Diet and Nutrition Myths

You've probably heard a lot of diet myths. I've collected just a few of these myths, which might sound true, but aren't. We all want to lose weight without falling into the "myth trap". Debunking this myths is a great place to start.

Myth: Starches will make you fat, so you should avoid them if you're trying to lose weight.

Fact: There are lots of foods that are high in starch, but low in fat. These include bread, rice, pasta, cereals, fruits, beans, and even some vegetables, such as yams and potatoes. They only become high in fat and calories when you cover them in toppings like sour cream, butter, and mayonnaise. Starchy foods – also known as complex carbohydrates – are a very important source of energy.

Tip: The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating six to eleven servings per day, depending on your calorie needs, even if you're trying to lose weight. Be sure you pay attention to serving sizes, though. A single service of starchy food is equal to one slice of bread, an ounce of ready to eat cereal, or half a cup of pasta, rice, or cooked cereal. Avoid high-fat toppings, and choose whole grains over refined ones. Whole wheat bread, oatment, bran cereal, and brown rice are better for you than their processed cousins. When choosing other starchy foods, pick those with a lot of dietary fibers, such as vegetables, peas, and beans.

Myth: Low or nonfat foods will have fewer or no calories

Fact: Just because a food is low fat or nonfat, doesn't mean that it doesn't have any calories. These foods might be lower in calories than a serving of the same size of the regular food. However, you'll have to read the label to be sure. Some low fat versions of food have extra flour, starch, or sugar that mean they'll be just as caloric as regular food.

Tip: Always read the Nutrition Facts Label on food packages to determine how many calories are in one serving. Be sure you also check the serving size – many "diet" foods just use a tiny serving.

Myth: Fast foods are always an unhealthy choice and you should not eat them when dieting.

Fact: If you eat well, fast food can be part of your weight loss program.

Tip: Avoid supersizing your meals or getting a combo meal. If you really want one, share it with a friend. Try water or nonfat milk instead of a soda, and look for grilled foods and salads. If you must get a hamburger, choose a small one. Try getting tacos "fresco" (with salsa instead of fatty sauces and cheese) to reduce calories. Fried foods are popular, but high in calories and fat. This means you should only order them infrequently. You can also split the order with a friend, but be sure to use only small amounts of condiments, since the calories can really add up.

Myth: Skipping meals will help you lose weight.

Fact: People who skip breakfast and eat infrequently actually tend to weight more than those who eat breakfast and have several small meals throughout the day. This might be because people who skip meals tend to become very hungry and eat more than they need to, or it might be that eating small meals helps with appetite control.

Tip: Eat many small meals during the day, but make sure they include healthy foods that are low in fat and calories.

Myth: Eating red meat is always unhealthy, and it makes it harder to lose weight.

Fact: Small amounts of lean meat can be part of your healthy weight loss plan. All meats, whether you eat chicken, fish, beef, pork, or others, contain some saturated fats and cholesterol. However, they also contain important nutrients like zinc, iron, and protein.

Tip: Pick cuts of meat that are already low in fat, and trim off any visible fat. Low fat meats include pork tenderloin, beef sirloin tip, flank steak, round steak, tenderloin, and extra lean ground beef. Be sure you watch your portion size. A single serving of meat is two to three ounces, after cooking. That's about as big as a deck of cards.

If you become a vegetarian, you'll automatically be healthier and lose weight

Fact: Most vegetarians do eat less fat and fewer calories than people whose diets include meat. They also generally have lower body weights in relation to height than non vegetarians. A vegetarian eating plan that has little fat can help you lose weight. However, vegetarians can eat just as badly as everyone else. Choosing foods with a lot of fat or calories, or foods without much nutritional value will make anyone gain weight.

If you're thinking about a vegetarian diet, remember that you should plan it just as carefully as an ordinary diet. There are some nutrients that non-vegetarians ordinarily get from animal sources, like iron, calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin D, protein, and zinc. You can get all of these nutrients without meat, but you'll have to expand your horizons a bit.

Tip: When choosing a vegetarian eating plan, keep an eye on fat and nutrients.

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