As a celebrity fitness and nutrition expert for nearly three decades, myth busting has become a major part of my job. You know, the myths nearly everyone considers nutrition gospel, even if they’ve stolen our health and made us fatter?
For years, savvy marketing and misinformation have made the quest for great health and weight loss pretty darn confusing.
I compiled seven biggies and here they are, the most common myths getting in the way of weight loss:
1. Slow and steady wins the race.
To become lean and healthy you need to slowly lose weight, right? Well, a few recent studies turned that theory on its head. One 18-month study that found folks who lost fat quickly kept it off better and weren’t as likely to rebound.
Getting results quickly keeps you motivated and stay the course. You can lose fat fast and safely combining lean, clean protein, healthy fats, loads of leafy and cruciferous veggies, and slow-release high-fiber starches.
2. Grazing all the time helps you lose weight.
Every time you eat, you raise your insulin levels. Snacking and mini-meals keep insulin levels elevated and the fat-burning doors locked.
Taking a food break between meals encourages your body to reach into those fat stores to burn what you’ve already got. Plus, be honest, you’re not snacking or mini-mealing on wild salmon or spinach. You’re reaching for the 100-calorie snack packs and low-calorie frozen entrees that are often loaded with sugar and empty carbs, leaving you hungry a few hours later.
I want you to space your meal four to six hours apart. Adding fiber, fat, and protein to your meals will help keep you full longer, as will having more water between meals.
3. Low-fat dairy keeps you lean.
Experts agree dietary fat isn’t the villain they once made it, yet you’d never know visiting your grocery store shelves filled with low-fat yogurt, fat-free ice cream, and skim milk. Most low-fat and fat-free dairy foods contain added sugar to make up for the horrendous taste. (I'm looking at you, fat-free fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt.)
4. Everything in moderation.
This ridiculous cliché refuses to stop! Over time, moderation makes people overweight. It gives them license to eat things that they shouldn’t eat. Moderation creates a slippery slope, sets you up for cravings, creates or exacerbates food intolerances, and fails to account for the potential long-term damage certain foods can do.
5. Soy is a health food.
Visit your local health food store and you’ll find a wide array of soy burgers, soy ice cream, and all sorts of other soy-based foods touted as healthy. Most soy is genetically modified (GMO), sprayed with pesticides, and spun in aluminum casks.
Soy has been linked to impaired thyroid function, reproductive disorders, cognitive decline, digestive problems, and lower sperm count. In evolutionary terms, it’s relatively new to our food supply, so many people respond to it as an allergen. Some “health” food, eh?
6. Agave is a healthy sweetener.
Most agave is simply fructose syrup with anywhere from 55% to 90% fructose. That actually makes agave higher — sometimes way higher — in fructose than high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Among its countless problems, excessive fructose creates insulin resistance, significantly raises triglycerides, contributes to non-alcoholic fatty-liver disease, raises blood pressure, elevates uric acid (leading to gout), and triggers gut problems.
7. A calorie is a calorie.
To see food merely as calories vastly under-simplifies it. Food is information, and different nutrients have different physiological effects and distinct roles within your body. Let’s say I give you 500 calories of wild-caught salmon and spinach or 500 calories of fettuccine Alfredo. Which do you think will satiate you and help you burn fat? Everyone’s going to put their bet on the salmon and spinach.
What’s your number-one drives-me-nuts nutrition myth that refuses to go away? Share your thoughts below.