Busted! 21 Food Myths That DON’T Help With Weight Loss


Your diet strategy might be helpful for your weight loss goals, but is it grounded in fact? Some food superstitions are more damaging than others. 

For instance, your body could actually benefit if you eliminate late night meals, but loading up on fat and cutting out carbs might have adverse long term effects. When you’re losing weight, food superstitions may not be a priority. Check out the shocking truth behind some of the craziest food superstitions.

1. Margarine As A Better Alternative

The margarine versus butter debate is an ancient one. Margarine broke on the scene about the time when doctors spoke out against saturated fats and their dangers. Saturated fats, found in butter, are associated with an increased risk of heart disease.

In response, consumers switched to margarine, which is lower in saturated fats. The problem is that the margarine brands in your favorite grocery store are more likely to contain hydrogenated (trans) fat and those are not good for you – not for your health nor for your figure.

In fact, some experts have argued recently that, if you can’t live without a breakfast spread, better make it butter. Supposedly it is less harmful for your overall health. Try not to overdo it, of course. Replacing butter with margarine is not an optimal weight loss solution. To lose weight and maintain your health, avoid saturated and trans fat as much as possible.


2. Carbohydrates Make You Put On Weight

The introduction of the Atkins diet 30 years ago has changed the way people view carbs. Dr. Atkins sold millions of copies of his book, The Diet Revolution, and his advocates eat low carb, high protein diets. Ever since then, people have just taken for granted that, if you want to lose weight, you have to cut carbs out of your diet. While you will lose weight on low carb diets, eliminating whole food groups and filling up on specific foods is harmful to your health.

Whole grains, such as brown rice and wholemeal breads, go hand in hand with good health. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, hormones, healthy fat, plant enzymes, and much needed carbs. Carbohydrates provide fuel for your body.

They’re essential for providing maximum energy, concentration, stamina and fluid balance within your body. So when it comes to carbs and weight loss, it’s more about quality than quantity.


3. Eating Late Makes You Fat

Eat your last meal 2-3 hours before bedtime. There’s no merit to this myth although some people are convinced that late night eating leads to weight gain. The truth is that your body doesn’t process food any differently at night. But if you’re one to overeat and fill up on high-calorie foods, you’ll gain weight. Some people are too busy to eat a proper meal during the day and eat more than they should late in the evening.

However, it’s not the time you eat, but rather the type of foods and the quantity you eat. Your metabolism doesn’t care what time you have your meals, so don’t be in such a hurry to have your meal before the clock strikes eight.

Do, however, bear in mind that not all foods will sit well with you before bedtime. Fatty, sugary foods and food items that generally cause indigestion or heartburn are not the best choice for your midnight snack, simply because you won’t be able to sleep all that well.


4. Some Foods Burn Fat

There is a widespread belief among diet enthusiasts that there are certain foods that actually burn fat and calories for you. Some of the foods believed to possess that ability include grapefruit, cabbage and celery. Of course that the notion of there being a food that not only doesn’t make you fat but actually makes you lose weight is absolutely amazing. What could be better than losing weight by eating? 

However, the truth is that no food is able to burn the fat for you. Your body needs to do that on its own. To be fair, foods like grapefruit may sometimes take more time to digest or require an extra effort from the body, which might burn some extra calories, but that effect is really not remarkable enough to lead to a noticeable weight loss. 

On the other hand, foods that contain caffeine may speed up your metabolism on short-term basis, but that’s a whole different story.


5. Skip Meals To Lose Weight

The common logic implies that if you want to lose weight, you simply need to eat less. One way to achieve that is to cut a meal out of your day, or so it may seem. This, however, is a myth. It has been proven several times that people who eat a nice, hearty breakfast in the morning tend to weigh less than those who skip breakfast and eat fewer meals per day. It is not completely clear why is this the case.

People who eat breakfast tend to get less hungry throughout the day because they have more energy from their first meal and they usually eat more frequent but less abundant meals throughout the day.

