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7 common diet and weight loss myths busted

June 19, 2014 17:42 IST

7 common diet and weight loss myths busted

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Nimi Jayachandran, Courtesy YouthIncMag

Vegetarian diets do not contain enough protein!

Late night snacking makes you fat!

Consuming less fat is a good thing!

You've heard 'em all!

But how true are these things really?

We dispel seven popular food myths and misconceptions.


Myth 1: Carbohydrates make you fat

Fact: Eating too many calories (regardless of the source of the calories) makes you gain weight.

Why the misconception: The Atkins diet propagates high protein and low carbohydrates for the purpose of weight loss. Many people have misconstrued this as eating a carbohydrate rich diet will lead to excess weight gain.

Keep in mind: Jean Harvey-Berino, chair of the department of nutrition and food sciences at the University of Vermont, points out that eating too many calories, irrespective of the source, leads to excess weight gain.

While certain foods with high refined carbohydrate content, such as white bread, can raise the risk of developing a heart disease or diabetes, cutting out foods with 'good' carbohydrates reduces a number of vital nutrients and fibre required in one's diet.

Check out our Health and Fitness section here!

Courtesy:YouthIncMag.com

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Photographs: Paul Goyette/ Creative Commons

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Myth 2: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes

Fact: Type 1 diabetes is largely caused by genetic factors while Type 2 diabetes is a result of a generally inactive lifestyle and complications of being overweight.

Why the misconception: The misconceptions about diabetes probably result from the fact that high blood sugar results in diabetes. Although reducing sugar intake definitely has health benefits, excess sugar isn’t really a direct cause of diabetes.

Keep in mind: A diet high in calories, from any source, will contribute to weight gain which may indirectly trigger Type 2 diabetes.

In addition, the American Diabetes Association recommends that people limit their intake of sweetened beverages as these have been proven to be linked to developing Type 2 Diabetes.

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Photographs: Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/ Rediff.com

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Myth 3: Eating many small meals in a day instead of a few large ones helps you lose weight

Fact: There is no change in metabolism when taking many small meals, large enough to contribute to weight loss.

Why the misconception: Our metabolism gears up every time we eat, thus having many smalls a meal throughout is thought to increase our metabolism rate which will in turn reduce weight.

Keep in mind: When applied to some people, eating more often is not the same as eating several smaller meals. In such a case, the person tends to eat more and will put on more weight than they would lose.

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Myth 4: Midnight snacking makes you gain weight

Fact: The time a meal is eaten has no relevance to the weight gained from the meal.

Why the misconception: Midnight snackers tend to choose foods with high calorie content and the amount of calories consumed is directly related to weight gain.

Keep in mind: Dr John Foreyt,director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine, says “What matters are the total calories you take in, and not the time they are eaten.”

Late night eating is linked with indigestion and heart burn, so it is suggested to have earlier meals.

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Myth 5: Vegetarian diets do not contain enough protein

Fact: Half a cup of beans roughly has the same amount of protein as an ounce of meat.

Why the misconception: Meat products generally tend to have high protein content. This has resulted in the wrong belief that a typical vegetarian meal is always low in protein.

Keep in mind: A diet should be rich in the essential amino acids, not just proteins. In order to pack all the essential amino acids into one’s diet, it is important to focus on a wide range of protein containing plants.

A few good examples are lentils, beans, nuts, seeds and almonds.

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Myth 6: Microwave radiation creates dangerous compound in food

Fact: Any change occurring in the food is the result of heat generated within the food and not due to the microwave itself.

Why the misconception: The term radiation is believed to be energy that is harmful for the human body. While X-rays and gamma rays can result in health problems, the rays in a microwave are too weak to cause any worries.

Keep in mind: Certain plastic containers are not capable of withstanding the heat in a microwave.

Utensils which are not microwave friendly may melt due to heat and leak compounds into the foods. Only microwave-safe containers should be used.

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Myth 7: Eating less fat is good for you

Fact: Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are known as ‘good’ fats and are required as part of a healthy diet.

Why the misconception: Fat has become an umbrella term which is thought to be the nutrients that lead to weight gain and health complications. In reality, saturated and trans fat should be avoided.

Keep in mind: Nuts, seeds, fish, avocado, olives are all rich sources of ‘good’ fats. They help produce necessary hormones, rebuild cells, and in providing energy.

Check out our Health and Fitness section here!


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