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10 diet and nutrition myths busted

Last updated on: November 17, 2014 18:42 IST

Dhruv Gupta, Fitness Expert and Founder of weight loss programme, FitHo and author of Losing it: Making Weight loss simple, lists out the most popular health myths.

You've heard them; you've read about them and chances are you've also dished them out as part of your 'how to lose weight' advice to an unsuspecting friend.

Here, Dhruv Gupta busts ten diet and nutrition myths for us:

1. Low fat means low calorie

How often have you found yourself reaching out to that bag of low fat chips or a slab of low fat ice cream?

The truth about low fat packaged foods is that when the fat is taken out of these foods, it is almost often replaced with something else, usually some chemicals or carbohydrates.

Fat is not necessarily bad for you unless you consume too much of it. (This is true of anything else also.)

So if you are going to have it, have the real thing instead of the low fat version.

When fat gets replaced it doesn't necessarily lead to lesser calories.

Low fat chips may contain about 10 per cent lower calories than regular chips, which is not such a large amount when you think of it.

So if you really want to have chips, you'd be better off going for the non-fat regular version and not overeating!

2. Rice, potatoes and bananas are bad for you

Of all the foods, rice, potatoes and bananas have received maximum bad press for some reason.

So people who want to lose weight tend to shun these foods.

But as with every food, rice, potatoes and bananas are nutritious too.

Potatoes have high amount of vitamins fibre.

Banana has potassium that reduces sodium levels.

Sure they have carbohydrates but they are not high glycemic carbohydrates, which are bad for you.

So if you eat these foods in proportion, you really don't have a lot to worry about.

3. Eat less to lose weight

A lot of people think if they eat less they will lose weight faster.

But what happens when you eat less is that your metabolic rate slows down too and our body burns fewer calories.

So it is not a sure shot formula.

For those who are eating more than their body requires, eating in the right potions will help you manage weight better.

But also know that it is not just about calories but also how much you work out.

It is a combination of factors.

4. Margarine is better than butter

Margarine has for a few decades been promoted as being healthier than butter.

However margarine, when produced in mass quantities creates trans fats.

So technically while it will have lower saturated fats and calories, it will have larger amounts of trans fats that are far worse.

The intake of trans fats is related to heart diseases. The US has banned trans fats in packaged foods and cities like New York have even banned it from being used in restaurants.

So if you really want to have butter... have butter.

5. Eating after 8 pm make you gain weight

Now, everyone has a meal and sleep pattern.

Not all of us go to bed at, let's say 10 pm.

Some of us sleep at midnight; some of us sleep at 8 pm; some of us go to bed at 1 pm.

Let's say you go to bed at midnight.

When you have your meal at, shall we say, 7 pm you haven't had anything to eat for five hours already! Add another eight hours of sleep so by the time you are up, you would have gone without a single morsel for a cool 13 hours!

The general rule of thumb is you ought to have your last meal of the day about two hours before you go to bed.

Because (and if you've been reading carefully, you'd know that) if you don't eat for long stretches of time, your body's metabolism slows down.

6. Drinking water helps lose weight

Water is essential to our body's functioning and internal processes.

It helps in burning calories and in digestion etc.

It is a medium for all the chemical reactions that happen in our body.

8-12 glasses (about 3-4 litres) is enough to keep your body function efficiently.

If you haven't been having that much water every day, yes you must drink more of it.

But if you already have been drinking that amount anyway, having more of it won't make a difference.

Of course, the amount of water you have is also directly related to the amount of physical activity you undertake.

More the activity, more the water you will want to have.

7. Carbohydrates make you fat

Lot of diets tend to shun carbohydrates.

But here's the thing about carbs -- it is the carbohydrates with higher glycemic index that are unhealthy.

They make your blood pressure shoot up and help your body store more fat.

So yes it is important to avoid these 'bad carbs', which are found often in sugar-based foods and refined foods such as maida, bread, biscuits etc.

So, focus instead on whole grains that have lower glycemic index, contain more fibre and protein and keep you fuller.

Carbohydrates are essential. Brain uses it as a primary source of energy.

So don't completely stop carbs!

8. Avoid mid-meal snacking to lose weight

First off, snacking isn't bad.

Just ensure that the snack is healthy.

Fruits make for an ideal mid-meal snack as do nuts, chana and even yoghurt.

The key to mid-meal snacking is to avoid sugar.

Eat something with fibre that will help you tide over the craving.

Having the right snack will help you manage weight better.

9. Skipping meals is a good idea to lose weight

Yet again this is related to one of the things said earlier:

If you consume lesser calories your body also burns fewer calories.

Apart from that, when you skip a meal, your body craves for more food and calories in the next meal.

Your body has a fixed calorie pattern and until it gets that certain number of calories it will keep demanding for food.

So instead of skipping it, have a healthy square meal instead.

10. Sweating helps you lose weight

Sweating is essentially body's mechanism of maintaining normal body temperature.

That is its only function; it has nothing to do with weight loss!

Sweating is just a by-product of working out.

You burn the same calories when you exercise in winter as you would in summer even though you'd sweat more in summer.

To lose weight you need burn calories and watch what you eat! :-)

(Image used for representational purposes only)

Photograph: Alan Cleaver/Creative Commons

As told to a correspondent