There’s an overwhelming amount of nutrition and fitness information available online. This make it challenging to discern between fad and fact to ensure you are approaching diet and exercise in a way that can actually produce healthy, sustainable results. Let’s take a look-at some of the most common nutrition myths out there:
Myth #1: Calories turn to fat after 6 pm
Truth: A calorie is a calorie, regardless of the time of day (or night) it is consumed. This arbitrary rule can be a way to help control overall intake, since the late-night munchies often lead to uncontrolled snacking on high calorie foods. Instead of worrying about when you’re eating, be more attentive to what you are eating.
Myth #2: You need to eat more fat-burning foods
Truth: While there are no foods with special fat-burning powers, high-volume foods like fruits and veggies allow you to feel full and satisfied while eating fewer calories. Any food that you eat while in a calorie deficit is helping you burn body fat!
Myth #3: You need a juice cleanse in order to detox
Truth: There is no juice cleanse, tea detox, or IV that will do a better job at handling harmful toxins in your body than your own kidneys and liver. A five-day detox may result in quick weight loss (since you’re not eating real food), but it’s not a sustainable way to lose body fat. Save your money; drink more water!
Myth #4: You are addicted to sugar
Truth: High sugar foods are hyperpalatable (delicious and easy to overeat) and can lead to craving more sugary foods, but these cravings are not a true addiction. If you feel out of control around sugary foods, it may be best to identify foods that are triggers for you and work on finding balance in your food choices so that you are fueling your body with mostly whole foods—while enjoying sugary treats in moderation.
Myth #5: Supplements can help speed up weight loss
Truth: Supplements are the last thing to worry about if you’re trying to lose body fat. Many supplements contain micronutrients you can get just by eating nutrient-dense, whole foods and focusing on a balanced diet. Fat burners are stimulants and can help curb appetite (because they generally contain caffeine), but they can’t make up for a poor diet. You will always benefit more from focusing on eating more veggies, drinking enough water, and eating an adequate amount of protein.
The bottom line: most diets, superfoods, and fads aim to help you consume fewer calories, creating a calorie deficit (eating less fuel than you use). That calorie deficit is the only way to lose body fat, but it doesn’t require restrictive diet rules or special supplements. A calorie deficit can be achieved by limiting high-calorie processed foods, reducing the size of your meals, or replacing high-calorie foods with nutrient-dense fruits and veggies—and practicing all of these healthy habits consistently.
Kate Lyman, MPH, CHES is a Memphis-based nutrition coach who believes in ditching restrictive diet rules and building flexible eating habits so that you can eat the foods you enjoy while still working towards your goals. She provides personalized online nutrition coaching and creates resources that can help anyone improve their diet. Find her cookbooks, nutrition guides, and other resources at katelymannutrition.com or on follow along at @klnutrition.