8 Myths & Truths Of Dieting

Here’s a statistic for you to ponder. According to the latest national figures, well over 55% of Britains are now considered overweight or obese compared with 33% in the 1980s. Yet another scary statistic: childhood obesity has rocketed by an incredible 100% between the early 1980s and the present day. Don't believe me? Just take a look at your neighbour’s children -- or even your own -- and instantly you will notice a bit of plumpness around their girth.

So why all these frightening facts? Are we not in an age where more and more people are becoming increasingly health conscious? This is true. However, many of us still have many misconceptions about how to stay healthy, especially when it comes to dieting. Misconceptions which have developed from hearsay and half-truths I’m afraid - a veritable mythology of dieting pitfalls.

The fact is that these diet myths are so numerous that I have chosen to look at the only the most common ones. My aim in exposing these errors of advice? To ensure that you do not fall into their trap; to ensure that if you are trying to lose weight for a more healthy you, that you are able to succeed in your endeavours.

If however you are one of the 80% of women or 70% of men who have tried to diet recently and come unstuck, here’s also your chance to find out why you've been gaining weight instead of losing it.

Myth no. 1

Diet drugs are a great way to start losing weight

False. Certain diet drugs have been approved and hold a license in Britain for people who have medically significant obesity -- those who are 30% or more over a healthy weight or those who have obesity-related diseases, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. Obesity medications, such as Zobutamine (which works on brain chemicals to control appetite), and Xenical (a drug which blocks fat from being absorbed by the body), should only be used in conjunction with an attempt to change eating and lifestyle behaviours. Always remember overweight is in the majority of cases a chronic condition and as such cannot be effectively treated with short-term therapy alone.

Myth No. 2

Diet I can eat eggs again without getting fat

True. Eggs are good for you. Research shows that the major dietary culprit in heart disease is saturated fat, and eggs are low in this type of fat. Eggs are also relatively low in calories (about 75 calories if hardboiled and 110 calories if scrambled in one teaspoon of butter or oil). Furthermore eggs are packed to bursting with essential nutrients and wonderful antioxidants. The British medical fraternity recently changed its dietary recommendations to say that an egg a day is okay. The key here is to substitute eggs and bacon with fruits and bread, and use light vegetable oil instead of margarine or butter to cook the eggs.

Myth No. 3

Diet Removing all fat from your diet will help you to lose weight:

False. Certainly, eating such foods as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and skimmed milk, which provide lots of volume and relatively few calories, might do the trick. But many processed fat-free and low-fat foods, such as cookies and frozen desserts, are very high in calories. You can also gain pounds if you consume huge quantities of low-fat, carbohydrate-rich foods like pasta and bread. Always consider portion size and number of calories, because these things count.

Myth No. 4

Diet Extra protein will promote muscle growth

False. Protein does have important roles in the body -- building and maintaining muscles, making blood cells, synthesizing hormones and enzymes, and strengthening the cells of the immune system. However, excess amounts of it can be stored as fat, in just the same way as excess carbohydrates and fat. What we are talking here is the difference between quantity and quality. General rule: Any calorie-containing nutrient can be stored as fat if too much is eaten. But the best way to build muscles is to do strength training, coupled with eating sufficient calories, including calories from protein.

Myth No. 5

Diet Just working out 2 to 3 times a week for 30 minutes will make you lose weight

False. Any amount of activity is better than none at all. That is not to say that exercise is useless; it does burn calories and is really helpful for both losing and maintaining weight. But while moderate exercise conveys health benefits, the effect on weight loss is modest. Let us put this completely into perspective; if you walked at a moderate pace (about three miles an hour) for 30 minutes, 4 days of the week, you would walk a total of six miles in a week. Each mile walked burns about 100 calories. So for the week, you would have used an additional 600 calories. That 600 calories translates to less than a quarter of a pound of weight-loss on the scale -- provided you've kept your food intake steady that is. Eat a little more (after all, you're exercising and of course, it won’t matter will it?), and the loss is further and significantly reduced. If you want to use exercise as a primary strategy for weight loss, you need to do more than this. Your best bet is to combine exercise with a diet that is lower in calories.

Myth No. 6

Diet Walking is a great way to lose weight

True. Like other physical activities, walking burns calories and can help weight loss. It's best to take a brisk walk, not a stroll. And the longer you walk, the more calories you burn. Aim for 10,000 steps a day (about five miles). If every mile you walk burns roughly 100 calories, then you'll be burning up 500 calories a day through just walking alone. Do that every day and you've burned up 3,500 calories, or one pound, in a week. And what do all those pounds make over a period of time? Quite a significant amount of weight loss.

Myth No.7

Diet-I can eat fatty foods when dieting

True. This is more a game of psychology than physiology. If you give up all your favorite foods, then they'll become those forbidden delights and ultimately you could end up bingeing on them. Instead of completely denying yourself, you need to train yourself to eat these particular favourites in moderation. For instance, if you love chocolate only buy those bars which are prepared as segments. Allow yourself a segment or two at a time. Then wrap up the remainder and return it to the relative safety of your kitchen larder.

Myth No.8

Diet Vitamin supplements are vital in order to lose weight

False. Supplements do not work miracles, nor do they neutralize the impact of a high-fat, low-fibre diet consisting of highly processed foods. Never rely on supplements as a nutritional shortcut. You can derive the same amount of vitamins from eating fruits and vegetables (which are also loaded with fibre, antioxidants and other nutrients that you will not receive in a pill). However, one caveat, if you typically eat less than 1,500 calories per day (and those on a calorie-controlled diet most probably will be), then you should strongly consider taking a multivitamin-mineral supplement -if only to ensure you receive the recommended daily vitamin and nutrient intake.

Now that you know some of the myths and facts, how do you begin changing your overall eating pattern in order to successfully lose weight? The simple answer is to stop focusing on the dieting, which for most of us is shear purgatory, and to think about adopting a better lifestyle instead. The latter is much more fun and far more rewarding.

So, make a start by first throwing out all that junk food in your kitchen cupboards, and replacing it with far more nutritious snacks such as fruits, vegetables and nuts.

Then make sure to increase your level of activity each day. For example, you can park your car at the end of the lot and walk an extra hundred meters to the entrance of the mall. Or take the stairs instead of the escalator. Small steps such as these will add up to pounds shed.

Remember to quit smoking, gambling, bingeing, and any other addictive behavior (all of which do you far more harm than any good anyway). Then start following a healthy meal plan for the whole week and stick to it. Include some of your favorites in your meals such as pasta and steak, but watch the portions.

And finally, drink plenty of water each day. This helps to regulate your metabolism and strengthen your immune system, in addition to satisfying your appetite. When you drink more water, you will feel less hungry.

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