducing carbs your body will burn glycogen as opposed to glucose. Glycogen (the storage form of glucose) contains a lot of water and for the first couple of weeks you may see a big drop in your weight due to the water loss.
If you continue to lose weight it is only because you are reducing your overall calorie intake, not because there is anything magical about cutting carbohydrates.
If it works, then why not do it?
Have you ever been around a friend on a low carb diet that was, shall we say…. grumpy?
They might be grumpy because they are hungry, but it may also be because carbohydrates naturally stimulate production of serotonin which is a mood elevating neurotransmitter.
Aside from the “happy factor” that carbs provide, carbs are important for a balanced diet.
Carbohydrates are the main energy source when exercising. Carbs are found in grains, fruits, and milk products which provide essential vitamins and minerals.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics a balanced diet should contain 50-60% of calories from carbohydrates, 25-30% calories from fat, and 15-20% calories from protein.
Diet Myth #4:
Eating a lot of sugar causes diabetes
Truth: If you already have diabetes, you do need to watch your sugar intake to manage your blood glucose.
However, if you do not have diabetes, sugar intake will not cause you to develop the disease.
The main risk factors for Type II diabetes are:
- Being over-weight or obese
- Having a sedentary lifestyle
- Family history of the disease
It is recommended that you should consume a diet with low to moderate amounts of added sugar for overall health, as sugar contains zero nutrients but many calories.
The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugars and men no more than 9 teaspoons.
As a reference, one can of non-diet soda contains 9 teaspoons of added sugar.
Diet Myth #5:
Gluten is bad for your health and should be avoided
Truth: Gluten is a protein found in some grain products.
Bread and wheat based cereals contain gluten, but rice and oatmeal do not. The only people that need to avoid gluten are those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. If you do not have celiac disease, there are no health benefits to avoiding gluten.
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