Those who skip breakfast, on the other hand, usually eat two or three very big meals and they tend to overeat, which, naturally, leads to obesity.And it is not just breakfast – there is no point in skipping any meal of the day. Eat as many meals as you wish, as long as they are not too big.


6. Drinking Lots Of Water Aids Weight Loss

This particular myth is based on the notion that drinking a lot of water will somehow make you less hungry. This might seem logical at first, but if you think about it, it doesn’t make that much sense at all. Water is an important nutrient but water alone could never be enough to sustain life. Similarly, drinking a gallon of water will not be enough to keep you from being hungry. Drinking a lot of water may make you feel full but only for a moment.

After that, you’ll be hungry again and maybe even more than before. The only way drinking tons of water will help you lose weight is through exercise you’ll get by constantly running in and out of the bathroom.

It will also leave little time for you to eat. Seriously, however, the idea that water is a magical aid in weight loss is as much of a myth as the famous “eight glasses a day.”


7. Snacking Leads To Obesity

For most people, snacks are equivalent to weight gain. The reason for this notion is that when we say “snacks,” we instantly think of processed food that comes in bags and wraps and that is usually not very healthy or good for weight loss. The thing with snacks is that, if you keep them healthy and eat them in reasonable amounts, they will not make you fat.

There are tons of healthy snacks you could eat between meals or when you crave a little something. Fruit and veggies make ideal snacks. Foods high in fiber too. Complex carbs found in wholegrain cereals, for example, make another good snack for those trying to lose some weight.

Another advantage of healthy snacks is that they help you get through that period between two meals when you are most likely to think about food, weight and diets. They will also keep you from being really hungry, which is good because when the next meal comes, you won’t overeat.


8. Potatoes Make You Fat

This couldn’t be farther from true. There was once a common belief among nutritionists and doctors that eating foods that are high in carbohydrates. Today we know that there is no point in cutting out all carbs if you want to lose weight, you just have to think it through and take them in a certain way and in certain amounts. The same goes for potatoes.

Potatoes were for a long time falsely accused of being useless in terms of nutritional value. These versatile veggies are very healthy. They are packed with vitamins and minerals and contain dietary fiber. There is absolutely no need to cut potatoes from your diet if you are looking to lose some pounds.

However, you should rethink the way you eat these vegetables. Of course you’ll want to avoid French fries and other forms of fried potatoes, as well as chips. And don’t douse them in mayo!


9. Fruit-Only Breakfast For Losing Weight

Many people believe that if you want to lose weight you need to make all your meals extra light, including breakfast, and that in the morning you should only eat fruit and not much else. There is no evidence, however, that eating fruit alone for breakfast will make you lose weight.

Most fruits are packed with vitamins and dietary fiver, but they are not among the best sources of carbohydrates. And you do need carbs after a whole night of not eating anything. You need something to pick up your energy levels and start your day, and for that, fruit is probably not the best choice.

Of course, you can and should add fruits to your breakfast, just make sure there are some carbs in there too, such as wholegrain cereals and bread, muffins and such. For example, you could eat cereals with some berries or pancakes with bananas.


10. Single Food Diets Work

Recently there has been a lot of talk about these single-food diets, which are based on the idea that there are certain types of food that should never be eaten together. For example, the proponents of these diets say that you shouldn’t eat carbohydrates (bread, pasta) with protein (meat, fish, eggs), supposedly because your body isn’t able to break them down at the same time.

These diets list food items that should never be combined, leaving a very small chance of any actual enjoyment of meals. This has been proven to be false. The human body is perfectly capable of tackling different nutrients at the same time, thanks mainly to the digestive enzymes.

Besides, only a few foods are just one type – just carbs or just protein. Most of the things we eat are a combination, which makes this kind of diets illogical and therefore useless.


11. Full-Fat Dairy Makes You Fat

The recommendation to keep your dairy products low-fat or no-fat has been part of many dietary guidelines for quite a long time. However, more and more recent studies have actually shown an inverse association of full-fat dairy with obesity, meaning that it does not at all mean that consuming full-fat dairy will make you obese.

