Diet tips: they’re everywhere – some good, some bad and some downright crazy. I’m debunking the top 10 most common diet tips, many of which sound sensible, but are actually the opposite!
1. All Calories Are Equal
Not all calories were created equal. It sounds like a simple concept, but there are so many factors at play when you’re eating food: 100 calories of chocolate and 100 calories of broccoli do very different things to your body. Different foods have different effects on hunger hormones, use different amounts of energy to digest and utilise the nutrients you’re consuming. For example, higher-protein foods keep you feeling fuller for longer so you don’t need to eat as much.
2. Avoid Carbs at All Costs
This is a big myth. Carbs are essential for your body to function optimally. The quality of carbohydrates is what matters: whole-grain, low-GI carbohydrates like quinoa are digested much more slowly and keep you fuller for longer compared to low-quality carbohydrates like those found in cakes and biscuits. Focus on including the best sources of carbohydrates from low-GI whole grains as a regular part of your day.
3. The Fewer Calories the Better
Going too low is NOT the answer!! Eating much less than you need will put unnecessary stress on your body and it may go into starvation mode. The human body is very clever and has adapted to survive through periods of famine. By maintaining an extremely low-calorie diet, each time you eat, your body will more likely store the energy from food for later use as it won’t know when the next meal is coming. This doesn’t lead to maintained weight loss results.
4. Fat Makes You Fat
It’s easy to be confused by fat-free, low-fat or reduced-fat foods. Fact: eating fat does not necessarily make you fat. Fat is an essential part of our diet. It gives us energy, helps to build healthy cells and our brain, helps our body absorb vitamins (A, D, E & K), gives us healthier skin and helps our body make hormones. Yes, you can overdo it and have too much, so it’s important to stick to a controlled portion size. There are plenty of healthy, high-quality fat sources like oily fish, nuts, seeds and avocados.
5. It’s Good to Skip a Meal
Banking your calories for your next meal won’t work. If you skip a meal you’re more likely to make unhealthy food choices as the day goes on. Skipping lunch to save your calories for a special dinner will only leave you starving and more likely to over-eat at dinner time or snack on unhealthy foods while you wait. Often you’ll consume far more calories than you would have eaten at lunch in the first place.
6. Go Sugar-Free/Raw/Paleo for the Best Results
Health fads like going Paleo, ditching sugar or eating only raw foods often lead to results because you’ll cut out all the junk food in your diet and start eating more fresh and whole foods. Cutting out junk also cuts out a lot of unnecessary calories, so any weight loss is often due to this. You don’t have to follow the strict rules of going sugar-free, raw or Paleo to see results. Simply cut out the junk and processed foods.
7. Ditch the Gluten
Unless you have coeliac disease or are gluten intolerant there’s no advantage to going gluten-free. Weight loss from going on a gluten-free diet is often because you’ve cut the breads and cereals food group and you’re eating fewer calories than usual, which will lead to weight loss – it’s not because you’ve cut out gluten. Cutting out food groups can lead to nutritional deficiencies. If weight loss is your goal it’s much better to focus on your portion sizes instead.
8. Juice to Drop Pounds
Drinking your calories is not the answer. Going on a juice detox will result in initial weight loss as you’ll be eating and drinking far less than usual. As soon as you stop though, your weight will return to normal. Apart from not being nutritionally adequate, drinking your calories will not keep you full and you’ll likely be very hungry.
Juicing often removes the best parts of the fruit (the skin and the pulp, which slow down the absorption of the fruit’s sugar) and can also contain far too many pieces of fruit. Remember, it’s recommended you eat two serves of fruit a day, while a juice can contain the juice (and sugar) of six pieces of fruit – or more! Fruit is naturally high in sugar so you’d be taking in a lot of unnecessary calories, and drinking too much of it may lead to dental erosion too.
9. Cut Out Dairy to Cut Calories
I hear a lot of people say they’ve cut out dairy when they’re trying to lose weight. They’re always surprised to hear that dairy can actually help weight loss and reduce body fat. Dairy is one of the richest sources of calcium around, and if you can tolerate it you should include three sources into your day. This might be milk on your muesli, a small tub of yoghurt and two slices of cheese as a snack.
10. Skip Breakfast to Lose Weight
They say it’s the most important meal of the day for a reason. Breakfast kick-starts your metabolism after fasting at night. Breakfast eaters have a healthier weight and more nutritious diets than people who skip breakfast. Skipping this meal makes you more likely to snack on unhealthy options throughout the day. So the message is clear: don’t avoid the most important meal of the day!
* Disclaimer: Content originally published on 12WBT.com