Everything You Know (About Dieting) is Wrong!

Okay, maybe not everything. But there are a lot of outright myths as well as some presumed facts that still pervade the layman/woman’s understanding about diets. Some persist in spite of evidence from scientific experiment, and others remain in popular culture because there is not scientific evidence one way or the other. Perhaps it’s because we’re more inclined to believe something the more often we hear or see it, or perhaps it’s due to “confirmation bias” (we only focus on the pieces of evidence that support a belief we already have). Perhaps it’s some other factor. In any case, here’s a brief exposure to some not-so-verified rules of dieting.

Diet “facts” scientific studies have produced evidence against:

  1. Losing weight quickly means you’re more likely to gain it all back (compared to losing weight slowly) – research suggests the mechanisms behind weight retention is far more complicated and involves many more factors than simply the speed at which you lose weight.
  2. Don’t set a weight goal that is too “unrealistic” because you’ll just get demoralized – this, naturally, depends on your personality, but in general has been debunked
  3. Don’t weigh yourself daily, it interferes with weight loss – while some people might be in danger of a daily weigh-in becoming an obsessive (and therefore unhealthy) habit, others find it motivating. Remember that weight fluctuates over the course of the day and, if you’re a woman, over the course of your ovulation cycle.
  4. Genes really don’t matter – simply not true. For example, there really are different body types that can gain or lose body fat more easily/quickly than others (ectomorphs find it difficult to gain mass, endomorphs gain weight easily and can struggle to lose fat even while getting fit, mesomorphs are in the middle)

Diet “facts” scientific studies have yet to weigh in on:

  1. Eating breakfast prevents obesity – The idea goes that skipping breakfast sends your body into “starvation mode” after not having eaten over the night, or eating in the morning helps get your metabolism running. While there hasn’t been a solid study concluding one way or the other, pay attention to what your body is telling you and if you’re hungry in the morning, EAT!
  2. Don’t eat too close to your bedtime/Don’t snack in between meals – this may be more of an issue of total calorie consumption (people aren’t watching that they’re just eating too much with the late night or otherwise snacks on top of their routine meals)
  3. Adding fruit/veggies to any diet automatically will help with weight loss – still a total calorie issue. If the rest of your lifestyle remains unchained, adding an apple or a bowl of steamed broccoli won’t necessarily help you to lose weight.
  4. Drinking more water with any diet automatically will help with weight loss – yes, most people could probably benefit from imbibing more H2O, and choosing a glass of it in place of mindless snacking is definitely healthier (and fewer calories), but research hasn’t shown if that extra hydration helps you lose weight if you keep all of your other habits the same.
  5. Yo-yo dieting will kill you faster – while studies have shown that it’s difficult for people who lose a significant amount of weight to permanently keep it off, they have not yet shown that weight cycling (aka yo-yo dieting) increases mortality rate.

By: Pasadena Personal Trainer Ron Le

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