Cynthia Sass, registered dietitian, reminds us of six big diet myths. First, not all calories are created equal. “When I hear people repeat notions like “a calorie is a calorie” I like to reply: “That’s like saying a cubic zirconia is the same as a sparkling diamond,” said Sass.
Here are six common diet and weight-loss myths according to Sass.
Myth: Calories, not quality, impact weight
A University of Florida study reports individuals consuming foods with more antioxidants maintain lower BMIs, smaller waistlines, and lower body-fat percentages than those with lower antioxidant intakes. In this study, both groups consumed approximately the same number of daily calories. FACT: Eating 500 calories of processed or fast food does not have the same impact on the body as eating a 500-calorie meal composed of fruits, veggies, whole grain and lean protein.
Myth: Calorie math is precise
A Harvard professor created a buzz when she presented the shortcomings of the 100-year-old formula used to determine the calorie values of food. Several food types were found to contain fewer calories than listed in current charts because some components of the food do not get digested and absorbed into the body. For example, almonds supply about 30% fewer calories than the label states. Meanwhile ginger and chili pepper has been found to increase metabolic rate, triggering more fat burn.
Myth: Numbers don’t lie
Food label guidelines: Most products are allowed a 20% variance when it comes to the accuracy of the calories stated on the label. When a frozen dinner states is has 300 calories per serving, it could actually contain over 350 calories. If you eat packaged foods daily allow for a 20% increase in calories (or plus several 100 calories).
Myth: Counting calories is a surefire strategy
If you count calories, will you still gain weight? Researchers at the University of California San Francisco, say possibly. Of the 121 women in the study, they found those who limited calories to 1200 calories a day also had increased levels of cortisol (a stress hormone known to increase appetite and cravings for fatty or sugary foods). Even those women who simply wrote down the calories but didn’t limit them had increases in cortisol.
Myth: All calories are created equal
Our body needs three types of calories: Carbohydrates, protein and fat. Balancing all three is important and within these categories we can make healthier food choices. For example, eating too few protein calories and too many carb calories can result in weight gain and the loss of muscle mass, creating dry, dull hair and skin, hormonal imbalances, and a weaker immune system.
Myth: Counting calories is necessary
Most adults are not able to accurately estimate their daily calorie intake because you also need to figure your age, height, weight and physical activity. Of the estimated 12 percent of adults who can, they are using tools. For example, the app myfitnesspal is recommended by Dr. McEwen’s bariatric services staff and maintaining close communication with Gina Goodwin, RD. Choosing fresh, colorful foods and balancing good carbs with lean protein and healthy fat is a goal to strive for.
Source: Health Magazine (online) – September 25, 2013. Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian frequently seen on national TV and Health’s contributing nutrition editor.