Diet Myths and Facts
Dieting is a national obsession which has led to many fads and myths. We sift through the most common misconceptions.
Eating late at night will pile on weight.
Recent experiments at the Human Nutrition Research Centre in Cambridge revealed that people who ate their main meal at 8pm burned up exactly the same amount of calories as others who ate their main meal at lunchtime.
Drinking before dinner stimulates appetite.
Most diets suggest cutting out alcohol because of its high calorie content, but it is more insidious for the dieter than had been previously suspected. Dutch researchers did tests on 40 men and women, which revealed that those who drank an alcoholic beverage 30 minutes before a meal ate quicker and consumed more calories.
People are overweight because they have slow metabolisms.
Unfortunately, a slow metabolism is no excuse for being overweight. In fact, recent studies revealed that fat people have faster metabolisms and burn off more energy than slimmer people simply to keep their bodies going. There is not one case of an obese person with a significantly slow metabolism.
Dieting dulls the mind.
Studies have shown there is a link between dieting and mental performance. The reduction in working memory capacity occurs because slimmers’ brains are so preoccupied with dieting that other brain processes don’t get a look in.
Obesity is genetic.
Only 1pc of obese people can blame their parents. The obesity epidemic is down to sedentary lifestyles with energy-rich and fat-laden diets.
Breakfast is the most important meal and eating it can help lose weight.
The body’s internal chemistry is at its most active first thing in the morning, so anything eaten then will be used to the maximum.
Yoghurt is the perfect diet food.
Many dieters swear by it, but some yoghurt can be as fattening as ice cream. Greek yoghurt has 10 pc fat.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
People who eat temperate fruits (such as apples) as opposed to tropical fruits have less of a chance of getting heart disease. Apples are part of the carbohydrate group which has a low glycaemic index and, therefore, only slightly raise blood-sugar levels.
Calories from fat make you fatter than calories from carbohydrates.
It makes no difference whether excess calories are from fat such as butter or a carbohydrate like bread, both will make you fatter.
People who diet live longer.
A low-calorie yet nutritionally balanced diet has been shown to dramatically slow down the aging process. The Biosphere 2 experiment in Arizona kept eight people to a diet of 1,800 calories a day, with nutrients and vitamins carefully regulated. After two years the guinea pigs had increased their life span by as much as 50 pc in some cases.
Exercise makes you eat more.
Often people shy away from doing exercise using this excuse. However, research has shown that after 20 minutes of exercise people ate no more than those who had done nothing. The only difference was that those who had exercised thought the food tasted better.
Drinking a litre of water everyday helps dieting.
Not only does water flush out and purify the system but drinking a glass of water 30 minutes before a meal helps weight loss. It fills up the stomach and makes you eat less.
Chocolate makes you fat.
All diets tell you to avoid chocolate. But in scientific studies neither chocolate, nor any other individual food, has been implicated as the sole cause of weight gain.
Becoming a vegetarian helps weight loss.
Red meat contains a great deal of saturated fat, so cutting it out will reduce one’s fat intake, as long as the red meat isn’t replaced by sweets and crisps.
You can change your body shape through dieting.
People often diet not because they are overweight, but because they are unhappy with their body shape. Sadly they are wasting their time. A pear shape will simply be a smaller pear shape after dieting. The only thing that can help is exercise, which can help streamline certain areas.
‘Grazing’ helps dieters lose weight.
According to Professor John Blundell, chair of Psychobiology at the University of Leeds, eating four or five high-carbohydrate, low-fat snacks daily can result in people consuming fewer calories and grams of fat daily than if they ate three square meals.
Reduced-fat foods help you lose weight.
Most diets suggest eating low-fat foods. They can help but many are bulked out with other ingredients to replace the fat, which means that the calorie count – the crucial factor in determining whether a food will make you put on weight – is barely reduced.
Tomato ketchup can prevent heart disease more effectively than fresh tomatoes.
Although many diets suggest cutting out tomato ketchup because of its high sugar levels, nonetheless it contains Lycopene, a substance that plays a vital role in cutting the risk of heart disease and some cancers. Lycopene is found in fresh tomatoes, but the body finds it easier to digest when in ketchup form.
Crash diets always lead to weight gain.
There used to be an idea that somehow yo-yo dieting made one lose lean tissue, water and fat, only to put weight back on. But studies have shown that this is not the case. The body composition stays largely the same throughout the cycle of weight loss and gain.
Dieting is hard work.
An international team of scientists has found that dieting is a constant battle because cells in the brain remember the amount of the fat in the body and keep it constant. When people diet the brain thinks the body is starving and initiates responses that prevent the individual from losing weight.
by GAVANNDRA HODGE, Daily Mail
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