Tuesday, August 11, 2009

12 Popular Diet Myths

You Will Never Need Math in Your Life

Remember when you were in grammar school and you thought, “Oh c’mon, I am never going to use this stuff…” Well it’s true, you will need basic math to lose weight and here’s why.

Weight loss equates to calorie expenditure or reduction. Basically, in order to lose 1 pound of weight, you will need to cut back or expend 3,500 additional calories.

So here’s where the math comes in. You will need to assess how many calories you are consuming daily using your products dietary guidelines.

My suggestion is to chart your food for no less than 1 week. Write everything down you consume and then calculate the calories associated. Make no changes for the first week. After that then you can look at where you can make changes objectively.

For example, if I consume 3,300 calories a day and want to lose 5 pounds in 1 month then I need to reduce my calories by 750 each day. (3,300 calories consumed each day x 7 days = 23,100 calories consumed in 1 week. Remember 3,500 calories is needed to lose 1 pound per week so I need 5,250 in caloric deficit to lose 1.5 pounds; 5,250/7 days = 750. 3,300, what I was eating – 750, either through less caloric intake or more activity = a new total of 2,550 calories allowed per day.)

Basic math I know, but there are numerous calorie counting calculators you can find online to help. Once you get the hang of it, you will make your old math teacher proud.

Joy Bauer's Food Cures
By Joy Bauer
TODAYShow.com contributor
updated 10:24 a.m. ET, Tues., Aug 11, 2009

How safe are baby carrots? Just how damaging is yo-yo dieting? Are there specific foods that cause cellulite? There are still many common questions about dieting that leave many confused. TODAY nutrition and diet editor Joy Bauer helps separate fact from fiction:

Myth No. 1: Baby carrots are soaked with a toxic chemical and are unsafe to eat
This myth has been widely circulated through e-mail chains and seems to resurface every couple of months. The truth is that cut baby carrots, like bagged salad mixes and other “ready to eat” fresh vegetables, are rinsed in a dilute chlorine solution to inhibit bacterial growth. However, the trace amount of chlorine used is carefully regulated by the FDA and not harmful. In fact, this process protects your health by preventing the spread of foodborne illness. By the way, that white blushed color your baby carrots get is not caused by the chlorine. It’s just discoloration that naturally occurs as the carrots lose moisture.

Myth No. 2: High-fat and high-sugar foods cause cellulite
Nope, not true! Cellulite is pockets of body fat located just beneath the surface of the skin. When this fatty tissue pushes up against the connective tissue that binds skin together, it produces a bumpy, dimpled texture, most often in the hips, buttocks and thighs. And while genetics plays the strongest role in determining who gets cellulite and where, there are some factors you can control.

When it comes to diet, it’s important to understand that no specific foods cause cellulite. That said, overindulging in high-calorie foods (often laden with sugar and fat) leads to weight gain, which can make cellulite more noticeable. While slimming down and toning your lower-body muscles certainly won’t make cellulite disappear, it can help to minimize its appearance and make you more comfortable in your skin.

Myth No. 3: Dairy is bloating
Dairy is only bloating for people with lactose intolerance ... and, in some instances, for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). If you don’t fall into either of these groups, low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese should not cause bloating or discomfort. Even among individuals with lactose intolerance, some dairy products may be tolerated without symptoms. For example, hard cheeses (such as Cheddar and Swiss) and yogurts that contain live active cultures are usually easier to digest than straight milk or ice cream. Experiment with your diet before you give up on dairy altogether.

Myth No. 4: Alcohol turns to sugar in the body
Contrary to what most people think, alcohol does not act like a sugar, significantly raise blood sugars, or get stored in the body as sugar. In fact, alcohol is a completely separate entity; it’s not digested in the same way as the carbs, fats and proteins that enter our system. Alcohol is metabolized strictly by our liver, while carbs, proteins and fat are broken down by a slew of enzymes in our intestines and then absorbed.

