There are times that our perceptions about diet are completely wrong while the information that we get from the web often makes us upset or confused, especially when it relates to health issues. Given that our eating choices influence both our health and our appearance, we present the most widespread diet myths and the truth behind them!
If you like what you will read below take a look at the 8 most popular nutrition myths of all times.
Myth 1: The whole meal bread has fewer calories than the white bread
The “battle” between the white bread and wholemeal bread comes almost to a tie, with the second one to yield around 5 more calories per slice! However whole meal’s nutritional value excels as it is richer in nutrients and fiber, while having a lower glycemic index than the white bread.
Myth 2: My metabolism “Stuck” and I do not lose weight any more
In order to lose weight one must take fewer calories than he needs. Furthermore, a slimmer body requires less energy than a heavier body in order to maintain.
During a diet, when the body weight is reduced, it comes the time when the energy you get from food is equal to the amount of energy your body needs. That is why your weight stabilizes.
From that point you stop losing weight, not because your metabolism is “blocked”, but because you take more calories than your new, lower weight, body needs. (See also: How to increase your metabolism naturally)
Myth 3: “Diet” foods do not help in weight loss.
We may often have questions in our minds, but the most recent scientific data suggests that light (or diet) foods can be a strong ally in weight management, as long as they are consumed in moderation and as a part of a balanced and active lifestyle.
The “misinterpretation” about their effectiveness comes from the fact that many think that the diet products are not fattening, so they consume large quantities of them! But «light» does not mean “calorie free.” With the exception of some light refreshments and cold drinks with very low or no calories at all, the other “light” versions of foods and beverages still provide energy (calories).
Moreover, based on food law, «light» are the products with 30% less calories compared to “standard”. If we check the labels and compare the light versions with the standard ones, we will identify individual differences (for example, 1 slice of yellow cheese gives about 75 calories and 1 slice of yellow “light” cheese gives 55 calories).
Therefore, when light foods or drinks replace the standard ones as part of a balanced diet, they manage to reduce the amount of the calories we get and will provide a valuable “helping hand” to weight loss, given that they are consumed in moderation. (See also: Are diet drinks bad for you)
Myth 4: Sugar is prohibited in weight loss diets
If black coffee is the first step in losing weight, then it’s time to think again, as the truth about sugar is not so bitter. Sugar belongs to simple carbohydrates, providing a “fuel” that gives instant energy to the body, and it has confirmed that the moderate consumption of it can be part of a balanced diet.
Do not forget that the “key” for proper weight management is the triptych Moderation-Balance-Variety, which essentially means that no food or ingredient is considered to be ‘forbidden’, and it has not the full responsibility for your weight gain.
So, even in weight loss diets, sugar is not considered to be prohibitive. Instead, you can enjoy the sweetness, integrating it in moderation in a balanced diet, always according to your own needs for energy and nutrients, and in accordance with the recommendations of the dietitian.
If you still think sugar is bad for you, then these are the 20 best ways to replace sugar in your daily diet.
Myth 5: Olive oil is nutritious food and therefore not fattening
Indeed, olive oil is made from the so-called “good” monounsaturated fat and it is a nutritious food; however, it still belongs to the category of fat, which means that it is rich in calories!
So every gram of fat will give you 9 calories, which is more than twice if you compare them with carbohydrates (bread, sugar, pasta, etc.) and protein (red meat, fish, poultry, etc.) that gives 4 calories per gram.
So stay away from the excesses and make sure to consume olive oil in moderation. Its irrational use may turn your salad into a “bomb” calorie.
You can also read: How much fat should I eat
Myth 6: Be sure to drink 8 glasses of water a day
Drinking water is good for you but do you measure glasses until you catch the coveted goal, which, to be honest, has been already reversed! For starters, each one of us has his own water needs, depending on gender, age, physical activity and environmental conditions.
Moreover, although the water should be the first choice, yet it is not the only means of hydration. In fact, we get water by all liquid beverages, but also by many foods too, such as fruits, vegetables and yogurt.
Indeed, it has been estimated that we take the 20-30% of our daily liquid needs by the solid foods and the remaining 70-80% by drinking water and other non-alcoholic beverages.
Thus, the recent scientific data and recommendations from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) clearly state that the 2 to 2.5 liters of water that should be ingested daily (women and men respectively) can be covered by all sources.
This practically means that you can put some taste even into your hydration, by choosing beyond the drinking water a variety of non-alcoholic beverages such as juices, milk, soft drinks, coffee and tea.
Remember that many drinks contain calories, which should be included in the total daily intake; light versions can be an additional source of hydration with a pleasant taste and fewer or no calories at all.
Myth 7: The “E” listed on food labels are dangerous
The initial letter E that you see on food labels comes from the word (E) UROPE and simply means … (E) Europe Coding! E is a classification code that corresponds to a food additive which has been evaluated as safe and is approved by the European Union (EU).
If the food additives are still “misunderstood” in your mind, you should know that without them we couldn’t consume most of our favorite products. Essentially, these ingredients were added to food in order to keep them nutritious, tasty and above all safe; for example, to prevent changes that would be dangerous for our health.
Some of them are of natural origin, such as lycopene from tomato that is used to give a red color, some are contained in foods naturally but are synthesized too for practical reasons, such as the ascorbic acid (vitamin C) which protects against oxidation, and others are synthesized to yield a certain characteristic, such as aspartame, which is composed of two amino acids (essential components of proteins) to give a sweet taste without calories.
All food additives, regardless of their origin and type, go through the same rigorous process of evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority, which not only allows their use if they are proven to be safe, but also it reassesses them periodically so that we are always assured that the additives are safe ingredients of our food.
Myth 8: The low calorie sweeteners, such as aspartame, are unsafe
Many times we find inaccurate data, especially in the Web, questioning the safety of low calorie sweeteners such as aspartame; and many times a relative or a friend warns us that these things are “dangerous” for our health…
But the truth is that all these opinions are not scientifically correct. Low calorie sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame-K, saccharin, sucralose and steviol glycosides (sweetener from the stevia plant) belong to food additives and therefore are approved for use in foods and beverages after their safety assessment by EFSA, which confirms that there are no short-term or long-term side effects by these products in humans.
Indeed, the available scientific data indicates that non-caloric sweeteners may be safely consumed by all population groups, such as pregnant women, breastfeeding women, children and those suffering from diabetes.
For example, aspartame, which is often accused, is probably the more extensively studied food additive, and it is repeatedly confirmed that it is safe by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which is the body responsible for food safety in the European Union.
Something that is also not widely known, is that aspartame consists of two amino acids (aspartic acid and phenylalanine), components of proteins, which are found in protein foods such as meat, milk, eggs, as well as a small amount of methanol, which is also contained in various fruits and vegetables.
Aspartame is metabolized in the human body, exactly like the other protein foods are.
Myth 9: Addicted to sugar
The preference for sweet taste is rooted in our genes and it is a potential survival mechanism that we use since our infancy and directs us to nutritious, safe foods, such as fruit or milk.
The fact that we may have a desire for something sweet from time to time indeed is not strange at all; the sweet taste causes us pleasure, a very delightful feeling, not only when we taste something delicious, but in various situations of our daily lives too; for example when we hold our child or when we laugh.
Thus, the recent scientific data indicates that although sugar creates the feeling of pleasure, it does not cause any kind of addiction to humans. Our eating behavior, the way that we think and behave towards food determines how often and in what quantities we will consume any tasty dish.