There is so much false information out there these days that it can be very difficult to know what is actually bad for you and what is good for you. This is a problem because you could be avoiding foods or activities that you think are bad for you when they actually could be quite good for you. The reverse is even worse when you think you doing all the right things to be healthy and these things are actually hurting you.
Below lists the worst diet myths I hear all of the time that you need to stop believing:
1. "Endurance cardio is the best for fat loss"
First let me start this by saying that I ran the New York City marathon and I love running, however, there is no denying the fact that endurance cardio is muscle wasting and causes stress on the body. If you are trying to lose weight, the last thing you want to do is any activity that will make you lose muscle. This is because muscle is your metabolically active tissue, meaning the more muscle you have the more calories you are going to burn with activity and at rest. Endurance running also makes you hungrier which is why a lot of marathoners can actually gain weight when training!
Instead go for high intensity interval training and strength training which are muscle preserving and increase your metabolic rate.
2. "Eat less to burn fat"
Never take advice from someone who tells you that if you eat less you will burn fat. Unfortunately, our body does not work that simplistic. If you give your body less calories and less nutrients it needs, this is going to cause your body to slow down and preserve energy. When your body needs more calories it will also go after your metabolically active tissue, which is your muscle mass. This is why when dieters eat very low calories, most of the weight comes from muscle and not from fat. When you lose muscle you will burn less calories, and your metabolism slows even further.
If we changed this sentence to "eat less processed foods and carbohydrates" then the above would be more of a correct sentence, but just telling you to eat less of what you are already eating is not doing you any good. To preserve muscle and promote fat loss, eat fiber, protein, and fat at each meal.
3. "Eat carbohydrates at breakfast to keep you full"
This is another very bad recommendation we've been told and it needs to stop. Cereal, bagels, toast, pastries, instant oatmeal, all of these foods have been marketed as healthy meals to fuel up on for breakfast. Unfortunately, all of these high carbohydrate foods promote fat storage, not fat loss. This is because carbohydrates increase blood sugar, and high blood sugar triggers the release of the fat storage hormone insulin. Insulin's job is to remove the sugar and store it for later use. Where does insulin preferentially like to store the calories from sugar? Your fat cells, hence the nickname the "fat storage hormone." This rapid decrease in blood sugar (due to the effect of insulin) makes you feel hungry again, and makes you crave sugar because your blood sugar is now lower than what you started with before you even ate the carbohydrate meal. You eat more carbs, and the above cycle starts all over again. This is why carbohydrates are literally the worst thing you can eat in the morning.
Instead go for a high fat and/or high protein breakfast which have little to no effect on insulin.
4. "You must eat breakfast every morning"
Again, no. If you are no hungry in the morning, you do not have to eat breakfast. This was a recommendation put out there in the universe to get you to buy the cereals, donuts, and bagels you see constantly advertised on the television. What you eat and drink first thing in the day is the most important because it sets up the rest of your day. Go for protein and/or fat to prevent blood sugar spikes and lows that happen when you eat carbohydrates, setting you up for mood swings and huger for the rest of the day.
If you are not hungry in the morning, then skip breakfast and just drink water until lunch or you become hungry.
5. "Eating fat will make you fat"
Eating fat does not make you fat. Fat keeps you full because it does not affect your blood sugar and takes a long time to digest. Fat is the building block of your skin and all hormones, and is an essential macronutrient meaning you cannot survive if you are not consuming some fat. This doesn't necessarily mean you can go and eat blocks and blocks of cheese past the point of fullness, it means that adding fat to each meal will keep you more satisfied and full which will prevent you from overeating.
Eat fat at each meal to feel more full, satisfied, and to give your body the essential nutrients it needs for optimal functioning.
6. "A juice fast makes you lose fat and burn fat"
Just drinking juice for a couple days or few days is not going to make your body burn fat. The weight you lose is going to be a combination of water and muscle loss. Plus, when you go back to your normal diet again you might even end up gaining more weight compared to what you started with!
Note: Many individuals will say how amazing they feel after a juice detox. This is due to what the individuals have not been eating during the juice fast, it's not because of the juice. If this is true for you, think about the foods you cut out during the fast and consider cutting them out on a regular basis.
Save your money and skip the juice detox. If you want a juice, drink a vegetable based juice.
7. "Exercise more and eat less to lose fat"
This goes along with the above, but many individuals believe this is true. This is a recipe for disaster for a couple of reasons. First of all, just telling you to exercise more and eat less of the same foods simply does not work. This is why diets always fail because they all try and make this simplification. Unfortunately, when you exercise more this can make you hungrier, which makes it hard to eat less and instead you may actually eat more without even realizing it. It also depends which type of exercise you do. As you learned above, endurance training is the least effective while intervals and strength training are way more effective and take less of your time. The second next scenario is that say you are able to exercise more and eat less (even though you are starving everyday) and you find that you aren't seeing much change on the scale or in your clothes, and this is because your body will slow down its metabolic rate to conserve calories since it thinks you are starving. Then when you try to go back to eating regularly (which you eventually will because you are starving) not only are you going to gain the weight back, but you will likely gain back even more weight than you started with! This is because you're metabolic rate has slowed and you lost your metabolically active tissue (aka muscle).
Exercise smarter by doing more interval training and strength training. Eat smarter by eating fiber, fat, and protein at each meal and eat until you are full.