Top 5 Nutrition and Weight-loss Myths Debunked

When you want to lose weight, and your appearance, rather than your overall health, is the driving force, you may look to “gimmicks” that have helped other people effectively lose weight in a short amount of time. But quick-fixes, especially when it comes to nutrition, aren’t always best, according to experts.

To find the most effective and healthiest ways to lose weight, we asked registered dietitian Cathy Clark-Reyes, of Baptist Health Primary Care, to share the top five myths that she most often encounters when patients come to her seeking to lose weight through changes to their eating habits.

Myth #1 – Eat Every Three Hours

Ms. Clark-Reyes, a certified diabetes educator, admits there’s good thinking behind this myth. “If you prevent yourself from having erratic blood sugar levels, signaling hunger, you’re less likely to overeat,” she said. But, she warns that often people will overeat at each of those meals or snacks, leading to weight gain rather than weight loss. Some may also eat when they aren’t really hungry, failing to heed their true hunger cues.

Instead, she suggests avoiding going more than five “awake” hours between meals. “Most people can make it between breakfast and lunch,” she said. “It’s that period between lunch and dinner when we tend to get hungriest.”

She recommends reaching for a piece of fruit, a serving of raw vegetables or a handful of nuts before leaving work to cut down on the likelihood of binge eating when you get home or overeating for dinner.

Myth #2 – Eating Fat Makes You Fat

“This is the oldest – and most prevalent – myth I hear from my patients,” Ms. Clark-Reyes said. “Our bodies need fat to function properly.”

Fat, she says, has gotten a bad reputation from its saturated and trans varieties, but polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are beneficial to our bodies.

“These heart-healthy fats help us feel fuller for longer periods of time because they slow our digestion,” she said. Sources of these healthy fats include nuts and nut butters, avocadoes and fish, such as salmon, which is rich with Omega-3 fatty acids.

Portion control is key to eating healthy fats, Ms. Clark-Reyes warns, because these foods often have a higher number of calories. “One serving of nuts is ¼ cup,” she said. “That’s about 24 almonds, 18 cashews or 47 pistachios.” And even natural varieties of nut butters may contain added sugar, so read the labels to avoid these hidden contributors to weight gain.

Myth #3 – Meal Replacement Bars and Shakes Help You Lose Weight

It’s hard to resist a chocolate shake or snack bar that claims to contain all of your daily nutrition in one delicious serving, but Ms. Clark-Reyes says to avoid falling into this marketing trap that may actually contribute to weight gain in the long run.

“If you’re strapped for time and need an on-the-go meal, many of these products – made for athletes – can fulfill some of your nutritional needs,” she said. “But pay attention to the ingredients, avoiding brands with artificial additives and sugar that help them taste better.”

These products, if used to replace an 800-calorie meal, will facilitate weight loss, Ms. Clark-Reyes admits, because they generally have 150-200 calories per serving and fewer calories lead to weight-loss. Yet, because a person hasn’t learned to eat properly, as soon as he or she stops that calorie reduction, the weight comes back.

Myth #4 – Count Calories

Speaking of calories, Ms. Clark-Reyes has seen a lot of people tracking their daily calories using helpful calorie-counting apps on their mobile devices and smart phones. Overall, she applauds this trend for the accountability it creates for people who want to reach a healthier weight. But, she warns not all calories are created equal.

“A 500-calorie muffin from the coffee shop isn’t the same as a 500-calorie breakfast of eggs, fruit and oatmeal,” she said.  “Be sure you’re opting for nutrient-rich calories that your body needs. Otherwise, you’ll eat that muffin and still crave more food to make up for the missing nutrients.”

Myth #5 – Cut Out Carbohydrates

Like calories, Ms. Clark-Reyes says that not all carbs are created equal either.  “Our brains and central nervous system need carbohydrates to function,” she said. “It’s too difficult for our bodies to process other nutrients into the carbs they need, so when we rob them of those carbohydrates, we’re robbing them of other nutrients as well.”

Instead of eliminating carbs from our diets, Ms. Clark-Reyes suggests choosing better options. “Fruits, veggies, beans and sweet potatoes all provide the carbohydrates our bodies need, along with other nutrients, too,” she said.

Perhaps a better way to make this myth truthful is to reduce or eliminate added sugars and processed starches, which the body often converts to sugar and stores as fat.

‘Keep It Simple’

So how do you avoid all the weight-loss gimmicks and focus on eating healthier for a healthier body weight? Ms. Clark-Reyes offers these words of advice: “Keep food choices simple; keep them whole and as nature intended,” she said. “Avoid ingredients you can’t pronounce or don’t know what they are, watch your portion size and balance your food consumption with physical activity.”

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

Language Preference / Preferencia de idioma

I want to see the site in English

Continue In English

Quiero ver el sitio en Español

Continuar en español