Which diet should you follow? There are now so many different fad diets out there each with conflicting rules that it can be difficult putting your faith in one. It’s true that different diets work better for different people. However, there are some dieting tips that should be taken with a pinch of salt. Here are just some common health statements that are in fact mostly myths.
Never skip breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – or so you may have been told. Some people may even claim that an unhealthy breakfast is better for you than no breakfast at all and that skipping breakfast could even cause you to put on the pounds.
This is largely a myth that breakfast cereals want you to believe. Whilst studies have found that people that skip breakfast are less healthy, this is largely to do with the fact that regular breakfast skippers are more likely to have other unhealthy habits such as heavy drinking, smoking and being less active. The idea that not eating breakfast makes you fat meanwhile is complete balderdash. The claim comes from the fact that by not eating breakfast, you’re hungrier later, which is more likely to make you overeat. However, in many cases you’re likely to be burning more energy whilst not eating that morning, making up for what you eat later. If anything, skipping breakfast is a form of intermittent fasting that could cause you to lose weight.
Small frequent meals will boost your metabolism
There’s also a belief that eating small frequent meals throughout the day gets your metabolism roaring. Your metabolism allows you to turn fat into energy, so the faster it’s working the more easily you’ll lose weight.
The sad truth is that there isn’t really any way of boosting our metabolism. This is something that’s fixed and dependant on how big we are as well as how much muscle mass we have. Consequently, if you want to increase your metabolism, strength training may be more appropriate. By building muscle, your body will burn fat faster to provide this muscle mass with energy.
Fat is bad for you
Obsessive calorie counters may aim to cut all fat from their diets, but this is not healthy. Whilst certainly too much fat is bad for us, not eating fat at all could stop you from absorbing certain vitamins and phytonutrients that are good for our bodies. Fat is also largely the thing that makes us feel full.
It’s therefore good to have some fat in our diets – just not too much. Some fats are also worse than others. The ones to have as a seldom treat are saturated fats and trans fats found in beef, milk, fried fast food and margarine. Healthy fats meanwhile can be found in nuts, fish, olives and canola and are far better for our bodies.
Carbs are bad for you
Some people also claim that carbs are the enemy and that low carb diets are the way forward. This may include cutting out different types of carbs depending on the diet, as the Paleo diet and the Keto diet show.
Eating less carbs can certainly help you lose weight and reduce blood sugar levels, but it can also damage our bodies in other ways. When looking at Paleo vs Keto, whilst both can have positive weight loss effects, there are side effects ranging from tiredness to lower bone density to even increased risk of heart failure. Carbs affect our intake of important anti-oxidants that can help ward off illness. On a short term basis, such a diet may not do too much damage, but in the long term it could be dangerous.
Artificial sweeteners are better for you than refined sugars
Many diet soft drinks have traded in sugar for artificial substitutes such as aspartame. This decision has resulted in years’ worth of debate, with some claiming artificial sugars to be harmless whilst others claim them to be more dangerous than sugar.
Artificial sweeteners will certainly put less calories into your body and can be better for you teeth. In fact, used moderately they could be healthy for you. However high intakes of artificial sweeteners have been shown to have health risks including being linked to cancer. Because artificial sweeteners are not natural, the body also does not know how to react to them. In many cases, they may fail to satisfy a sweet tooth, causing a person to ingest more artificial sweeteners to make up for it or turn to natural sugar to get their kick. Because the body does not know how to digest them as effectively, they may also end up as a formaldehyde-like tar stuck in the gut.
Organic food is healthier than non-organic food
This may be the biggest argument in the nutrition sector. Many people claim that buying organic food from the supermarket that hasn’t been touched by any chemicals is far better for you and that it can even help lead to weight loss.
Whilst natural raw foods are far better than processed food, there’s very little evidence to suggest that an organic carrot is any better than a non-organic carrot. The health benefits are largely to do with how long a vegetable has been out the ground, or how long a piece of meat has been sitting around since it came from its animal source. Organic food from your back garden is likely to be healthier than organic food transported over from America, as minerals may have been lost in the time spent transporting the food. By this token, local produce can often be better for you.
The only way to lose weight is to diet and exercise
Exercise is important for much our bodily functions. It’s important for the health of our heart, our skin, our breathing, our immune system and also good for our mind. Regular exercise could even make you live longer. However, it won’t necessarily make you lose weight.
Scientists have found little evidence to show that exercise alone sheds pounds. A growth in obesity worldwide may be more to do with other factors – one being nutrition. That isn’t to say that we all shouldn’t exercise, as it’s worth doing for all the other health benefits. However you can diet without upping your physical activity and still lose weight.