What we should eat has never been a straightforward matter. There’s always been controversy in the field of nutrition – as there should be. After all, nutrition science is still a science, and there’s bound to be a debate. But some myths just don’t want to die, even though they’re demonstrably false. In this post, we’re going to bust some of the biggest diet myths to which women are subjected. Let’s get started.
You Shouldn’t Eat After 7 p.m.
What’s going on with this advice? Well, the theory is that women shouldn’t eat after seven p.m. because they won’t have a chance to burn off what they’ve eaten. The calories that they eat will just get added to their waist overnight. But this isn’t really how it works. For starters, it’s worth remembering that calories are just a measure of energy. And your body uses energy all the time, whether you’re awake or sleeping. What’s more, your body actually uses calories in the same way no matter what the time of day.
If you happen to eat less during the day, you’ll dip into your stores of energy. You’ll start calling on your fat reserves and use this to power your body. Then, if you eat late at night, you’ll restock your reserves overnight.
What matters more is the overall number of calories eaten over, say, a week. It’s the total amount of energy you are eating that’s the kicker, not when it is eaten.
The advice probably came from the fact that a lot of overweight people tend to eat throughout the day anyway. If you’re somebody who struggles to control their appetite, it might be worth restricting when you eat to certain hours. But as for the idea that you’ll gain weight, just because you eat after 7 p.m – it’s a myth.
You Can Only Get Food Poisoning From Animal Food
There doesn’t seem to be a week that goes by without another food hygiene scare. More often than not, it involves some type of animal food. And surprisingly, tens of thousands of people die from food poisoning every year.
We’re trained from an early age to treat meat like it’s poisonous. But we’re not trained to do the same with plants. The myth is that you can’t get food poisoning from plants. But the truth is rather different.
Recently, a worrying story on www.UnsafeFoods.com emerged about listeria in peas. Right now, big food processing companies are having to recall hundreds of products from store shelves. And it’s not the first time that plants have been at the centre of a food scare. Only a few years ago, we saw the same thing with sprouts and sprouting grains. Next time you buy peas from the store, watch out.
Eating Small Amounts Regularly Boosts Your Metabolism
This idea has been floating around in fitness circles for well over a decade now. The idea is that by eating regularly, you boost your metabolism. The higher your metabolism, the slimmer you’ll be. Or so the logic goes.
It all sounds so good in theory, but there doesn’t seem to be any truth to it. Studies on women’s metabolism have revealed that when and how much you eat doesn’t really have an effect. Your body burns energy just like it always does, independent of how much or when you eat. Eating little and often might seem like a good idea, but boosting the amount of energy you burn just existing seems impossible.
Women also worry that if they don’t eat for a long time, they’ll start burning away their muscles or their metabolism will go down. But again, this doesn’t appear to be true. The body only starts reducing the number of calories it burns when people are literally starving. So as long as you are eating something, you’re unlikely to destroy your metabolism.
If you want to increase the number of calories you burn at rest, the best thing to do is build muscle. Just sitting there, muscle burns more energy than other body tissue. And so you’ll end up burning more calories overall.
Grains Make You Fat
The idea behind this one all comes back to insulin and Robert Atkins. Atkins’ idea was that when you eat grains, you boost insulin. And when you boost insulin, you boost the very hormone that causes your body to store more fat.
But the evidence doesn’t bear this sort of thing out. Or at least, not for the vast majority of women. The truth is that people have been eating grains for thousands of years. And for all that time, there was neither obesity nor diabetes. You could say that our bodies are wonderfully adapted to eating grains. Even now, in rural Africa, people get 60 percent of their calories from thick, grainy porridge. And they’re some of the slimmest people in the world.
Where grains go wrong is when they’re refined. Then you start getting problems. But refined grains, like white pasta and white bread, are a different animal. They aren’t really grains at all. They’re a sort of pseudo-food, missing key elements we evolved eating. Essentially, it’s because of refined carbs that carbs, in general, have gotten a bad rap. But grains themselves, though full of carbs, don’t make you fat.
Coffee Helps You Lose Weight
When we’re highly caffeinated, we feel energetic. So it’s not hard to see why people associate coffee with doing more activity. The theory is that coffee both boosts metabolism and suppresses appetite. But is any of that true?
In the short term, maybe. There is some evidence that coffee may boost energy burning slightly. But over the long run, probably not. That’s because, like most drugs, you end up needing more to get the same buzz. When you start drinking coffee, you feel alert all the time. But six months on, you’re on ten cups a day, and nothing’s happening. What’s more, you start feeling anxious and struggle to sleep.
What’s more, very few people just drink coffee black. They usually add a few extras to make it taste better. Often coffees are sugary or full of cream. And it’s these coffees that can really add on weight, rather than take it off. Some cups of coffee can have as many calories as a sandwich, all of them bad.
Dieting Is The Best Way To Lose Weight
We humans like to think that we have direct control over our own destiny. It’s only natural. And so many of us imagine that all we need to do to lose weight is go on a diet. The logic of this seems really simple and intuitive. All we have to do to lose weight is reduce calories. And the way to do this is to reduce the amount we eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Simple.
Unfortunately, that’s just not how our bodies work. Ever since the first “reducing diets” in the 1950s it’s been clear that diets don’t work for the vast majority of women. Most people who lose weight, often end up putting on the weight they lost and more. The statistics on this are staggering. Only about 2 percent of people who go on diets keep the weight off for more than five years. So it seems like us women are stuck being fat forever. Or are we?
Well, the real solution to weight loss doesn’t seem to be going on a diet at all. Rather, the key is to gradually change our diet over to something more like what people ate in the past. A diet heavy on whole grains and vegetables and light on meat and sugar seems to be the way to go. Weight gain is a gradual process and so too is weight loss. So don’t expect results in days or weeks. Over the months, lifestyle changes add up. And you can end up losing significant amounts of weight, just as a byproduct.
Eating Fat Will Make You Fat
Here’s the theory. Each gram of carbohydrate and protein contain four calories. But each gram of fat contains nine. So to lose weight, women need to cut out the fat and swap it for the carbs and the protein.
But the truth of the matter is quite different. When people are put on high-fat diets, they tend to lose weight about as fast as people put on high-carb diets. So it’s not the fat itself that necessarily makes you fat. What does appear to make people fat is the mixture of fat with carbohydrates. Putting the two together is a delight for the senses, but no good for our weight. We tend to think of chocolate, cakes and cookies being mostly sugar. But the truth is that 40 to 50 percent of their calories come from fat.
It’s worth mentioning that when it comes to fat, we’re not just interested in weight loss either. We’re interested in our overall health too. High-fat diets are often touted as great for weight loss. But there’s a lot of evidence they’re not good for our health. So when it comes to diet decision, it’s best to avoid the myths and just stick with the facts.