By Stephanie Castillo Prevention
You know you can't believe everything you read. And still, you haven't eaten an egg yolk since the 90s, and you can't touch a French fry without being saddled with guilt. Oh, and don't even get us started on the whole don't-eat-after-8-PM-or-else mentality. Let's set the record straight once and for all by calling out these 25 worst diet tips—and offering up smart food rules to follow instead.
Fat makes you fat.
Why that's BS: It depends on the type of fats you're eating, says Tricia Psota, RD, a nutritionist based in Washington D.C. "Fats in chips, cookies, and greasy foods can increase cholesterol and your risk for certain diseases. But good fats, like nuts, avocados, and salmon, protect your heart and support your overall health." And when paired with a healthy diet, the right fats can help keep you from being, well, fat, adds Sharon Palmer, RD, author of The Plant-Powered Diet. (Check out this list of the best fats you should be eating.)
Stop snacking to lose weight.
Why that's BS: Eating in small, frequent amounts is a great way to curb hunger, control portion sizes, and make better nutritional choices, says Mike Clancy, CDN, a personal trainer at David Barton's Gym in New York City. "Smarter snacks like nuts, fruits, and yogurt will keep your energy levels high throughout the day." (Need proof? Our 400 Calorie Fix plan—which involves three or four meals plus snacks—can help you lose 11 pounds in just two weeks!)
A calorie is a calorie—and you should count them.
Why that's BS: "Not all calories are the same," says Clancy. "The type of calories, the timing of the calories, and the quality of the calories can significantly alter the effect of the calories on the body," he says. "Food creates reactions within our bodies and the type of food you eat is an important component in diets."
For example, 50 calories of an apple will cause a different internal reaction than 50 calories of cheesecake, says Clancy. "The quality of the calories is also important because the chemicals, hormones, and general byproducts that are found within processed food effects the absorption of real nutrients." Quality calories are nutrient dense, like spinach. Calories that don't contain any nutrients—also known as "empty" calories—are like the ones found in French fries.
Bottom line: Calories are important for understanding portion control, but they’re not the only factor in good nutrition, says Clancy.
Cut out carbs.
Why that's BS: The research on carbohydrate intake is often misinterpreted, says Chrissy Carroll, MPH, RD, founder of Inspired Wellness Solutions, LLC. "Yes, it is true that excessive intakes of refined carbohydrates, like white bread or white rice, may lead to weight gain or increased cardiovascular risk. But there is no research suggesting that healthy carbohydrates, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, or legumes, can negatively impact health or weight. On the contrary, many studies suggest a diet high in these plant-based foods is associated with better overall health."
Case in point: A 2002 American College of Nutrition study that found replacing refined grains with whole-grain and minimally processed grain products, along with increasing the intake of fruits and veggies, can help lower dietary glycemic load and insulin demand. This, in turn, can ultimately reduce the risk of both type 2 diabetes and heart disease, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, manager of wellness nutrition services for the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.
So, keep the carbs! And aim for those that come from 100% whole grains or fruits, adds Kirkpatrick.
Load up on protein.
Why that's BS: Sorry, caveman lovers: eating lots of protein is not the key to healthy weight loss. Why? The body needs three macronutrients: Protein, carbohydrates, and fat, says Rania Batayneh, MPH, a nutritionist and author of the forthcoming The One One One Diet (published by Rodale, which also publishes Prevention), and focusing exclusively on protein for weight loss makes no sense. "You not only deprive your body of fiber and other antioxidants found in healthy carbohydrates—whole grains, fruits, and veggies—but you also run the risk of eating too much fat in your diet which can lead to high cholesterol and triglycerides.” (So how much protein should you eat? Prevention’s RD Ashley Koff weighs in, here.)
Go gluten-free to lose weight.
Why that's BS: There's no scientific evidence that gluten is a particularly fattening ingredient, says Palmer. "The problem is that we eat too many refined grains—foods made of white flour or other refined grains," she says.
And cutting gluten without checking with your doctor first can lead to deficiencies in important nutrients, such as fiber, iron, vitamin B12, and magnesium, says MaryAnne Metzak, CDN, a nutritionist in Southampton, NY.
In the meantime, focus on getting healthy whole grains in moderate portions. These recipes for Baked Apple Oatmeal and Skillet Chicken and Rice fit the bill.
You burn more calories working out on an empty stomach.
Why that's BS: Working out with or without food in your stomach doesn't affect calorie burn—but skipping meals before sweat sessions may result in muscle loss, finds a study published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal. And before you settle for a sports drink, know this: While a quick sip of sugar energizes your muscles, the drink’s other artificial additives can be harmful to your health, says Sanda Moldovan, DDS, MS, CNS, a diplomat of the American Academy of Periodontology.
