Dieting Myths Debunked
The dieting world is full of myths, hearsay, and rumors. We all have heard them a thousand times, but does this make it true? Is it really a good idea to ban sugar completely from your diet? Is it really a good idea not to touch fat and alcohol ever again? This seems to me like an invitation to failure. Too few people can swear off certain foods forever and stick to the dieting oath. The rest of us need a little treat now and then. And there’s nothing wrong with getting a treat once in while, provided that treats don’t happen too often.
The basic idea of any diet is to eat food that contains fewer calories than your body needs to maintain it's current weight. This way, the body is forced to use the accumulated fat in order to make up for the energy it doesn’t get from food. But a diet also has to be tasty and nutritionally sound. Simply banning certain types of foods and ingredients is not a solution, because anybody following such a diet will have to acknowledge, sooner or later, that he or she wants those foods and unhealthy ingredients badly, and a relapse into the old eating habits will become inevitable.
People should also learn not to put their faith into meal replacements, such as Mypoplex, Slimfast or Eat-Smart. These combinations of low-fat and high-protein substances cannot substitute for a proper diet. They should never be used for more than four weeks in a row. Calories are important to the body and nobody can go on for long without needing them to be replenished. Cutting calories out of the long-term nutrition is a huge mistake because the internal organs and muscles need them to function. Using meal replacements for a week or two, as a shock treatment, is fine. Relying on them for two months is asking for trouble. And the same goes for single-food diets, such as the cabbage soup diet, because they are based on the same idea.
Another widespread myth is the idea that the best approach to weight loss is a low-carb, high-protein diet. This is one of the myths that emerged from the Hollywood slimming industry. Nearly all movie stars and singers are on some such diet. However, this approach is not exactly good for you because a diet low in carbohydrates and calories forces the body to use existing carbs located in the liver and the muscles. In time, this diet leads to weight loss mainly from water stored in the body, instead of fat, and also strains the internal organs which can cause a large number of other health problems.
You should not be so afraid of potatoes, bread and pasta, the leading sources of carbohydrates. Carbs are actually good for you because they quell the feeling of hunger without having too many calories to be unhealthy. So you can safely eat moderate amounts of potatoes and bread as long as you don’t use butter or sauces, which are laden with fat. Naturally, you also have to pay attention to how these foods are prepared. French fries are not a low-fat food. Still, a high-carb, low-fat diet is far better than banning potatoes and bread from your daily meals and it’s also easier to stick to.
Drinking a certain quantity of water every day is a good idea because it keeps the body hydrated and fills the stomach. Water also keeps the intestines healthy by facilitating the movements of undigested food. However, simply drinking water doesn't trigger weight loss by itself. There is only one way to lose weight, and that is to burn up the existing fat, and water cannot do that by itself. Also, a diet shouldn't be judged solely by how much weight it says you can lose per week. Some people claim that a diet can be considered effective, if the weekly loss of weight is above two pounds. Frankly, two pounds per week is a lot of weight to lose, and you can be sure that not all of it is fat, but also the lean tissue that makes up the muscles.
Another myth claims that fat is absolutely bad for you. It’s not. Quite to the contrary, the body needs some fat in order to get the important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K circulating through the cardiovascular system. Moreover, fat also brings into the body the essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 that cannot be synthesized in the body. The word “essential” means that these fatty acids simply have to be present in your daily food since they play an important role in your health. The recommended dose of fat is 35% of your daily calorie intake.
And last of all comes the idea that a diet or eating plan is enough in itself and does not have to involve exercising at all. But exercising is the most effective way of burning up those extra calories stored as fat. Simply sitting at your desk all day long is not going to do the trick, regardless of what diet you’re on. Remember, a diet that has plenty of food (the right kind of food) and plenty of exercise is far better than sitting on the sofa and drinking cabbage soup every six hours. It works faster and is less stressful to your body.
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