The reason behind this prejudice towards full-fat dairy products is that such products supposedly contain more calories and also because of the dreaded saturated fats they contain. However, the actual difference in calories between no- or low-fat dairy and full-fat dairy is less than 2%, which means it is pretty much insignificant unless you are consuming gallons of it per day.

As with most things, moderation is the key when it comes to dairy. Milk and dairy products are a necessary part of a healthy diet, as long as you consume it in moderate amounts and complement it with other important nutrients.


12. All Calories Are Equal

For many people, a calorie is a calorie, no matter where it comes from. When it comes to weight loss, whether you eat 500 calories from carrots or from a cake should be the same, right? Wrong.
Different foods contain different nutrients and they are not digested the same way either.

The idea that all calories get burnt or deposited equally is false and no one should base their diet on it. Some foods require a bit more effort to eat and digest than the others. For example, fruits and veggies that require more chewing and are generally harder are believed to burn more calories.

The same goes for lean meats and whole grain foods. On the other hand, soft, processed and easy to eat foods require less effort from the body and therefore use up less calories. So, if you are on a diet, don’t think that eating a small piece of cake is in any way similar to eating an equivalent amount of calories from a stick of celery!


13. Avoid Red Meat To Lose Weight

People who want to lose weight usually make the mistake of cutting out red meat altogether. They do so because it is generally believed that red mean is unhealthy and that it leads to obesity. All kind of meat, but especially lean meat, is a great source of protein, iron, zinc and many other nutrients.

Because of this, meat should not be avoided in weight loss diets – it is okay to want to lose weight, but you still have to take care of your health! Red meat probably has the bad rep because it contains some amounts of cholesterol and saturated fats. However, through portion control and by selecting nice, lean pieces of meat, you can safely include red meat into your diet.

Best kinds of red meat for people looking to shed an extra pound include tenderloin, flank steak, sirloin tip, beef round steak and extra lean ground beef. These are lower in fat but still rich in other valuable nutrients.


14. All Fat Is Bad

One of the first things people cut from their diet when they want to shed a few pounds is fat. Most people believe that fat is the primary culprit for obesity, and, to a certain extent, they are right. However, fat alone is in no way responsible for extra weight.

Not just that fat is not as dangerous as once believed but it is also necessary for the proper functioning of the human body. In fact, experts recommend that between 25% and 30% of your daily calorie intake come from fat. However, it should be noted that not all kinds of fat are equally good or bad for you.

The best kind of fat are monounsaturated fats found in plants such as olives, avocados and nuts. These fats should be included into every diet, especially if they come from unrefined sources, such as extra virgin oils.


15. Fad Diets Have Long-Term Effects

Fad diets have always be around and, unfortunately, they will probably be around forever, simply because they offer seemingly logical yet simple solutions and promise incredibly fast and satisfying results.

The problem with such diets, through which you are supposed to shed a ridiculous amount of weight in no time, is not only they offer only a momentary fix, but they also may harm your health. For example, a diet that is based on just one food item, such as cabbage soup, may harm your health by not providing the vital nutrients you need.

Also, while you may even lose a few pounds while on a fad diet, as soon as you finish (and you will soon, not just because fad diets are exhausting but also because many of them are meant to last several weeks or months) you will start gaining weight all over again, maybe even more.


16. Cutting All Starches Reduces Weight

Starches are complex carbohydrates that play an important role in our body and can be found in many common food items. People on a diet often tend to cut starches altogether, fearing they might be fattening. This is a common myth and the truth is that there is no reason to avoid starches – you just have to rethink the way you consume them.

Starches are found in wheat products like bread and pasta, in rice, potatoes, beans, some fruits and vegetables. These food items alone are in no way fattening. The problem is that people often combine them with high-fat foods, such as mayonnaise, cream and butter, or eat them fried or baked in oil.

