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Debunking 8 'Fad' Diet Myths

Fitday Editor

Turn on the television, open a magazine or walk through your local pharmacy and you'll find endless ways to lose weight. There are a zillion 'fad' diets promising fast weight loss using pills or special diet plans that can compromise our health. Many think we can all do anything for two weeks if we get results. In spite of all these fad diet plans, thousands of people are still overweight. Any diet plan can help you lose weight initially but the key is keeping it off for a lifetime of good health.

If any diet plan is not healthy or limits you to one food group, then it will be impossible to stay with for the rest of your life. It's not healthy for the body to lose and regain weight because it can increase your risk for diabetes, heart disease, or stroke and can impair your immune system. You also run the risk of losing precious muscle instead of body fat, making it more likely for you to be heavier than before you started the diet plan.

Here are some myths about fad diets to avoid:

Myth # 1: You have to be super skinny to be healthy

Nothing could be further from the truth. Many models in fashion magazines and on television are 40 to 50 pounds lighter than the average woman through airbrushing and editing, making many women feel inferior and bad about their bodies. Eating disorders can be the result with low self-esteem and poor health.

Myth # 2: It's okay to skip meals to lose weight

All this will do is slow down your metabolism and force your body to store calories as fat when you do eat a meal. The other problem with skipping meals is it can lead to more cravings especially for sugar as well as bingeing. Instead you should eat mini-meals every three to four hours that consist of protein and fiber. This will promote weight loss naturally without feeling deprived.

Myth # 3: As long as you eat less, you don't need to exercise

Combining exercise with a healthy eating plan is the only way to lose weight and keep it off in a healthy way. Regular exercise helps reduce your appetite and burns calories more efficiently. You should incorporate weight-training exercises to build lean muscle. This will act as your own built-in furnace to help you burn calories and lose body fat.

Myth #4: If you sleep less you'll lose weight

Sleep deprivation can actually alter your appetite hormones, ghrelin and leptin. Sleep deprivation causes leptin, a protein that regulates appetite, to decrease while increasing the ghrelin hormone that stimulates appetite. Both of these actions can cause you to pack on the pounds by craving sugar and high-fat foods plus feel too tired to exercise. Aim for at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night.

Myth #5: Stay away from carbohydrates and you will lose weight

There are good and bad carbohydrates. The bad carbohydrates are those predominantly found in the center aisles of the grocery store full of high fructose corn syrup, white flour, sugar, and trans fats. The good carbohydrates are found in the produce section but also include whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and even whole-grain pasta. They are full of fiber and nutrients and can help lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and help reduce visceral fat (the fat that engulfs your internal organs and promotes insulin storage leading to cravings, more weight gain, high blood pressure, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, colon and breast cancer).

Myth # 6: Artificial sweeteners will help you lose weight

Many women think that using artificial sweeteners will help them avoid sugar and get thin. The truth is they actually promote hunger because the brain registers it received something sweet, but the stomach says, "Where is it?" In other words, the body gets confused when it involves the hormones that regulate appetite, brain, nerves, and stomach that make it difficult for the body to regulate how many calories are consumed. Try to avoid foods with artificial sweeteners altogether. When it comes to your morning coffee, try a tablespoon of organic maple syrup that will add great flavor and antioxidants to your hot beverage.


Myth #7: Eat everything fat-free

Eating good fats like those found in olive oil, nuts, ground flaxseeds and fish (Omega 3's) can actually help you lose weight. It's the unhealthy fats found in full-fat dairy products, trans fats in processed foods, and saturated fat in red meat that puts the weight on. The healthy fats increase our internal heat system known as thermogenesis that burns calories. Adopt the Mediterranean diet that includes fish, nuts, seeds, whole-grains, and fruit--this will reduce inflammation and promote weight loss.

Myth # 8: Weight loss supplements will drop the pounds

Many of these supplements include stimulants that decrease appetite and increase metabolic rate FAST. However, losing more than a pound per week is not a healthy way to lose weight and can lead to a serious illness, indigestion, diarrhea, stomach cramps, or other health problems. Nothing beats whole foods and regular exercise for losing weight and keeping it off. Save your money and use it towards whole foods and a way to exercise on a consistent basis.

Sherry L. Granader is a Sports Nutritionist, National Speaker and Spokesperson, Author of 2 healthy cookbooks, Writer, Ghost Writer, Nationally Certified Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. She has shared the stage with such celebrities as Whoopi Goldberg, Suze Orman and the late Governor Ann Richards and served as the On-Air Nutritionist for QVC television in the United States and the UK. She has cooked for her favorite bodybuilder, Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk) and his family, shared her nutrition expertise with Chuck Norris on the set of his movie "Sidekicks" and appeared on 8-time Mr. Olympia, Lee Haney's Championship Workouts on ESPN. Sherry hosted her own "Healthy Living" show on PBS for several years. For more information on Sherry, visit or write to Sherry at [email protected].

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