Instead, go for naturally sweet fruit, like bananas, peaches, and mangos before your sweat session. Or try an ounce of dark chocolate for the same caffeine fix you get from a half cup of coffee. "Chocolate also contains feel-good substances, called neurotransmitters, which are the same release during a 'runner's high,' " says Moldovan.
Eat every 2 hours to rev your metabolism.
Why that's BS: Going four or five (or even eight!) hours between normally-sized meals will not make your metabolism slow down, says Monica Reinagel, MS, a nutritionist based in Baltimore. "Eating more frequently may help stave off hunger, which can help you fight temptation. But if you want to do this, you have to be careful to keep your meals and snacks really small," she says. "Otherwise, eating every 2 hours can simply lead to taking in too many calories over the course of the day."
Watch what you eat during the week, but take the weekends off.
Why that's BS: Throwing caution to the wind on the weekends can offset the consistency and success you had all week, says Batayneh. "On the weekends, we tend to sleep in, maybe missing our workout, typically drink more alcohol and have heavier meals. So if you lose about one pound between Monday and Friday, you just might gain it back—or at least maintain it, really taking away the efforts towards weight loss."
Which means if you're trying to lose weight, the weekends shouldn't be a free-for-all. You still need a plan, says Batayneh. Some suggestions: passing on the bread basket and limiting yourself to one cocktail. (Of course, if it's one of our healthy cocktail recipes, we won't tell if you have two.)
Swear off forbidden foods.
Why that's BS: "We tend to be in 'all or nothing' mode when we diet and never seem to find a middle ground," says Batayneh. "You have to realize that you can’t have pizza, French fries, and chocolate cake all in the same day, but—with careful planning—you can enjoy these foods when they are presented to you. Just don’t go for seconds and share if you can." In fact, research shows that moderately indulging in "forbidden foods" is what keeps people from bingeing on the stuff.
Drink your fruits and veggies.
Why that's BS: While shoving five servings of fruits and vegetables into a juicer seems like a simple and efficient way to get the daily recommended amounts, it comes at a cost, says Batayneh. "Unfortunately, juicing fruits and vegetables removes one of their most valuable components: fiber. Found in the pulp, skin and seeds, fiber’s list of benefits ranges from filling you up to maintaining stable blood sugar levels." If you're juicing more sweet stuff (fruit and carrots) than green stuff you're also going to seriously spike your sugar. (Some juicers allow you to keep in the pulp, so that's another option.)
Eat as few calories as possible.
Why that's BS: "Ugh, awful tip," says Carroll. "When you cut your calories too low, your body acts as if it's going into starvation mode and your metabolism slows down." But a reasonable goal, adds Carroll, is to cut approximately 500 calories each day through diet and exercise, which will lead to a healthy rate of weight loss of one pound per week.
Skip breakfast to save up calories for later.
Why that's BS: This backfires, says Carroll. "People end up overeating at lunch and dinner, often in excess of what they 'saved' at breakfast," she says. "In fact, research on individuals who have successfully lost weight shows that they regularly eat a healthy breakfast." Better if it's high in protein, according to this study published in the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition.
Say no to nuts.
Why that's BS: Yes, nuts are calorie dense, but that doesn't mean they can’t—or shouldn't—easily be incorporated into a healthy diet when eaten in proper portions, says Carroll. A 2011 study in the Journal of The American College of Nutrition backs this up, with researchers finding that nut consumers, especially tree-nut consumers (think almonds, pecans and pistachios) had a lower BMI and smaller waist circumference compared to non-consumers.
Your move: remove a less nutrient-dense food from your meal plan and incorporate heart-healthy nuts instead.
Schedule regular detoxes.
Why that's BS: "Your digestive system, kidneys, and liver are all actually fairly amazing at 'detoxing' your body on a regular basis," says Carroll. "There's no need for special cleanses or juices." (Plus, it's miserable! See what happens when one of our editors gave a detox a whirl.)
No food? Grab a multi!
Why that's BS: "While insurance for your health, life, and car are often essential, insurance for your diet really doesn't exist!" says Kirkpatrick. "That's because, except for a few exceptions—folic acid and vitamin D—the vitamins and minerals you get from whole foods are significantly superior to the same nutrients you’d get in a pill."
A 2011 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that the key components in broccoli and cruciferous vegetables were seriously lacking in pill form. And a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that certain dietary supplements, including multivitamins, folic acid, iron, and copper, appeared to be associated with an increased risk of death in older women. (Stay safe with supplements when you consult our definitive guide for women.)
Eschew fatty egg yolks.
