Ten Big Fat Lies about Dieting

For Most of us, dieting is a frustrating fact of life. With so much conflicting nutritional information about, it can be difficult to tell which weight loss strategies really work. Start by discounting these confusing myths.

1. All calories arc created equal
What you cat,not how much, is the main factor behind weight gain, according to research at Cornell University in New York, Calories from fat pack on the pounds. The reason; during digestion, the body burns many more calories metabolizing protein and carbohydrates than it does metabolizing fat. For every 100 calories of carbohydrates we consume in excess of our daily requirement, only 75% are turned into body fat. But 97 of every 100 excess fat. Calories are turned into body fat.

The American Heart Association recommends that no more than 30 percent of daily calories come from fat. Some food-packa-ging labels should make it easier to calculate your daily intake. Avoid palm and coconut oils and other saturated fats — often contained in snacks like crackers and cookies—and opt for low-fat products, such as skim milk and low-fat yogurt.

2. Desserts are taboo
Ruth Lahrnayer. a registered dietitian, advises against categorizing foods as "good” and "bad". Even cakes, pies and ice cream can sensibly be worked into a diet, she says. Moderation is the key. Cut down on other meals if you will be eating out at a restaurant known for its lavish sweets. Or indulge, but take only a few bites. If you crave desserts often but want to save calories, try poached fruit, sorbet or sponge cake heaped with berries. All will satisfy your sweet tooth and supply nutrients as well.

3. When you lose and regain weight. It’s tougher to loss it again
Thomas Waddent, an obesity researcher compared  dieters with people who weren't, and found both groups lost weight easily. One caveat: other studies suggest that losing and gaining weight repeatedly may increase the risk of cardiovascular problems.Experts recommend diet plans that promote a steady loss of one half to one pound a week. Cutting out rich desserts or that glass of wine with dinner every day are painless ways to achieve that goal.

4. It makes no difference whether you are top or bottom heavy
In fact, where weight is distributed makes all the difference. Recent studies suggest that people who store fat on the upper torso and abdomen (apple shape), rather than on hips and thighs (pear shape), may have an increased risk of hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. There is probably little you can do to alter how your body is genetically programmed to store fat, but you can lose excess weight overall.

5. Fast foods are forbidden
A plain hamburger on a bun is still a healthful choice. So is grilled chicken or a green salad with low - cal dressing. But watch out for French fries, milkshakes and batter-dipped chicken or fish.

6. Fasting is the fastest diet
Some studies suggest that drastically reducing calorie intake switches the body into a "starvation mode" which conserves calories and decreases your metabolic rate. The more frequently you deprive yourself of food, the better your body may get at storing calories. So, in the long run, repeated fasting may actually undermine your weight- loss efforts."If you fast to cancel out a recent food binge, you'll probably rebound and overeat," says nutritionist Franca Alphin. What's more, unsupervised fasting for more than three days can create increased risk of gallbladder disease, kidney stress, irritability, hair loss and lowered immunity to infection.

7. Fake fats are a free ticket
As with sugar substitutes, some dieters believe that fake fats make once-taboo foods acceptable. Such foods have a place in a healthful diet. But, cautions Alphin, "Don't assume that because a food doesn't have real fat, you can eat lots of it. You still need to consider portion size and calories, and whatever else is on the menu that day. "Kathleen Zelman, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association concurs: ''Although fake fats offer more options for a low-fat diet, the products that contain them: ice cream ,cakes ,cookies, tend to be high-calorie foods to begin with.The key is moderation. "

8. Fad diets are an effective way to take off pounds
Diets that advocate eating, say, large amounts of only one type of food (such as grapefruit, nuts of meat) for several days or a week is big time losers. ''You don’t  earn a thing about eating sensibly, "says Alphin, "When you go off the diet, you'll have the same bad eating habits and regain any weight you lost. " Adds Alphin, "With any diet, unless you make a commitment to changing your life-style, it is unlikely the weight will stay off.

9. To keep weight off simply watch what you eat
According to Thomas Wadden, exercise combined with dieting ensures weight loss better than dieting alone does. Experts also agree that sticking with regular, moderate exercise is more important than occasional vigorous workouts are. Obesity researcher Kelly Brownell encourages patients to make a series of small physical efforts: taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking the car far from where you are going and walking. "People think they have to do a lot to burn a few calories, so they conclude, Why bother? says Brownell. "They overlook the other positive aspects of regular exercise; appetite control, mood enhancement and possibly a raised metabolism. "

10. It's all your fault you are fat
Albert Stunkard's research at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine indicates that body shape and size are in large part determined by a person's genes. In short, some people are more predisposed to be fat. Moreover, someone who was obese in childhood will have more fat cells than an "average" person. Once made, the cells may enlarge or shrink, but they never disappear.

Yet genes don't have to control your girth. The size of your fat cells depends on you, on your eating habits and life style. Mere are ways to keep them small.

Fill up on low-fat, fiber, rich foods, such as noodles, rice, wholegrain breads, fruits and vegetables. Chew food slowly, putting down your eating utensils between bites. It takes 20 minutes from the time you start eating for the brain to registers that your stomach is full.

Keep a log for a week, noting what, when and how much you eat, as well as your mood. Then study the connection between your emotions and your diet. If anxiety triggers uncontrollable eating, enroll in a stress management, relaxation or exercise class.

Most important, before getting caught up in dietary myths, let good sense shape your eating habits. Your body will thank you for it.
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