When it comes to dieting advice, if someone tells you to “never” or “always” do something, it’s likely they’re promoting a nutrition myth. So how do you determine fact from fiction?
Check out the following ill-informed nutrition tips, and see what bad advice you’ve been given in the past.
Eat six "mini" meals a day.1 of 15
This nutrition tip was born with good intentions, but unfortunately, eating like this is not realistic for everyone. While small meals might help with staving off hunger, there is little proof that they promote greater weight loss.
Bottom line: Design an eating program that works for you. If you find eating several times per day leads to an overconsumption of calories, opting for three meals with one snack is a great alternative.
Eating fat will make you fat.2 of 15
Yes and no. It all depends on the type of fats you're eating. Paired with a healthy diet, the right fats may actually help you shed a few pounds.
Bottom line: Drop the trans fat, go light on the saturated fats, and instead, opt for mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Good sources of monounsaturated fat include olive oil and avocados. For polyunsaturated fats (like omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids), think salmon and flaxseeds.
Carbs are the enemy.3 of 15
If you cut your carbs to an extremely low level, you will miss out on the vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that are present in carb-heavy foods like fruit and some vegetables.
Bottom line: Carbohydrates are an essential part of your daily diet because they contain the glucose that fuels your body and brain. The minimum amount of recommended carbohydrates per day is 130 grams or 45 to 65 percent of your total calories.
Eat more protein than carbohydrates.4 of 15
Yes, you should include lean sources of protein in your diet, but this macronutrient cannot be your main source of calories. There are three macronutrients for a reason: Your body needs carbohydrates, fat and protein for optimal health.
Bottom line: For athletes, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends a daily intake of 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. For general health, the Academy recommends 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.
Don't eat after 7 p.m.5 of 15
If there is one nutrition myth that seems to stand the test of time, this is it. We have been hearing for years that food should be off-limits after the clock strikes a certain hour—regardless of personal circumstances.
Bottom line: If it's 8:00 p.m. and you're hungry, EAT, but choose wisely. Well-balanced options include: a serving of cottage cheese with a piece of fruit, an apple with a handful of almonds and string cheese, a piece of whole-grain toast with avocado spread, sliced veggies with hummus or a bowl of low-sugar/high-fiber cereal or oatmeal.
Detox your way to a healthier system.6 of 15
How many times have you heard, "Do this awesome detox to jumpstart your weight loss!"? Unfortunately, there is no detox or quick-fix diet that will magically speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight long-term.
Bottom line: Trust the natural detoxification process that your body performs around the clock. Supporting this process doesn't require a rigorous plan. Try a few of these simple tips instead: Actively hydrate with water, eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day and eat cruciferous vegetables and naturally fermented foods.
You can eat whatever you want as long as you exercise.7 of 15
This is a mentality that runners often fall victim to, especially if they are training for a long-distance run like a half or full marathon. The thinking goes like this: If I'm burning all these calories, then it really doesn't matter what I put in my mouth, right? Truth is, exercise does not cancel out the effects of a poor diet.
Bottom line: Make sure the calories you are consuming do not outnumber the calories you are burning (at least most days of the week!).
Ditch the yolk.8 of 15
For years, we were told to stop eating eggs or at least ditch the yolk and only scramble up the whites. Eggs, which contain cholesterol, were thought to increase the risk of heart disease by raising cholesterol levels. But recent studies show that cholesterol in food has little impact on the levels of cholesterol in your blood.
Bottom line: If you're concerned about eating too much of the good stuff (yolk), opt for one whole egg scrambled with two egg whites.
Only eat foods in certain orders or combinations.9 of 15
Food-combining diets have been around for years, and one common, never-dying belief states that you should eat fruit raw, and not in combination with other foods. Otherwise, the myth asserts, they will ferment, rot or turn toxic in the stomach.
Bottom line: Be wary of any talk about necessary food orders. You can eat fruit as part of a larger meal or snack, and it can be raw or cooked.
Switch to diet soda if you want to save calories.10 of 15
Diet soda makes an appearance in many commercial diet plans as an acceptable zero-calorie or "free" option. However, a significant amount of research has been done on diet soda in recent years, and some studies suggest that artificial sweeteners (i.e., aspartame and sucralose) can cause negative health outcomes and even lead to weight gain.
Bottom line: Ditch soda in all its forms and try water infused with fruit instead.
Elimination diets are best for weight loss.11 of 15
The diet industry makes billions of dollars encouraging people to eliminate one particular food from their diet (most recently, sugar and carbs) if they want to lose weight fast. But often, these programs—and their results—are short-lived.
Bottom line: Unless you have a medical condition that requires you to eliminate certain foods, the all-or-nothing mentality isn't necessary and can actually hurt your motivation over time.
All calories are equal.12 of 15
If that were true, I could eat chocolate for my daily quota of fat, instead of an avocado. Unfortunately, the calories in chocolate are not as nutritious as the calories in an avocado, which means the health benefits don't match up.
Bottom line: Quality calories, like those found in fruits and vegetables, are nutrient-dense, whereas, the calories in a bag of potato chips don't contain any nutrients.
Cut dairy products if you want to be healthy.13 of 15
Dairy has been unfairly blamed for all kinds of ailments, but unless you are lactose intolerant, you don't have to cut it. Even people who are lactose sensitive can still enjoy some dairy every now and again.
Bottom line: Dairy products such as Greek yogurt are great sources of protein and calcium and a wonderful addition to your diet if you aren't lactose intolerant.