8 Diet Myths You Need To Ignore
No, you don't need to drink a glass of water when you're hungry.
We’ve all seen our fair share of diets. We’ve bought the books, purchased the plans, followed hundreds of wellness ‘influencers’ and we even started taking our lunches into work because #failtopreparepreparetofail. We fell for the low-carb craze, the ‘clean eating’ phase, and we even found ourselves in a Courgette Crisis. And while our knowledge about nutrition has drastically changed, there still appears to be some some diet myths that refuse to die. Here are eight prevalent diet myths that need to be buried ASAP.
1. Breakfast is the most important meal of the deal
For years we’ve been told that ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day’. Breakfast was deemed the holy grail. ‘Breakfast like a king’ they said. If you want to lose weight or if you want to maintain your current healthy weight, you should never, ever, skip breakfast.
New evidence now tells us that there is actually nothing special about breakfast. “Sure, breakfast sets you up for the rest of the day, but there is technically no one meal that is more important than any other,” according to registered associate nutritionist Pixie Turner. Breakfast does not “boost” your metabolism and skipping it does not necessarily mean you will gain weight.
2. [THIS FOOD] will make you burn fat
From green tea to grapefruit, almonds and even chocolate, it’s claimed that certain foods possess “fat-burning” properties which will directly aid fat-loss when consumed.
However, there is very little scientific evidence for this. The only way to ‘burn fat’ or to lose weight is by creating an energy deficit - i.e. consuming fewer calories, or increasing the number of calories you burn through physical activity, or both.
3. ‘Detoxing’ is effective for kickstarting your weight-loss
Detoxing and detox products claim to ‘clean’ our systems of harmful toxins which inhibit our chances of losing weight. And honestly, who wouldn't want to feel ‘cleansed’ and ‘pure’?
But according to leading Harley Street nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert, “There are so many things wrong with the concept of 'detoxing'. Firstly, we already have designated digestive enzymes in our liver that detox for us, and no juice or tea will do a better job of this.”
In short? You don’t need to detox because you already have an amazing detoxification system. It’s called your liver.
4. Fats won’t make you fat
The good news is that after years of ‘fearing’ the fats we’re finally in a place where we’ve accepted that fat is NOT the enemy. Whether it’s avocado on toast or blended into a smoothie we’re piling our plates with the green stuff, we’re eating eggs like they’re going out of fashion, and we’re spooning our nut butter jars.
While fats are essential to give your body energy and to support the absorption of certain vitamins, they are also higher in calories per gram (nine) than protein and carbohydrates (four). The moral of the story? Eat your fats. But don’t go overboard.
5. No carbs after lunch
Poor carbs. They’ve been the enemy for the past decade. We’ve had low-carb, zero-carb and now people are looking at carbohydrate timing.
“Cutting carbohydrates from meals was once hailed as the answer to fast-track fat loss. However, more recent research has stated that carbs do not equal weight gain and they are an important source of fuel for your brain and body,” says Rhiannon.
So, will you gain fat if you eat carbs after lunch? At 6.01pm? Not exactly. Your total daily caloric consumption and energy expenditure determines whether or not you’ll effectively lose or gain fat. Not the timing.
6. Distract yourself when you get a craving
Go for a walk, drink a glass of water, chew gum, meditate or read a book. You’ve heard it all before. Distraction techniques can be used if the cravings are psychological. But sometimes, you don’t need to ‘wash away’ your cravings with a glass of water. Sometimes, you just need to eat.
From coconut oil in our coffee to goji berries and spirulina juices, superfoods may sound exotic, but the reality? They’re just another glamourised fad.
According to Pixie, "'Superfood' is more a marketing term than anything else… Most so-called 'superfoods' are exotic powders that have nutritional profiles similar to more local foods, but without the hefty price tag.”
In short, an acai bowl isn't going to save you if the rest of your diet is a mess. You’d be better off saving your money and eating more ‘everyday’ whole foods such as spinach, blueberries, nuts and wholegrains.
8. The ‘FREE’ Myth
Gluten-free. Wheat-free. Yeast-free. Fun-free.
Over the past couple of years it’s become increasingly common to follow a ‘gluten-free’ diet based on nothing but pure self-diagnosis. Symptoms such as bloating and gas are often wrongly passed off as an ‘intolerance’.
While there are legitimate reasons to follow a GF diet, it’s important to note that only 5% of the population in the UK should be avoiding gluten.
The take-home point? Unless you have coeliac disease or an autoimmune condition, there is no evidence that eating a gluten-free diet is better for your health or for your weight goals.
Words by Ban Hass