The American society of this present age revolves largely around consumerism; the level of competition among manufacturing, retail, and other companies shape our lives and thinking a great deal. And one of those industries that use this system to their advantage is the food industry – albeit to our detriment. The kinds of policies and adverts they propagate, trying to tell us what to eat and what not, what is healthy or not, has led to many myths as regards obesity, weight loss, and other associated matters; and we, the consumers are left even more confused.
Below are the 5 most common myths about dieting; these we have inherited from our culture and set to pass them down to the next generation.
- Fasting or diet crashing is excellent to lose weight.
There couldn’t have been a bigger fallacy than this. The attempt to lose weight through this method is even far more unfavorable to the body. Though this method may work in the short term, the effects it causes to the body in the long term would be counterproductive. Experience has shown that the loss of lean muscle greatly reduces the intake of calories needed for daily survival, making weight gain very difficult even after the dieting period is over. This is not only unhealthy, it is also dangerous to the overall wellbeing of the fellow. It is far better to try out dieting methods that are long-term focused than this ‘short cut.’
- Eating late at night increases weight considerably.
This myth is also very common and most people believe in it because it is what our parents have been telling us while growing up. On the contrary, eating heavy meals in the night or in the morning would lead to the same result. It is not necessarily when you eat that matters, but the volume of food (and in extension, calories) that truly matters. Studies have shown that the total volume one consumes in a 24 hours period whether in small bits or one large single meal would more or less result in the same outcome. Be that as it may, it is advisable to eat normally during the day than skip meals and eat a very large quantity at night. This not only aids digestion, it helps the body metabolism to function more properly.
- The 3,500 calories-equals-one-pound magic weight loss myth.
This is one of the most talked about dieting options. Most people believe that losing 3,500 calories would automatically result in losing a pound of weight. This is not totally true. Even though the formula might seem to be correct in the first 10-12 days of dieting, subsequent days would show that it is actually the fluid levels that were dropping all the while, and cutting back on food/calories intake just as the first few days would not automatically reduce the same mass.
In other words, losing 3,500 calories is not necessarily equal to losing one pound of weight. The 3,500 calories-equals-one-pound theory is a result of research done in the 50’s. However, new evidence from further research conducted in the 70’s suggest – more sensibly, that body fat, height, sex, and age must also be taken into account for that formula to be anywhere credible. This makes more sense even though not 100% accurate.
- Eating as much as one wants and exercising would not add weight.
Exercising is a great way to burn off calories and keep the body in perfect shape; however, the continuous consumption of the same or more quantity of food and engaging in exercises at the same time would not make any difference. In fact, the body would work on the volume of nutrients and calories it finds in the body to make you bigger during exercises. The correct way is to cut down on food intake (and in extension, calories), and increase the exercises even more.
This way, the body would have lesser calories to burn, and nothing left in excess to utilize for weight gain even after the exercise routine. More importantly, consume only healthy foods that would be beneficial to the exercise efforts and drastically cut down on high calorie foods.
- Carbohydrates enhance weight gain.
It is true that some carbs,like white flour, contain sugars and other substances that may contribute to weight gain; but not all carbs are bad. On the contrary, low-carb diets are very good and essential for energy and a host of other nutrients. Carbs rich in fiber are good for easy bowel movements; brown rice, whole grains, and their likes are also excellent for the body without necessarily adding unwanted weight.
My advice: seek information, and don’t be carried away by the myriad of myths flying across our society; else your confusion might even lead you astray.