Experts Reveal the Top Dieting Myths of Our Time

It seems the diet industry, more than any group in the world, is filled with myths that simply won’t die.

Perhaps you’ve been told that carbs make you fat or that eating more than 1200 calories won’t lead to fat loss. I could go on and on…

It has never been more important to be an educated consumer when it comes to your diet and your health. Here’s what some leading diet and fitness experts believe are dieting myths that just won’t die.

Top 5 Dieting Myths

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Darya Rose is a food and health writer (over at summertomato.com) and is the author of an awesome book, Foodist.

I completely agree with Darya. Dieting is a short term strategy to lose weight but is a terrible way to improve your body and health long-term. Studies show people who diet and lose weight, most often regain all the weight they lost (and then some).

The answer then is not going on a diet but actually changing your habits and making long term adjustments to your lifestyle or, as Darya puts it, your Healthstyle.

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The Nutrition Twins are twin sisters and nationally recognized registered dietitians as well as personal trainers with 15 years of experience helping thousands of clients.

I encounter this myth all the time. It’s most commonly talked about as “No carbs after dark”. For the most part, I’ve found nutrient timing is irrelevant. It’s more important to focus on what you’re eating and how much you’re eating than when you’re eating.

Think eating after dark will make you fat? Studies say otherwise.

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Steve Kamb is a blogger over at nerdfitness.com and, I must say, he’s one of my favorites to read. He’s hilarious, helpful, and a bit unorthodox.

The common trend of the past few decades has been for popular diets to make heroes of some macronutrients (Proteins, Fats, or Carbohydrates) and make villains of others.

And so on…

Fat has, by far, been given the worst name. Unfortunately for many popular diets, fat is not the enemy it’s been made out to be. Although fat is higher in calories than proteins and carbohydrates, it is not as harmful as people would suggest.

Fat not only doesn’t make you fat but many credible experts have claimed diets high in fat are the best for long term health and weight loss.

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Fat burning foods… Ah, If only there was such a thing. My experience with many diets led me to believe some foods are good for you & some foods are bad for you. The way you lost weight was determined by the foods you cut out of your diet and so on.

After years of research and experience, I’ve simply found this to be untrue. I’ve personally put on fat while “eating clean”. Although I’m a huge advocate for the majority of your diet consisting of quality, nutrient-dense foods, I also believe quantity is just as important.

Another myth that is super common is that eating carbs will make you fat or prevent you from losing weight. I can’t tell you how many times my coaching clients have sent me an email freaking out because I prescribe them an eating plan with 40% carbs. “how will I lose weight eating carbs in the triple digits!” they exclaim.

I understand that many of my clients are operating under this false assumption about carbs, so I gently and patiently explain to them that carbs only make you fat if you eat them in a way that places your body in a calorie surplus. If you have your carbs balanced with your proteins, fats, and according to your total daily energy expenditure, carbs in the triple digits will not only still allow you to lose weight but also do so in a healthy way.

Carbs fuel your body and are your body’s preferred and primary fuel source.

To achieve weight loss you have to be in a calorie deficit. To really generalize it I’ve found quality determines your health and quantity determines your size. It’s a both/and equation not an either/or. A safe, yet sensible calorie deficit is the key to sustainable weight loss.

There are, of course, countless other myths. Ever heard the popular myth that egg yolks are bad for you? How about eating fruit makes you fat?

Question: What nutrition myths have you encountered the most? What nutrition “truths” are you still unsure about?

Ted Kallmyer is an ISSA certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition and is our lead macro coach. If you need help reaching your weight loss/fitness goals see our personal coaching options.
Last Updated: October 17, 2019

9 Comments

  1. John

    Some think that you would know your calorie deficit by simply counting calories. Sorry dude! There are too many things happening in our body to do that.

    Reply
  2. Daniel Wagle

    I agree with Spectra. I exercised a lot to lose weight. Of course a person can’t continue to consume 9000 calories a day and still be able to exercise their weight off, but 1200 calories a day is unnecessary, esp. if a person exercises a lot. At one time, I would exercise a lot, but still cut my calorie consumption way down. I know one older woman who lost weight by doing a lot of exercise, but she insisted she also needed to consume 1000 calories a day. I thought that was too few, given her activity level. Needless to say, she gained her weight back. Cutting calories so much is very unsustainable and that is why many people regain weight. As far as fat and carbs are concerned, I eat both of them in abundance, although not without limit. I eat lots of nuts and seeds, but also legumes and whole grains and fruit. Fat from nuts, seeds and fish is healthy. Processed fats and fat from red meat, full fat dairy is not so much. Likewise, resistant starches from legumes and whole grains are much better than refined carbs. It is good to eat fat from nuts and seeds and carbs from whole grains and legumes, as well as from starchy vegetables and fruit. Doing a lot of exercise makes excessive restriction of either fat or carbs unnecessary.

    Reply
    • spectra311

      I know so many people who go on these super-restrictive diets and they lose maybe 2 lbs and then the weight loss stops. It’s because they aren’t eating nearly enough calories. Once they up their intake to about 1600 or so, the weight starts coming off. Your body knows when it’s being starved.

      Reply
    • Dan Bolton

      Great thoughts!

      Sounds like you know the right way 🙂
      What do you enjoy doing for exercise, Daniel?

      Reply
      • Daniel Wagle

        I bicycle to work and on my off days. I often go on brisk walks with my roommate as well.

        Reply
  3. spectra311

    One of the biggest myths I still hear out there is that you need to eat 1200 calories a day to lose weight. It makes me want to rip my hair out–that is barely enough to survive on when you’re in a coma. In order to lose weight and NOT feel like garbage and make your body think its starving, you need to figure out your own personal BMR and then determine how many calories you need to maintain. Then cut back by 500 calories a day to lose about a pound a week. When you cut your calories to 1200 a day, you usually get too hungry and it’s just too restrictive for the majority of people who need to lose weight.

    Reply
    • Dan Bolton

      Totally agree, Spectra. Crash dieting is a very real problem and, in the long run, causes many more problems than it solves – The least of which being regaining all the weight you’ve lost (and then some) when you go back to eating “normal”

      Reply
  4. Dennis

    i will give you one. The myth we eat when we are thirsty. The fact is we drink when we are hungry. ever tried drinking a pint of h2o on a big meal. have a pint of water if you are hungry 10 minutes later you can eat a load. bottled water industry might not like this

    Reply
    • Dan Bolton

      Thanks for sharing, Dennis. There are plenty of myths out there that need busting!

      Reply