Why that's BS: Let’s crack this case for good: A study from the University of Connecticut found that eating dietary cholesterol through egg yolks can actually boost a person's HDL, or "good," cholesterol. "Compared to egg whites, which offer nothing more than protein, the egg yolk contains 100% of the carotenoids, essential fatty acids, vitamins A, E, D, and K," says Batayneh. "They also contain choline, which boosts brain and liver health, as well as reduces inflammation."
In a way, adds Kirkpatrick, eggs are the perfect food. "Enjoying them in moderation—less than 4 to 6 per week—is a perfectly healthy option." (In which case, we'll take this Green Chile and Goat Cheese Omelet, please!)
Artificial sweeteners are a great substitute for sugar.
Why that's BS: This one's gonna hurt, diet soda drinkers: Research indicates a possible link between artificial sweetener consumption and weight gain. A study in the journal Diabetes Care found that daily consumption of diet soda was associated with a 36% greater relative risk of developing metabolic syndrome and a 67% greater relative risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared with non-consumption.
"The presence of constant artificial sweeteners in the diet means you're never really letting your taste buds get a break from the sweet taste you love," says Kirkpatrick. "The more you drink diet soda, the longer you'll remain trapped in the sugar cycle and continue to crave." (Consider these 25 Sassy Water recipes instead.)
Your burn more calories eating your food raw.
Why that's BS: "Many studies show that cooking method—heating, grilling, and microwaving, etc—makes a nutritional difference," says Kirkpatrick. "So while some food may be best eaten raw, that's not the case for all foods."
Oh, and if the whole myth about "negative calories" (you know, the dubious idea that just the act of eating certain foods burns more calories then you actually take in from those foods) draws you to raw foods, think again. "Some foods do require more energy to digest than others, but to live on these so called 'negative calorie foods' results in unsustainable weight loss and can also slow your metabolism down, as well as break down muscle," says Batayneh.
Use fat-free and sugar-free labels as your best guide.
Why that’s BS: Fat-free does not mean healthy, says Psota. There are plenty of foods that are low in fat but high in calories, sugar and sodium. (And sugar, we know now, can keep us fat.) "Most low-calorie, sugar-free products are full of artificial sweeteners, which do more harm than good and actually have been linked to weight gain," she says. Sugar-free beverages in particular have to replace the sugar with chemicals to enhance the taste.
Too much sugary fruit makes you fat.
Why that's BS: The sugar in fruit is not what makes you fat, since it's unprocessed sugar found in its most natural state, says Psota. "Also, cutting fruit out of your diet is a poor choice because of all the fiber that you would be missing. Fiber keeps you full and the nutrients in the fruit nourish your body, which far outweighs the concern of natural sugar that you are consuming when eating, say, an apple."
Eat the same thing every day.
Why that's BS: Um, boring. And being bored will lead to one donut, then two...and you know how it goes. Not to mention you miss out on nutrients if you're eating the same old foods. "Your lineup of foods gives you a broad range of vitamins, minerals, and healthy phytochemicals," says Holly McCord, RD, author of Win the Cholesterol War. "Otherwise, you could choose a dozen healthy foods, but every single one might be low in, for example, vitamin C, or zinc, or both!" (Sign up for our Recipe of the Day newsletter to get fresh recipes delivered to your inbox daily.)
Chew mint gum to eat less.
Why that's BS: Not to burst your bubble, but the lingering taste of mint can actually reduce the palatability of healthy food, finds researchers from the University of Buffalo. That means that when you spit the gum out and go for a snack, that candy bar's likely to look—and taste—a lot more appealing than a carrot.
When doing dairy, only choose skim.
Why that's BS: "The reality is that dairy contains fat, and interestingly, some recent studies from Harvard have found positive attributes of high-quality saturated dairy fat," says Prevention advisor Ashley Koff, RD. "My two cents on 2%? Keep it." Removing all the fat changes the hormonal effects dairy has on the body and can make you struggle to feel full, adds Koff. (Plus, why pass on these 25 tasty twists on yogurt?)
Bypass the meat counter.
Why that's BS: Yes, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association's Internal Medicine suggests that vegetarians may live longer, but the idea you should cut out red meat is a little misguided. "Beef is a healthy and convenient protein that contains iron," says Batayneh. "The problem is when you eat it with bacon, cheese, and onion rings."
A better bet: lean, grass-fed meat. It's pricier than regular beef, but the health perks—vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids—make it worth the splurge. And try to limit yourself to small portions twice a week, says Batayneh. You want to leave room for other animal and vegetarian protein sources, such as chicken, fish, beans, lentils, chia seeds, and avocados. (Meaning you should probably get started on these 25 amazing avocado recipes.)
Read more: http://www.prevention.com/weight-los...#ixzz2cVttjNL2