Six Common Diet Myths
The breathless pace at which many of us lead life in today's world often leads us to look for the fastest and easiest way to deal with lifestyle-induced ailments like obesity and diabetes. Further, with the mounting pressure of having to look your absolute best, at virtually every hour of the day, larger hoards of unwitting individuals are driven towards these "fad diets," which in turn prompts these self-proclaimed fitness gurus to churn out several more to keep up with the ever-increasing demand.
However, the unfortunate part about this is that most quick-fix diets, which promise you the world in a matter of a few days, are nothing more than ineffective hoaxes – many of which can leave you with even more complications and poorer fitness levels than you first started out. And so, if you have been shuffling to and fro between the hugely disparate eating patterns to melt away your body fat, here are a few things to watch out for, which are also dead giveaways of a baseless dietary regime:
Myth 1: An all-protein diet, which eliminates all other food groups like carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables is healthy and effective.
One of the most popular "fad diets" which seemingly revolutionized the existing notions of a balanced, healthy way of eating, the low-carb diets have since gone on to be debunked by health professionals around the world. The reasons for this are many.
For starters, these diets claim that carbohydrates are the root cause of weight gain, and so, in order to lose weight, an individual would need to go as low as barely 20 grams of carbohydrates in a day. On the other hand, animal-sourced proteins like red-meat and whole-fat dairy are recommended as the base of your everyday diet. In a nutshell, these diets advise you to eat as much cheese, red meat, cream and butter as you like, but cut down on grains and most fruits and vegetables. However, whole-fat dairy and most red meats are potent sources of saturated fats – which in turn lay the foundation stone for heart disease.
A lot of the remarkable weight loss that these diets are credited with is nothing more than water-loss and so, as soon as you revert to your regular diet, those pounds bounce right back on. Also, the low fiber content of your meals puts you at a risk of developing diarrhea and muscle cramps. Too much protein in your diet can also lead to kidney disorders over a period of time, and even result in renal failure if not detected in time.
Myth 2: Techniques which claim that merely cutting down on all kinds of fat are the best way to accelerate weight loss and keep those unwanted pounds away.
The most common misconception that the Average Joe has about weight loss and a healthy diet is that fat, in any form and amount, is the biggest dietary villain to watch out for.
However, dietary fat does play a very important role in the healthy functioning of your body – protecting your vital organs, keeping your body insulated and also regulating the activity of your nervous system. And yet, at 9 calories per gram, fat is still a powerhouse of energy, which can briskly translate into unwanted flab when stored.
This dual nature of fats has lead nutritionists and medical experts to conclude that all fats are not created alike. Fats can loosely be classified into healthy and unhealthy fats, based on the effect they bring about on your heart and the cholesterol levels in your blood.
Based on this classification, the healthiest forms of fat include the following.
- Monounsaturated fats:
These fats are found in olive, peanut and canola oils, avocados and most nuts and are easily distinguishable by their tendency to solidify at room temperature.
- Polyunsaturated fats:
These fats stay liquid at room temperature and even when refrigerated, and can be found in vegetable oils like safflower, sunflower, corn and cottonseed oils.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are a form of polyunsaturated fats, which are most commonly found in fatty, cold water fish like salmon, mackerel and herring. Other sources include flaxseeds, flax oil, walnuts and soybean oil.
On the other hand, unhealthy fats are those which often take the credit for the notoriety associated with all kinds of dietary fats. It is these kinds of fat that you need to moderate and cut down on, to steer clear of heart ailments, obesity and elevated cholesterol.
- Saturated fats:
These fats are most often found in animal products like red meat, butter and whole milk. Other sources include coconut and palm oil, all of which are usually solid or waxy at room temperature.
- Trans fats:
Considered to be the most harmful of their kind, trans-fats are formed by artificially adding hydrogen to vegetable oils to increase their shelf-life. These fats also form the basis of most pre-packed convenience foods like cookies, crackers, cakes and fried treats like donuts and french fries. When checking for trans-fats on food labels, pay heed to the fact that the FDA does allow manufacturers to get away with listing 0 grams trans-fat, even when the product may contain up to 0.5 grams of trans-fat per serving.
And so, when checking for trans-fats, take a minute to read the complete list of ingredients instead of simply skimming through the exaggerated claims.
Myth 3: All fruit and vegetable diets which claim to fill your body with "negative calories" is a healthy way to lose weight.
While fruits and vegetables do have an enormous role to play in fortifying your body with valuable vitamins, minerals, and a host of other nutrients, there is a reason why nutrition experts insist on healthy carbohydrates and proteins forming the majority of your meals.
Your brain relies almost completely on the energy broken down from the carbohydrate content of your meals, while proteins play a very important role in the growth and repair of tissues and the healthy functioning of your immune system.
What's more, fruits and vegetables contain only a fraction of the total number of calories as compared to your regular meals, and so when you "shock your body" with this kind of a diet, you are also at a risk of developing heart rhythm abnormalities, and even premature death.
Myth 4: It's a good idea to choose a diet plan that requires you to replace most of your meals with mysterious herbal supplements.
Many over-the-counter herbal remedies contain substances like ephedra, which produces several life-threatening complications of its own. Also, remember that just because a product is "herbal" or "natural," it isn't necessarily safe or even effective. If you must try out a herbal remedy to lose those extra pounds, make sure to consult with your medical practitioner well in advance to eliminate the risk of any nasty surprises.
Myth 5: Skipping meals is an easy way to lose that extra fat.
This is one of the most misguided, and also the most widely prevalent misconceptions about weight loss. Your body works at its most efficient when it receives a steady stream of energy. Remember, even if you want to lose that spare tire nestled around your waist, you will still need to feed your body with some amount of energy to "kick start" your metabolism.
Decades of research have also revealed that individuals, who eat more often, are a lot fitter than their fewer, heavier meal-eating counterparts. The simple reason for this is that when you skip meals, you starve your body into a state of quasi-malnutrition. As a result, your brain slows down the process of converting food into energy, opting instead to store those extra calories as fat. While this response would be deemed as ideal if you were actually starving, it doesn't quite work to your advantage if you want to lose weight, because you may end up gaining more weight even as you continue to consume the same amounts of food.
Myth 6: Expensive, after-workout supplement formulas which claim to make your workouts twice as effective are a good value.
While the concept of a high carb, high protein post-workout meal has been scientifically proven to actually boost the results you're looking to achieve from your fitness regime, there's simply no reason why you can't replace all those fancy shakes, juices and what-have-you, with a homemade blend of your own.
The reasoning behind a post workout meal is that it needs to be high in fast-digesting protein, high in complex carbohydrates and low in fat. However, just because you know that lean meat like chicken, turkey, and egg whites are great sources of protein, they still aren't quite the type you would want to load your body with after a workout.
The moot point here is that your body needs fast-acting protein which it can instantly use, and by the time your body finishes digesting whole high-protein foods, your body is able to access the protein long after the purpose you ate those foods for. The easiest and most effective post-workout drink is a quick whey protein shake, which you can rustle up at home in a matter of minutes. For fast-acting carbs, add a banana and voila! You have a complete, balanced post-workout meal that helps build muscle even after you're through with your workout!
As the adage goes, when it comes to your physical well-being, you are what you eat. Planning a healthy, wholesome and effective diet is not as arduous and time consuming as it sounds. When choosing your meal alternatives, remember that too much, or too little, of anything is bound to adversely affect your body.
Also, always pay attention to the fact that a severely strict and restrictive program will tend to frustrate and disillusion you...especially if all it asks you to eat is foods you dislike the most!
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