This means that almost anyone can make a statement or a claim about something whether it be food, exercise, supplement or other and it may not necessarily be the full truth.
With a tonne of money being spent on fancy marketing of products, pills, supplements, and programs to give you the illusion of credibility of these products and services, how do you know what information is right and what is bogus? Below are some myths and facts on dieting followed by some useful tips on navigating websites to find the right information.
MYTH - Fasting can make you lose weight quickly
FACT: Think of your body and it's metabolism like a burning fire. If you stop putting wood on that fire, the fire will go out. Your metabolism works in a similar fashion. Our bodies are designed to be fed in small amounts regularly. Going for an extended period of time without eating, skipping meals or going on a very low (hypocaloric) calorie diet can slow down the rate of your metabolism making your body less efficient at burning energy. Typically people who fast will lose more muscle mass than fat mass (1,7).
MYTH - Cutting out carbs makes you lose weight
FACT: Carbohydrates as a substance in your body retains more water compared to proteins and fats. When you cut out carbs, you will see a rapid weight reduction of between 1-3 kg. This is water loss not fat loss. When you eat carbs again you then gain weight due to the water retention factor which can create that yo yo effect you may experience when you eat carbs and then cut carbs (1,7).
There are two types of carbohydrates simple and complex carbs. Simple carbs are those found in chocolate, ice-cream, soft drinks and lollies. They provide you with little nutrients and a high amount of sugars, fats and calories. Complex carbs are those found in wholegrain foods, brown rice and wholemeal pastas. They provide you not only with a range of nutrients but also important fibre that is linked to weight loss, and reduced cancer risk of stomach, colon and intestinal cancers.
The quantities that people consume is the issue. Eaten in moderation as per the Australian Dietary Guidelines (6) should not pose an issue for those that do not suffer from intolerances. Low carb, low fat diets are the way to go for weight loss. Don't get them mixed up for Very low carb diets or no carb diets which drop you in to the danger zone!! (2,3,4,5).
MYTH - Shakes are the best way to lose weight
FACT: Shakes were originally designed for morbidly obese patients that required surgery in a short time frame. It then became a craze in the nutrition industry and everyone wants a shake! In reality following a shake diet isn't a long term solution. It can be increasingly challenging for people to transition from shakes to real food and maintain their goal weight. Following a portion controlled, balanced diet and exercise can effectively get you the same results without putting your mind and body through the ringer that unrealistic diets put you through.
- If a diet cuts out key food groups then it may not be a healthy or realistic diet to follow
- Cutting out food groups means you cut out essential nutrients your body needs to function. Following them for too long can create other health issues down the track
- If it promotes rapid weight loss, chances are you are going to re-gain some or all of that weight you lost. 1/2 to 1kg per week is a safe recommendation
- If a diet has lots of rules and restrictions, think about how long you realistically think you could follow it for, and what will happen when you stop following it and go back to normal food?
- Websites that have lots of advertising and pop ups tend to be less credible and reliable as a source of information.
- Websites often claim to have the backing of scientific evidence and research papers, but have they provided any links to this evidence?
- And if they have provided links to certain research papers, have you ever clicked on those links to see if it actually takes you to something reliable, current and relevant to what they are claiming?
- Government websites use scientific evidence to substantiate their promotions with health, nutrition and exercise. These websites are reliable and provide factual sources of information.
- If it sounds too good to be true it usually is.
- Celebrity endorsements are usually a warning sign of a fad product or service.
- If the website looks amazing and is asking you for lots of money for a product, make sure you do your research before you commit!
(1) Understanding Nutrition, Whitney and Rolfes, 2016
(2) Dietary Fibre Intake and Risks of Cancers of the Colon and Rectum in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), 2012; http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0039361
(3) Food Types and Bowel Cancer, 2016; http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/type/bowel-cancer/about/risks/food-types-and-bowel-cancer
(4) How Fiber Helps Protect Against Cancer; https://www.pcrm.org/health/cancer-resources/diet-cancer/nutrition/how-fiber-helps-protect-against-cancer
(5) Low Fat Versus Low Carbohydrate Weight Reduction Diets, 2009; http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/58/12/2741
(6) Australian Dietary Guidelines, 2106; https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/
(7) Effects of Low-Carbohydrate Diets Versus Low-Fat Diets on Metabolic Risk Factors: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Clinical Trials, 2012; http://aje.oxfordjournals.org/content/176/suppl_7/S44.full