10 diet myths to forget about
The fact that the fields of medicine, pharmacology, dietetics and genetics are constantly evolving is widely accepted. This means that previous perceptions about diet and weight loss have changed and replaced by results from more recent studies. Here are 10 of the biggest diet myths that are no longer valid.
Caffeine leads to weight loss #not
Caffeine has previously been identified as a substance that aids with weight loss, because it contains a natural mechanism which, after it is consumed, and for the next 90 minutes, the body can maintain glycogen levels while promoting the use of fat as the main source of energy. Today, we know that this mechanism is not valid, as reports now relate caffeine more to the ability to prolong fatigue during physical exercise, among other things.
Aerobic exercise is the best exercise for fat loss #not
For many years, it has been thought that cardio is the best form of exercise for fat loss. Those of us who have followed this know that exercise machines such as the treadmill and stationary bike will give us numbers for ‘calories burned.’ The truth is that studies have shown that our metabolism does not change much after low-medium intensity aerobic exercise. An interesting study by Schunk et al (2002), showed that resistance training (using weights) increased metabolism up to 38 hours after exercising. Over time, weight training helps us to increase our muscle mass (muscles are our metabolic factory), which in turn increases our basal metabolic rate. So, instead of burning 55Kcal/hour while sitting at rest and watching our favourite TV show, we can burn 65-70Kcal/hour if we increase our muscle mass. Even though this doesn’t seem like a large difference, this adds up to around 240Kcal per day, which will cause fat burn.
All the protein in eggs is is in the egg whites #not
How many times have you seen someone eat egg whites after the gym to get their protein in? The truth is that, if you throw the egg yolk away, you are also throwing out 40% of the egg’s protein content, as well as other nutrients. An egg contains 7g of protein, of which 3g are found in the yolk. So, the next time you think about throwing the yolk again, think about the precious protein you are tossing in the bin.
If you eat breakfast, you kick start your metabolism earlier #not
“Eat breakfast like a king, and dinner like a pauper” This phrase emphasizes the importance of breakfast, but does it really make a difference to our weight if we eat breakfast every day? Does it affect our metabolism if we don’t eat breakfast? If someone gains or loses fat, this has more to do with the daily calorie intake. For instance, if a healthy adult consumes 2000 Kcal in one or two meals instead of 6 smaller meals, this doesn’t cause a massive change in metabolism or weight. On the other hand, eating early in the day will kickstart digestion in the stomach, which will allow food to pass through the stomach to the intestine, where nutrients are absorbed. All of these steps require energy, so if we start consuming our calories earlier in the day, it makes it easier for us to burn more energy and lose more fat. Do not overestimate the action of this energy requirement though, as it accounts for 15% of our total energy needs, with the remaining 85% comprising our basal metabolism and physical activity.
Creatine is an anabolic steroid #not
Creatine is an amino acid that we consume in our daily diet, from meat and meat derivatives. The fact that it has proven positive effects on athletic performance has made it widely used by athletes, making it seem like the secret to success. The only thing that creatine does is that it fills our muscles with increased levels of stored phosphocreatine (and water, which is why our weight can increase by 1kg after the first week of taking it). This in turn helps us to perform short duration, high intensity physical activity. Studies in the US have shown a positive relationship between creatine supplements and Alzheimer’s disease.
The fat-burning breakfast drink with hot water, lemon, cinnamon and ginger #not
Although this kind of drink can offer multiple important and powerful antioxidants to the body, there is no evidence that links these drinks to fat burning properties. Of course it is possible for someone to lose weight if they replace their sugary coffee with a drink like this, but this is more to do with decreasing calories.
You must drink fruit juices daily for good health #not
One of the longest-standing diet myths of past decades is the importance of drinking fresh fruit juice daily. The truth is that just the juice of 2 oranges gives us 60% of our micronutrient needs. However, what long-term benefits does this have? Drinking fruit juice daily makes sense for parts of the population that have higher energy requirements, such as children and athletes. An average adult with a sedentary job will not find it as easy to process the 60g of simple carbohydrates (one glass of juice made from 4 oranges) early in the day, leading to high levels of blood glucose, heightened appetite and in some cases difficulty in maintaining weight. Drink fruit juices on days where you expend more energy, and remember that just 150ml of juice can give you the nutrients that your body needs.
Don’t combine protein and carbs #not
This myth began in the 90s and 00s. It is based on the fact that different enzymes are used to metabolize proteins and carbohydrates. So, if we help out our digestive system, we can make our metabolism – and weight management – more effective. However, the truth is that our bodies are more complex than that, and can handle different food groups. More recent studies have shown that combining protein and carbs lead to a better glycemic response.
Dietary fat creates body fat #not
The logic behind this is that eating more fat will cause you to have more body fat. This myth is why light and low fat foods are so popular. But what is the role of dietary fats on obesity? The truth is that there has been a lot of negativity associated with dietary fats. Yes, fat is the most energy-rich food group, compared to carbs and protein (9 Kcal/g compared to 4Kcal/g for the other two food groups). However, fat-rich foods such as avocados can keep you feeling fuller for longer compared to a meal with the same calories but solely comprising carbs. Be careful not to eat too much fat though, as this can radically increase your calorie intake.
Water can cleanse out fat #not
Water does have a lot of positive benefits on the body. It takes part in biochemical reactions in the body, increases metabolism, contributes to skin health and makes sure that the circulatory system is working, among other things. However, it does not have the ability to directly metabolize fat. This doesn’t mean that it can’t help to maintain normal body fat levels, so don’t forget to drink 1,5l (women) or 2l (men) per day.