It is not surprising that many people gained weight starting in March of 2020. Our exercise and basic movement habits changed and even more importantly, our diets changed.
A published peer-reviewed study found that since March an increase in purchases of high-calorie and processed foods and takeout, as well as alcohol, occurred. And let’s not forget the great bakeoffs that started happening in the US every night (though there is now some fatigue happening around that.)
So now that more states have reopened and people are able to move around more, diet and exercise are a bit more accessible and seem more essential right now. Studies have shown that being as healthy as possible can help reduce the risk of dying from COVID-19.
And going on a diet is simple enough, right? Wrong. There are so many myths surrounding diets that sometimes people don’t even know where to start. Here are some of the biggest false notions about diets to help you get started on your healthy journey and will actually help you lose weight.
Gluten-free desserts are healthier than regular desserts
Gluten-free desserts are not healthier than normal desserts? But what? How can that be? “Gluten-free desserts are not healthier than ‘normal’ desserts,” said Lisa Mallonee, a registered dietician with the Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry. “In fact, gluten substitutes may actually increase calorie content and contribute to weight gain. With that being said, gluten-free food is great to consume by those diagnosed with celiac disease or who are gluten-intolerant — but gluten-free desserts should be eaten in moderation and with a balanced diet.”
Eating breakfast helps you burn more calories
Yes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day (though now that so many people work remotely that is changing) but it doesn’t mean you will eat less all day as a result.
In 2019 the BMJ published a review of 13 randomized controlled trials on weight loss and could not find evidence that proved that eating breakfast will contribute to weight loss. Nor could they find that skipping breakfast correlated with weight gain. However, what they did find was that breakfast eaters ate 260 more calories per day on average than non-breakfast eaters. Interesting.
However, a study published in the journal Psychiatry Research has found that skipping breakfast is linked to a greater risk of depression so there is that. to think about.
Spicy foods help you lose weight
Thinking you will just sweat it out? Think again. Yes, spicy foods stimulate brown adipose cells which impacts your metabolism but it is short-lived. Eating a ghost pepper every day should not be looked at as an effective long-term weight loss plan.
Cutting carbs is the only way to lose weight
When it comes to healthy eating, carbs are almost considered a dirty word. And yes, bagels, pizza, chips, those are all not the healthiest foods and fall into the carbohydrates category. But it isn’t as simple as that. David Wiener, a training specialist, said in an interview, “Most fad or celebrity diets always revolve around cutting out specific food groups, such as carbs, claiming that it’s a fast-track solution to weight loss. While they may [sometimes] be the higher calorie option on paper, the reality is carbs make you feel fuller for longer, which means you’re less likely to binge on snacks throughout the day.”
Plus as reported by a recent Harvard study, not all carbs are created equal. “Our findings show clearly that the quality rather than the quantity of macronutrients in our diet has an important impact on our health,” said Zhilei Shan, a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard’s Department of Nutrition, in a press release. “The debate on the health consequences of low-fat or low-carbohydrate diets is largely moot unless the food sources of fats or carbohydrates are clearly defined.”
Plus cutting out carbs completely could lead to a shorter life. Diets where you either get less than 40% of your energy from carbs or more than 70% of your energy or calories from carbs was associated with the greatest risk of death.
So if you fall in between that range you have a healthy diet, according to this study published on Thursday. They looked at 15,428 adults ages 45–64 years in four different communities in the U.S. between 1987 and 1989.
Yes, these diets are effective for losing weight fast but they can have long-term negative ramifications. Of course, this isn’t saying that a high-carb diet is healthy either. The researchers estimated that people who had a moderate carb diet at age 50 had a life expectancy of around 83-years-old, while for high-carb eaters it was 82 and it was 79 for low-carb people.
Other studies suggest that if you want to cut back on carbs, try replacing them with beans, nuts, and seeds instead of just meats and cheeses.
You can target one area for weight loss
Wouldn’t that be nice if we could just say stomach fat go away and then I’ll deal with the rest later? But it’s not true. Margie Clegg, a certified personal trainer, and certified sports nutritionist told InStyle.com, “We lose body fat in different areas at different speeds, and no matter how much we try, we can’t control which areas the body fat will come off first. Focus on movements like squats, lunges, and push-ups, which use larger and smaller muscles in the body and give you more bang for your buck.”
All fats are bad
Just like there are good witches and bad witches, there are also good fats and bad fats. But like carbs, we think fat is a scary word. Your body needs good fats like polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) or you would recognize them as omega-3 and omega-6. Plus even if something says low-fat on the label it doesn’t mean you are in the safe zone. These can be filled with sugar and sodium which will make you gain weight.
Drinking more water per day will help you lose weight
Hmm not sure who came up with this one. Yes, you should drink a lot of water every day and if you have some before a meal it may help make you satiated faster but upping your H20 intake will not make you lose weight. However, it can be argued that if you are dehydrated but eating a very healthy diet you will not lose weight because then your body can’t burn fat.
Eating late will make you gain weight
A new crossover clinical study from this year, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that people who eat a late dinner not only burn less fat overnight and also have higher blood sugar levels than those who eat dinner earlier in the evening. “Consuming calories later in the day is associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome,” the researchers wrote in the new paper. “We hypothesized that eating a late dinner alters substrate metabolism during sleep in a manner that promotes obesity. These metabolic changes were most pronounced in habitual earlier sleepers determined by actigraphy monitoring.”
However, Malonee argues that case. She says it really comes down to portion control. “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.”
You can eat a huge meal if you just exercised!
You just had a great workout so therefore you can eat whatever you want? Right? Wrong! “It’s super common for your appetite to turn up just as your fitness hits full blast,” Torey Armul, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics told Prevention.com. “And when you burn more calories, your body naturally wants to compensate by eating more calories to make up for what you’re burning.”
So not only are you eating more, but you are also justifying it because you probably thought you burned more calories during your workout then you actually did. This is going to be harder than you thought.