5 Common Dieting Misconceptions Debunked

Monday, December 12, 2016
5 Common Dieting Misconceptions Debunked

There are many misconceptions regarding nutrition and weight loss. We get all kinds of contradictory information all the time whether it’s from the media, the internet, or even from our own families, especially the older generation. Below are some of the most common misconceptions people have.


1. Skipping breakfast helps you to lose weight


Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Fat burning processes are most active in the morning, which translates into boosting your metabolism, and thus burning more calories and losing weight. Breakfast skippers are more likely to eat larger meals at lunchtime and end up snacking throughout the day. In addition, eating breakfast has several benefits. It improves concentration, especially among school children, and leads to better academic performance. Having said all that, the old saying "Have breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dine like a pauper," starts to make sense.


2. If you are on a diet, use brown sugar instead of white sugar


Both brown sugar and white sugar have the same caloric content. One teaspoon of either sugar has around 20 calories. Brown sugar is darker because it has more molasses. It also has a higher mineral content notably iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. However, since these minerals are found in such small amounts, there is no real advantage of consuming brown sugar. Dieters can also still enjoy the taste of sugar with the use of artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes available on the market. 


3. Fat-free foods are calorie free and will not make you gain weight


Purchasing fat-free food can be very deceiving for many people. Fat-free food refers to the fact that a product contains very little or no fat.  However, that does not mean that such a product does not have any calories. Calories do not only come from fat; calories can come from proteins and carbohydrates as well. The bottom line is that we all need to read the nutrition facts found on the back of most products.  Also, pay attention… low fat does not mean fat free!


4. Cook with olive oil instead of butter when trying to decrease calories in a recipe

Olive oil, or any other oil, has the same caloric content as butter. One teaspoon of oil or butter provides 45 kcal. Thus, to attain weight loss, either will not help. However, from a health perspective, olive oil remains a better choice compared to butter. This is due to the fact that olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids (good fat), which lowers the risk of heart disease by decreasing LDL blood cholesterol (bad cholesterol). In contrast, butter is high in saturated fatty acids (bad fat), which increases the risk of heart problems by increasing LDL blood cholesterol (bad cholesterol). Consuming olive oil, specifically extra-virgin, remains the best choice. Extra virgin olive oil contains high levels of polyphenols which act as antioxidants.


5. Eating grapefruit helps in burning fat

Ohhh… how we wish this one was true! There is no magical food that melts away your fat. That does not mean that grapefruit is not beneficial for your health. Grapefruits are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant which is protective against breast cancer and heart disease. However, grapefruit juice can affect the absorption of some medications such as Statins (drugs used to lower blood cholesterol), some immunosuppressants (drugs used to prevent organ rejection), and some neurological and psychiatric medications. For this reason, grapefruit should be consumed after consulting your physician and dietitian if you are on medication.


In the end, weight loss can be achieved by following a diet that is in accordance with the Food Guide Pyramid. Keep in mind variety and moderation, as well as incorporating physical activity into your schedule at least 3 times per week. Just remember that there are no secrets to weight loss and weight control, and miracle cures also do not exist. Knowledge, hard work, and determination will help you to keep on a healthy track.