Common Diet Myths That Don’t Work The weight-loss industry is filled with misinformation. Many fad diets have unsustainable effects or are built on false premises, while the popular wisdom surrounding weight loss is equally sketchy. Here are six of the most common myths about diet, paired with alternate suggestions based on actual facts.
1. Eating Frequently Will Speed Up Your Metabolism
Pop science suggests that eating small meals several times a day, rather than a couple larger meals, will put your metabolism into overdrive, burning more calories. In reality, your metabolism is barely affected by what you eat on any given day.It’s impacted much more by the overall makeup of your body.
This means if you really want a faster metabolism, you’ll have to put in the work to build muscle. Fat-free tissue burns more than five times as many calories as fatty tissue.
2. Cutting Carbs Solves Everything
This is one of the most common bits of misleading diet lore. Many diets are based around eliminating carbohydrates because they end up being converted into fat, but the reality is that any extra calories end up as fat, and carbs take the blame because they’re particularly popular binge items.
While eliminating or reducing carbohydrate intake is a great start, you should be counting all of your calories, not just carbs, if you’re trying to lose weight. And complex carbs, like those found in beans, fruit, and whole wheat, have a ton of positive health effects that you may want to think twice about giving up.
3. Skipping Breakfast Makes You Fat
Another misleading bit of pseudoscience is the idea that not having breakfast will cause your body to convert your later meals immediately into fat reserves. This is blatantly false, although there is some wisdom to the idea that a healthy breakfast can make you less likely to binge at lunch or dinner.
Don’t force yourself to eat in the morning (or ever), and if you do feel like having breakfast, make it something healthy, like oatmeal or fruit.
4. Smoking Can Help You Lose Weight
While it’s true that nicotine does have appetite suppressant qualities, it hasn’t been demonstrated to result in any sort of prolonged weight loss, and smoking comes with a host of other health risks. Smoking to lose weight is an absurd way of dealing with your appetite problem.
Instead, consider drinking more water. It can help you feel full, and unlike smoking, it has zero negative health effects.
5. Eating Healthy Is Too Expensive and Impractical
One myth about dieting that keeps many people from ever even getting started is that food that’s good for you costs far more than unhealthy food, and is too hard to procure. It’s true that it’s difficult to track down healthful food in many areas of the country—and fast food’s ubiquity makes eating like crap easy, convenient. But a little effort in researching and shopping for groceries can make buying healthy food much easier.
Seek out markets with fresh produce that’s not overpriced, and don’t fall for expensive “superfoods” that are expensive by virtue of being trendy.
6. Binging on Diet Foods Is Harmless
People often make the mistake of thinking that foods marketed as “low-carb” or “low-fat” are completely safe to pig out on. That’s not the case! There are plenty of foods that are low in fat, but high in sugar, or vice versa, and eating a massive portion will damage your diet. Read past the packaging and learn how many calories you’re actually consuming before you dive into a box of diet food.
The diet discourse is awash in half-truths and downright dishonesty. If you can get past the myths we’ve just discussed, you’ll have a much better shot at making your diet work for you.
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