In fact, hard liquors like rum, gin and vodka don’t contain any sugar or other carbohydrate whatsoever (all of their calories come from pure alcohol). Of course the mixers we douse them with are another story altogether! Mixers like sour mix, simple syrups, margarita mix, tonic and juices are loaded with simple sugars, which contribute major calories and can spike your blood sugar levels. Wine and champagne contain a very small amount of carbohydrate — about 3 grams per 5-ounce glass (that’s just 12 calories of carb out of 120 calories for the glass). Beer has the most carbohydrates — about 12 grams per 12-ounce bottle (that’s 48 calories of carb out of 150 calories for the bottle).

Keep in mind: While alcohol doesn’t act like a sugar, it does contain calories and can contribute to weight gain (not to mention bad decisions!) if consumed in excess. So while alcohol may be misunderstood, the extra calories coming from alcohol — just like those from carbs, fat and protein — will be stored by the body as fat and pack on the pounds.

Myth No. 5: Yo-yo dieting kills your metabolism
“I’ve been on so many diets, my metabolism is shot!” Yup, I’ve heard that one before. Fortunately, studies have shown it’s simply not true. Though your resting metabolic rate does slow down a bit when you restrict calories, the drop is only temporary, so dieting won’t cause any permanent damage to your metabolism or make it impossible for you to lose weight in the future. However, there may be some other serious negative side effects. A handful of studies have shown that “weight cycling” is associated with low bone density, which could place yo-yo dieters at higher risk for fractures. If you have a long history of dieting, it’s all the more important that you incorporate resistance training into your routine to prevent further bone loss (and take in adequate calcium and vitamin D from food and/or supplements).

Additional Diet Myths...

What is a diet myth? The dictionary defines the word "myth" as "a fiction or half-truth". Let’s do an examination of several of these myths regarding weight loss.

Myth #1: If you stick to your diet, you don’t need to exercise to lose weight. If Myth #1 was true, the whole world would be thin because most people have tried to lose weight this way. This diet myth is listed first because it is probably the one that is believed the most. Wouldn't it be nice if the pounds just came off without breaking a sweat? Forget about it!

To maintain your body weight, the calories you take in should equal the calories you expend, so the most effective way to lose weight is by reducing calories and increasing exercise. However, exercise is important even if you are not trying to lose weight, as it also improves cardiovascular health, circulation and decreases your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Doctors have stated that it is better to be fit and slightly overweight than thin and unfit, as physical activity is as important as weight in preventing heart disease. It is advisable to start off slowly before building up to a more rigorous plan. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator or walk to the next bus stop instead of waiting at the stop. If you exercise and have a healthy diet, you will find it easier to lose weight and keep it off. Counting calories can be effective.

Myth #2: Diets based on single foods (i.e. the cabbage soup, grapefruit or egg diets) are the best way to lose weight. This is another one of those diet myths that has tricked many people into thinking weight loss is easy. Diets based on a particular food or food type promise rapid weight loss in a short period of time, but only work because they severely restrict calories. These diets are unsustainable long-term and can lead to deficiencies since single foods don’t contain the range of nutrients we need to stay healthy. The Academy of General Dentistry suggests that certain diets like this can even negatively affect oral health since they lack nutrients like calcium and vitamin D, which are necessary for maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

Myth #3: Low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets are the best way to lose weight. People who follow ‘low-carb’ diets tend to lose weight initially, but much of this weight is water. Many may dispute this diet myth. Of course the Atkins Diet comes to mind. Here is the problem with weight loss method. Since calories from carbs are the first thing our body uses for fuel, following a low-carb diet forces the body to quickly use this energy, then revert to stored carbs (known as glycogen) from the liver and muscles for energy. Since water is stored in the body with glycogen, you lose water as this glycogen is used for energy. Therefore most of the weight loss that occurs at this point is water and not fat. Just like the other diet myths mentioned here, practitioners of this method end up dissapointed. Once these stored carbs are used up, the body then relies on protein for energy and as a result, compounds called ketones are produced. These can be dangerous, particularly for people with medical problems such as heart disease, hypertension, kidney disease, and diabetes because the brain relies on glucose for energy, but ketones don’t provide energy for the brain. The body therefore tries to eliminate ketones through the liver and kidneys, which puts a severe strain on these organs because of the toxicity of ketones to the body. For people with metabolic problems, ketones are particularly hard to metabolize and eliminate. Due to the high level of ketones produced in a low-carb/high-protein diet, you may also experience dehydration, weakness, nausea and, in severe cases, gout and kidney problems. Additionally, many low-carb/high-protein diets can be problematic if the protein you eat is high in saturated fat (such as fatty bacon or cheese), because it increases the risk of heart disease. Despite the belief that carbs are fattening, fat is much higher in calories than carbohydrates. Current nutritional advice advocates a low-fat diet.

