As a diet coach and mentor, one of the things that I keep getting asked is, “Amit, I have heard that eating XYZ food, in XYZ quantity, at XYZ time can really help me lose weight, is that true?” Well my answer to that, and every other dietary myth, is a resounding no. Dieting is about building a better and sustainable lifestyle for yourself, and NOT just about losing weight. Granted that weight loss and maintenance is a key component of dieting, but it isn’t everything. So today I thought of helping you out by debunking the most common dietary myths. After all, right dieting begins with the right facts.
Myth: See children CARBS are bad!
Fact: Carbs aren’t all bad; and a low carb diet, if not planned properly can do more harm than good!
I’m here to tell you that they aren’t. If you blindly follow the crowd and ape a low carb diet, you surely will consistently lose kilo after kilo, but you need to be wary of the cost. In the long term, eating either the wrong carbs or fewer carbs in total, will actually leave you feeling drowsy, lethargic and even giddy. Why? Quite simply because carbs are the primary energy betowing content of your diet. So cutting them out completely is definitely a bad idea!
Myth: Eat before 8, you’ll never put on weight!
Fact: Eat when you’re hungry, eat in the right quantity, exercise as well to stave off the weight!
People often say that you shouldn’t eat your dinner too late. But in a lifetime of stress, long days at work and unplanned trips to restaurants, that’s not always possible. While eating late can cause you to put on weight, it is often what you eat, and NOT what time you eat that is to blame. So if you are one of those people who loves to end their day with a gooey chocolate sundae, then I’d have to ask you to refrain from doing that. Another major reason for late night snacking is that people don’t drink enough water. In the late night your body can often confuse thirst with hunger. A great idea would be to have a couple of glasses of water before you sleep, and of course to wait at least a couple of hours after you’ve eaten, to hit the hay! Take a post dinner stroll and I believe you will never snack out of turn again!
Myth: Howzzat with low fat!
Fact: Low fat foods are not as innocent as you think they are
Remember that weight loss and diet is a process and cannot be solved by crazy fads or low fat anything! In fact sometimes low fat foods are higher in calories, simply because of some of the things that are added to replace the ‘fat’ components. Portion control is the only way in which you can actually eat healthy and also lose weight consistently.
Myth: Dairy foods are scary foods
Fact: Don’t ditch dairy cause you think it is fattening, you’ll be losing out on a lot of good stuff if you do!
Dairy has gotten a bad reputation off late. The fact of the matter is that foods like skim milk, yogurt and even some types of cheese are loaded with healthy goodness and should never be ignored. Yogurt has amazing probiotic bacteria that can do wonders for the health of your gut, add to that the overall cooling effect it has on you. Milk and cheese are great sources of calcium and help with overall bone health. So don’t ditch the white completely, in the long run you’ll be doing yourself more harm than good!
Myth: Small meals = Better metabolism
Fact: Food and the frequency of meals have little to do with your BMR (basal metabolic rate)
You must have heard the theory that eating frequent small meals will help alter your metabolism. The sad fact is that just like the colour of your skin, your Basal Metabolic Rate is something you’re born with, and no amount of eating tiny or microscopic meals and snacks will help you up that. Eating small meals will however keep you satiated for longer and enable you to make snacking healthy a habit. The only thing that actually helps improve your metabolic rate is exercise. Quick fact: A pound of fat-free tissue actually burns up to 14 calories a day, as against one pound of fatty tissue, which burns 2-4 calories a day. So hitting the gym, pumping iron and stuff like Pilates are the only thing that will help with your metabolism.
Myth: Caffeine is the ONE thing that can help you lose weight!
Fact: Caffeine is short term arrangement, a healthy diet and exercise are the key to sustainable health and weight loss.
The theory is that caffeine, an upper helps you energise yourself, be more productive and hence lose calories. The sad fact is that most of us have cafe au lait, or black coffee, with sugar by the cup-loads and while it is an amazing pick-me-up, it is also loaded with calories. This means that you will, if anything, only lose your appetite for a while. The key to sustained weight loss and a healthier lifestyle therefore is diet and exercise. No shortcuts, unfortunately!
Myth: Treats are the enemy of a diet
Fact: If you indulge in treating yourself once in a while, there’s a chance you will actually stick to your diet plan better.
People often think that occasional indulgences like chocolates, a pizza or some of their favourite foods, will cause them to fall off the diet plan. The reality of the matter is that once in a while treats or a cheat day, every week is actually necessary, in order for you to stick to your diet plan better, Psychologically speaking we all have a comfort food that we turn to in times of stress. A new diet plan can sometimes be a stressor and treating yourself to a small indulgence can actually act as an incentive to following that diet better!
Myth: Diet means no drinking
Fact: It isn’t the alcohol that is a problem, but the frequency, quantity and mixers that cause more harm!
Just because you’re on a diet doesn’t mean that you cannot indulge in an occasional alcoholic beverage. It is a matter of smart substitutions, and cutting out sugary carbonated beverages that can make all the difference. So for instance if you’re a Jack and Coke kind of person, indulge in the Jack Daniels, with soda and a spritz of lime. Sure alcohol contains calories, but your drink becomes a purveyor of empty calories thanks to the aerated sugary beverages. In fact a couple of drinks once a week can actually help you in the long run!
Myth: Artificial sweeteners are the key to enjoying sweet food sans the extra weight
Fact: Sugar is bad, but artificial sweeteners are way, way worse
Sugar is definitely one of the most addictive substances in the world. Fact is it is more difficult to give up sugar, than it is to give up cocaine! But if you think artificial sweeteners like saccharin and aspartame are the solution to your sugar cravings, think again! Artificial sweeteners do not pack in the calories, but the long term ill-effects of these are seriously scary, from Alzheimer’s to kidney disorders to dementia, aspartame and other sweeteners have been linked with deadly diseases and are the stuff nightmares are made of. Sweet doesn’t have to mean lethal, so substituting sugar with jaggery, palm jaggery and even stevia are all safer and lower calorie (even yummy) options!
Myth: Salads are ALL you need to lose weight
Fact: Veggies are low in calories, but toppings are not!
Fast food purveyors like Subway and the like will have you believe that salads are excellent for weight loss. Subway even made a claim that their spokesperson Jared actually ate nothing but their subs and salads to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The claim was later rubbished and both Jared and Subway came clean! Fact is veggies are low in calories and when eaten raw, do not add up to a lot of empty calories. Adding lean meat to this combo, makes it a great source of protein as well. The main enemy though are the sauces and toppings that can hijack even the most well intentioned salad! So stay away from mayo, 1000 island, southwest, barbecue, sweet onion and all those fat based toppings and you’re good! Replace them with a low-fat alternative like a vinaigrette, or olive oil!
Weight loss, a healthy lifestyle and holistic living are all part of a well thought out change that comes from within, knowing the facts can help you make better decisions about them. If you have any queries, feel free to request a free consultation and follow me on social media, I’d be more than happy to address any queries you may have.