Losing weight — or maintaining a healthy weight — can sometimes seem like a never-ending battle. Dieting strategies abound, from cutting out food groups to returning to the eating habits of your ancestors.
With all of the nutrition advice you may encounter, it might be hard to figure out what dieting tips are helpful. Here are a few dieting myths that you can take with a grain of salt.
‘Cut out carbohydrates’
A low-carb diet is one way that some people try to lose weight, but that does not mean that carbohydrates are inherently bad. In fact, many sources of carbohydrates can be part of a healthy diet. Simple carbohydrates like sugar can be less healthy choices, while nuts and beans can provide important nutrients. Rather than shunning all carbohydrates, pick and choose the ones that will help your body function at its best.
“Carbohydrates can often seem like the enemy for dieters, but they don’t have to be,” says Jill Fujimoto, a registered dietician at Newport Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation. “If you want to include carbs in your meals, look for complex carbohydrates like whole wheat or brown rice that are high in fiber and help you stay full longer.”
‘Avoid all fat’
A slice of pizza with pools of grease is an obvious choice when you are looking for foods to eliminate as part of a weight-loss plan. But, not all fat is the same. Some kinds of fat, like trans fat, should be avoided whether you are trying to lose weight or not. On the other hand, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — what you would find in nuts, seeds and fish — are not only healthier, but your body needs them.
‘Some sugar is better’
This is really a half-myth. In a way, some sugar really is better. Sugar that is naturally in your food, like that in fruits and vegetables, is the best form of sugar. When it comes to added sugar, however, most types break down into fructose and glucose. Your body doesn’t really get more out of table sugar than high fructose corn syrup. No matter the kind of sugar you use, added sugar of any sort should be limited.
‘Never eat late at night’
Eating food before bed isn’t going to derail your diet unless you are eating too much food. Generally, whether you gain or lose weight depends on how many calories you consume and how many you burn. The time of day you eat those calories won’t make you gain weight, but eating late at night because you are bored could lead to overeating if you aren’t careful.
‘Diet is more important than exercise’
This myth is somewhat true: It is easier to drop pounds by eating less than by hitting the gym. Going for a one-hour run will burn about 600 calories for a 160-pound person, but you can eat that many calories in five minutes with a good burger. It is much easier to lose weight by eating healthier, but that does not mean you should shun exercise. Exercise is important for overall health, and it is especially helpful for keeping extra weight off that you’ve lost by eating well.
Losing weight can feel complicated at times, and the endeavor can have you searching for a magic bullet. Rather than buying into dieting myths, find a healthy diet that you can stick to in the long run.