6 common diet myths, busted
When it comes to diet and nutrition, there are plenty of misconceptions out there. We sort fact from fiction to help you stay on track.
Susie Burrell | Dietician
- You need to eat regularly to keep your metabolism going
Not eating for long periods of time can cause a reduction in your metabolic rate, but going an entire day without eating is an issue, not a couple of hours. It’s best to leave at least 3-4 hours in between meals to allow the hormones that control fat metabolism to return to normal levels between meals.
- Going to the gym means you can eat whatever you like
Many regular gym-goers use their workouts to justify eating extra calories. The problem is that for many of us the exercise is simply making up for all the time we spend sitting down. If we then eat more because we’ve trained, we don’t get the sustained calorie deficits that support weight loss.
- You’ll lose the same amount of weight each week
Fat metabolism is complicated and if you’ve been overweight for a while it takes time to lose it. Often substantial weight losses (1-2kg a week) are followed by periods of minimal loss as the body readjusts and resets its metabolic rate. So some weeks you’ll lose weight and some not. This is why it’s wise to focus on your longer term weight loss goals and only weigh yourself once or twice a week.
- Fruit contains fructose so should be avoided
We’ve been hearing about the toxicity of fructose for a number of years now, and of course one of the richest sources of fructose in the diet is from fresh fruit. While fruit does contain the sugar fructose, it also contains plenty of fibre and key nutrients, and thousands of years of fruit consumption tells us that a couple of pieces a day will do no harm.
- Skim milk has more sugar than full cream milk
A shift toward more natural eating has seen health enthusiasts keen to consume their foods in as natural a state as possible. It’s often argued that skim milk is more processed than full cream milk, and that it contains more sugar, which isn’t the case.
The truth is that public health recommendations to swap full cream dairy to low fat varieties came from the observation that Australians were consuming too much saturated fat, and as dairy and meat are two of the largest sources of saturated fat in the diet, it made sense to recommend skim milk.
If you have heart disease it still makes sense to choose low or reduced fat dairy, but if you have a low fat intake overall, and are slim and fit with no history of heart disease, full cream milk is unlikely to cause any harm.
- Potatoes should be avoided
The poor old potato; it’s packed full of B group vitamins and fibre and yet with a relatively high glycaemic index, has been banned from many a weight loss diet. If you consider that a single potato contains just 20g of total carbohydrates, less than half a cup of rice or pasta, a simple baked potato (of reasonable size and not made into chips) is a great choice nutritionally.