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Common Diet & Nutrition Myths

Dieting is no picnic, and the confusion caused by conflicting information from various sources can make it extremely frustrating. With so many supposed experts, popular diets, weight loss pills and other gimmicks pulling you in different directions, it can be hard to sort through to the truths. Arm yourself with the facts and avoid some of the most pervasive diet myths. Always talk with your doctor before making any changes to your diet.

Eating Late at Night Causes Weight Gain

The idea that late-night eating universally leads to weight gain is a common myth among dieters. According to the American Council on Exercise, it doesn’t matter what time you ingest calories. Weight gain occurs when you eat too many calories, during any part of the day. This myth may be pervasive because late-night snacking often involves mindless munching on calorie-dense junk food, which will undoubtedly sabotage any diet. If you find yourself grazing at night or feeling voraciously hungry, you might not be eating enough during the day. Try eating five to six small meals every three or four hours to avoid raiding the refrigerator at bedtime.

All Carbs Are Bad

Popular diets have unfairly given carbs a bad rep. It’s true that too many carbs will cause weight gain, but too much of any macronutrient will do that. Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of energy and provide fuel needed for brain function. However, they aren’t all created equal. Fresh produce and whole-grain sources such as oatmeal and whole wheat bread provide your body with vital nutrients and are an important part of any diet. You can reduce your carbohydrate intake to create a calorie deficit, but don’t eliminate them all completely. The carbs you should avoid altogether are the processed ones, like crackers, cookies and many cereals, that are packed with sugars and additives.

Skipping Meals Will Help You Lose Weight

When you combine exercise and moderate calorie-cutting, you can achieve a healthy weight loss of about one to two pounds per week. To lose one pound of fat, you have to create a 3,500 calorie deficit. A sensible approach to reducing your caloric intake is to eat slightly fewer calories at each meal. Unfortunately, many dieters opt to create a calorie deficit by skipping entire meals. The problem with this is that it often leads to hunger that causes you to overeat later. This pattern can negate your calorie deficit and even gain weight.

The Bottom Line

If you’re hoping to lose weight, watching your calorie intake is key. Contrary to popular belief, carbohydrates are not the enemy, but make sure to stick to nutrient-rich sources for energy. And don’t skip meals. Even if you can only grab a protein bar or an apple and some almonds, try to eat small, nutritious meals every few hours to keep your hunger at bay and your diet on track.

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