Myth #4: A diet is successful only if you lose more than two pounds a week. Wow! This diet myth might be the greatest diet myth on the page. Your main goal when trying to lose weight is to reduce fat rather than muscle. But if you lose more than two pounds a week you’ll also lose lean tissue (or muscle). Because your basal metabolic rate (or the speed at which you burn calories) is determined by the amount of lean tissue you have, less muscle means your metabolism slows down and it becomes difficult to sustain weight loss. This diet myth is important to read again. Be careful what you are losing when your weight drops.

Myth #5: Potatoes and other carbs are fattening. Carbohydrate foods like potatoes, rice, pasta, and bread are not fattening unless you put fat (in the form of sauces or butter) on top of them. Carbs play an important role in diets since they satisfy our appetite without being too high in calories. Fats, however, are less satisfying and have over twice the amount of calories per gram as carbs (9 calories per gram compared to 3.75 calories per gram respectively). Because fat is less satisfying, we tend to eat more of it. A low-fat, high-carb diet is therefore more effective for weight loss because you stave off hunger by eating carbs and are less likely to overdo your fat intake.

Myth #6: Fat is not a four-letter word. Fat is not bad for you. In fact, it is important to get 35% of your daily calories from fat (if you eat around 2000 calories a day, you’ll need about 70g fat). Fat has many crucial functions aside from being a concentrated source of energy. First, it circulates fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K through the blood so they can be absorbed by the body. Secondly, fat contains essential fatty acids such omega-3 and omega-6, needed for the proper formation of the nerve walls. Note: it’s better to eat poly- and mono-unsaturated fats (such as olive oil) which are good for your heart, than saturated fats (such as animal fats) which increase the risk of heart disease. Because fat is a concentrated source of energy, you don’t need to eat a lot of it. Here’s how to reduce your fat intake:

· Switch to lower fat versions of milk, cheese and other dairy products.
· Use leaner cuts of meat and remove skin from chicken.
· Use little or no fat in cooking. Grill, poach or steam rather than fry

Myth #7: You can’t have sugar, fat or alcohol if you’re on a diet. A realistic diet will not restrict certain foods or ingredients (especially our favorite ones) like sugar, fat and alcohol across the board, as this will only make you feel deprived. For many people, an eating plan that doesn’t allow the occasional treat is a short-lived one. Additionally, if you severely restrict your calories while dieting, then once you stop the diet and begin to eat these foods again (which is inevitable), you will likely gain the weight back. This is because your metabolism slowed during the diet and you won’t be able to efficiently burn the amount of calories you’re now consuming. Because many people find they can stick to a long-term diet if they’re allowed the occasional sugary ‘treats’, many successful weight loss programs allow sweets. If you have a sweet tooth or drink alcohol regularly, the most effective way to reduce your intake is to phase out these items gradually. This might mean cutting down on ‘visible sugar,’ such as the pure kind you put in tea or coffee. For alcohol, it might mean alternating alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic ones.

Most importantly, chronic dieting can have a negative impact on psychological health. Weight loss followed by weight regain can squash self-esteem and promote feelings of failure. This mind-set makes it difficult to maintain a healthy relationship with food. With that in mind, take care of your body and your psyche — avoid crash dieting and instead stick with a program you can sustain long term.