Weight Loss Tips: Nutritionist Separates Facts From Fiction In Popular Diet Advice

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Not all carbs are bad, sugar-free and fat-free foods can still make you fat, and when you eat does not matter as much as how much you eat. Joshua Rappeneker, CC by 2.0

File this one under “you can’t trust the Internet.”  Popular diet facts and figures are bandied about on websites; it’s easy to get lost in all the hype and misinformation. A registered dietician helps separates fact from fiction in a new article for the Texas A&M Health Science Center.

Myth: Sugar-free and fat-free foods automatically lead to hard bodies

Fat free and sugar free do not mean foods are calorie free,” says Lisa Mallonee, a dietician with the Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry. She explains you should still feel guilty if you wolf down a boxful of anything, fat-free or not. You will gain weight anytime you eat more calories than you burn off, so you still need to count any special diet foods you consume. According to Mallonee, the fat content in many 'sugar free' items can be extremely high and when it comes to fat-free foods, high calorie artificial ingredients may be added to help make them taste better.

Partial Myth: Carbs make you fat

It's the type of carbohydrates we choose that lead to fat.

Carbs are the body’s main source of fuel, Mallonee explains, so the real problem with carbs is eating too many that are refined or processed. “Binging on these carbohydrates will contribute to weight gain,” she says. Instead, eat a balanced diet higher in complex carbs and lower in simple or processed carbs, she recommends. “The average American needs to be consuming more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and less processed foods, refined carbohydrates and white flour products," Mallonee said.

Myth: Gluten-free desserts are healthier

“Gluten substitutes may actually increase calorie content and contribute to weight gain,” says Mallonee, While anyone diagnosed with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance may want to revel in the no-gluten desserts, it may not be such a great idea to follow their lead. They simply are not “healthier” than regular desserts for the average person. Even for those who cannot eat the usual fare, these treats should be eaten in moderation, Mallonee says.

Partial Myth: Healthy food is more expensive

“When it comes to fruits and vegetables my word of reason is to always buy in-season,” says Mallonee, suggesting buying seasonally will help keep your grocery costs down. While eating fresh often costs more than processed foods or value menu items at fast food restaurants, she says, “in the big picture, it will likely cost you more in medical bills to maintain an unhealthy lifestyle.” Look at the long-term health impact before you tally the price... of anything.

Myth: Late night eating equals weight gain

What time you eat does not matter nearly as much as what you eat.

"It doesn't matter what time of day you eat as long as you are eating a balanced diet, consuming foods in moderation and burning off more calories than you consume,” Mallonee said. 

Myth: Fasting is important to cleanse the body

“We already have a built in cleansing system; our kidneys and liver,” Mallonee explains, adding a fiber rich diet naturally moves toxins out of the body. In fact, the more fiber you eat, the more it's able to move food and related toxins through and out your body. Sadly, though, most Americans have a refined diet that is “too low in fiber. This is what allows toxins to thrive inside our bodies,” Mallonee says. We all have cells with the potential to turn into cancer cells, she adds, and what we eat determines whether these become transformed into cancer cells or get terminated.

Terminate those cells: eat fiber!

Myth: Energy bars help with weight loss

While energy bars are convenient, we should be wary of their ingredients.

"Most of the time I refer to energy bars as glorified candy bars," Mallonee confides. Usually, they’re high in fat and sugar content. While they may be a good way for athletes to consume extra calories, she wouldn't recommend them for most people, especially those trying to lose weight.

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