The best way to handle starches is to always go for the whole grain cereals, wheat and flour and to avoid high-fat toppings for other starchy foods. That way you will get all the complex carbs you need and avoid getting fatter.


17. Low Or No Fat Means No Calories

People generally assume that if something has no fat it automatically means it has no calories either, or at least much less calories than the full-fat version of the same food item. While it is often true that low- or no-fat foods tend to have fewer calories, there are still so many processed low- and no-fat foods that contain just as much, or even more calories than those with the full fat content.

This is because processed foods contain added sugars, starches and flour to enhance the flavor once the fat has been removed. These additives add calories, and a significant amount of them, too.

So if you are on a diet, don’t assume that eating foods with low or no fats will keep you safe from excessive calories. Make sure to always read the label of the packaged and processed foods and to look for hidden sugars and carbs.


18. Fast Foods Are An Absolute No-No While Dieting

If you are one of those people who can never go on a diet because they can’t live without their fast food, here are some good news for you. You can, in fact, enjoy all the foods you crave or love, as long as you follow certain guidelines and make sure not to overdo it.

For instance, you can eat in your favorite fast food restaurant and enjoy some of your favorite meals but avoid jumbo or super-size meals and try drinking water or orange juice instead of soda. Or, choose salsa as a topping instead of cheese or cream, and opt for salad instead of fries.

Speaking of fries and fried chicken, try to avoid them or only have small portions of them every now and then. As long as you keep it sensible and occasional, there is no need to cut fast food completely from your life.


19. Going Vegetarian Leads To Weight Loss

This is one of the biggest food myths out there. We tend to assume that vegetarians only eat greens, fresh fruit, seeds and nuts. This is not even true for vegans, let alone foe vegetarians, who don’t eat meat and fish but do eat dairy products and eggs.

Many vegetarians make a big dietary mistake and don’t invest any effort in the way they eat. When they cut meat out, they simply start eating more bread, pasta, processed foods and cheese in order to make up for the deliciousness they’ve forsaken. Because of this, many vegetarians actually gain a lot of weight. A healthy vegetarian lifestyle requires some effort.

Naturally, it’s way easier to just order some cheese pizza than to cook an actual meal with quinoa and tofu. So don’t think for a second that going vegetarian is some kind of magic trick for weight loss.


20. Nuts Are Fatty And Should Be Avoided

As mentioned earlier, sometimes people think that in order to lose weight they need to cut all the fat from their diet. Unfortunately, this often includes fats that are now believed to be healthy and extremely useful for the proper functioning of the human body. Such fats can be found in nuts like almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts and others.

These nuts are very healthy. They contain both monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats. In addition, they are rich in protein and in Omega fatty acids. Avoiding these beneficial fats would actually be pretty irresponsible towards one’s own health.

And for those who are only interested in losing weight – the amount of fat in a standard portion of nuts is too low for it to count as a serious threat for the weight or to interfere with any kind of weight loss diet. You only need to eat a small amount of nuts to get their amazing beneficial effects so whatever diet you are on, you can rest assured the handful of nuts won’t hinder your efforts.


21. Diet Means Resisting All Cravings

The mere word “diet” for most people causes an unpleasant sense of frustration, hardship and sacrifice. Diets usually mean we don’t get to eat almost anything we enjoy and instead eat unsavory, bland foods in small quantities. For some diets this may be true but those diets are not efficient anyway.

Many struggle with obesity because they don’t feel capable of saying “no” to their favorite treats or being able to resist those persistent cravings. The good news is, that’s not really necessary. You can eat healthy and be on a diet and still satisfy your food cravings every now and then. The key is, as always, moderation and careful consideration of what certain foods contain and what effect they have.

If you are dieting and craving something sweet – by all means, grab a piece of chocolate! It’s good for you and it will help you make it through the diet. The same goes for pretty much anything. Just don’t eat too much of it and maybe try not to douse it in gallons of mayo and ranch!

Continue Reading

From Around The Web

Popular on Diet.st