Top 4 Diet Myths Debunked!

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Diet Myths DebunkedHow many of you are guilty of using Google to find simple answers to quite complex questions?No need to feel ashamed. Many people are very quick to get an easy answer and often fail to check the source. It is very difficult to come across concrete, research-based answers to many of your nutrition questions.

It seems that everyone is a nutrition expert and it is hard to decipher which information you can trust. If you are looking to find solutions to common diet myths, read on to get the best answers and explanations for the top four common myths:

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Diet Myth #1: If You Are Looking to Lose Weight Then Avoid Eating Carbs

Many people have gotten caught up with low carb diets in order to lose weight. Meaning, they cut out foods such as bread, pasta, cereal, rice, fruit, milk, yogurt, starchy vegetables (e.g. potatoes) and sugary foods (i.e. cookies, candies, and jam). Your body needs carbs to ensure you are not missing out on key nutrients such as iron, calcium, vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, and magnesium. Carbs are also a great source of fiber, which reduces cholesterol, keeps you satiated, manages blood sugar levels, and maintains proper bowel functioning. Carbs are also necessary as an energy source and needed for proper brain functioning.

While studies have shown a low-carb diet can have short-term success, many people often gain back all the weight in the long-term. It can be very challenging to cut out all those foods for a lifetime. You are better off watching your portion sizes while eating a variety of carbs and including a balance of different food groups. For instance, incorporate lots of vegetables to get some energy, vitamins, minerals, and fiber! Just make sure that you pay attention to your overall calorie intake and engage in regular physical activity each day.

Myth #2: Eating Late at Night Will Lead to Weight Gain

It does not matter how late you eat. The timing of your intake is not the reason you are gaining weight. It is the excessive amount of calories that is causing the weight gain. Late night eating usually consists of high calorie snacks that contain lots of sugar and fat. Often times, it might also be excessive calories coming from alcoholic beverages.

If you are finding yourself indulging in copious amounts of food late in the evening, you need to ask yourself if you are truly hungry, or are you just bored, stressed, or tired? If you are still hungry, consider having your dinner a little later in the evening. If that is not the case, it could be that you might just be thirsty. Quench your thirst with a refreshing glass of cold water with a freshly squeezed lemon slice. You can also try having a low calorie, healthy snack such as a fruit, air-popped popcorn, or some cut-up veggies.

Myth #3: Supplements Can Help You Lose Weight and Make You Healthier

They are called supplements for a reason. Their purpose is to supplement the amount of vitamins or minerals you need and are unable to obtain through your diet. Many times the health claims of different nutrients such as increasing your zinc intake to improve your immunity against illness are true. However, you achieve that benefit by consuming zinc through foods such as seafood, meat, seeds, beans, and lentils.

Vitamins and minerals do not give you added energy or reduce stress. Often they are recommended to individuals with a restrictive diet such as vegans or vegetarians, pregnant women, the elderly, or people with medical conditions such as anemia or osteoporosis.

Taking a supplement to increase your vitamin or mineral level rarely increases any of its health benefits and may actually cause more harm due to toxicity. If you feel you are missing some key nutrients then speak to your doctor or dietitian to find out which supplements are right for you.

Myth #4: A Gluten-free Diet Should Be Recommended for Everyone

Gluten is a type of protein that is found in products made from wheat, barley, and rye. Individuals who have celiac disease or gluten-sensitivities are advised to avoid these grains, as their bodies can react to the gluten and cause adverse reactions leading to severe health consequences. Gluten-free grains that can be included in the diet are corn, rice, millet, and quinoa, to name a few.

The gluten-free diet has become a popular diet. Most people probably mistake it for a carb-free or a low-carb diet; however, many gluten-free products tend to be higher in carbs overall. More so, they are higher in calories and sugar, and lower in fiber, protein, and several other beneficial nutrients.

For those of you who do not suffer from either celiac disease or gluten-sensitivities, you are better off consuming a healthy diet that includes a variety of whole grain options.

Sources for today’s article:
Dietitians of Canada, “Get the real deal on your meal!” Nutrition Month Campaign Resource Manual for Dietitians, 2012; 1-43.
“Should I try a low carbohydrate diet to lose weight?” Dietitians of Canada web site; http://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Weight-Concerns/Should-I-try-a-low-carb-diet.aspx, last accessed December 20, 2015.
“Vitamins and minerals FAQs,” EatRight Ontario web site; http://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Frequently-Asked-Questions/Vitamins-and-Minerals-FAQs.aspx#.VneNc0orLIU, last accessed December 20, 2015.


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Leah Shainhouse, R.D.

About the Author, Browse Leah's Articles

Leah Shainhouse is a Registered Dietitian with the College of Dietitians of Ontario and a member of the Dietitians of Canada. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science, Honors, in Nutritional Sciences from the University of British Columbia and went on to complete her dietetic training and Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition at McGill University. Leah has a strong desire to help shape the lives of individuals through a healthy lifestyle. She enjoys working with people to help... Read Full Bio »