8 Diet Myths to Avoid in the New Year

Patient Expert
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One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. But each year people often sabotage their well-intended efforts due to misinformation and diet myths. Avoid these eight diet myths to help make your weight-loss resolutions a reality.

Negative-calorie foods

Foods high in fiber such as celery and citrus are often claimed to be “negative-calorie” foods, based on the presumption that the body uses more energy to digest them and burns more calories than in the food itself. The truth is, your body uses far less energy to digest high-fiber foods.

Muscle weighs more than fat

A pound of muscle and a pound of fat are, you guessed it, a pound! So they weigh exactly the same. Weight gain early into a fitness plan may be from inflammation as you build muscles, or building muscle faster than you’re losing fat. But since muscle is more dense than fat, it makes you look leaner. Muscle also increases your metabolic rate, burning 50 calories a day, whereas fat burns only two.

A diet is the best way to lose weight

Dieting, or following a prescriptive plan to eat fewer calories for a period of time, does result in weight loss, but only in the short term. Weight loss from dieting is only temporary, and regained once old eating habits are resumed. The best way to keep the extra weight off is finding a healthy lifestyle that you can maintain forever.

An entree salad is the low-calorie menu choice

Surprisingly, a salad can either be very healthy or very unhealthy. A rule to stick by is that the yummier the salad seems, the less healthy it is. A salad like Panera Bread’s Fuji Apple Chicken salad with only 580 calories may seem like a healthy choice, until you sit it next to a 440-calorie double cheeseburger from McDonalds. Watch out for toppings such as cheese, candied walnuts and sweet dressings.

Skipping meals speeds up weight loss

Contrary to the belief, not eating actually slows your metabolism. This can cause even more ravenous hunger which may drive you to overindulge later in the day. It’s best to keep your metabolism steady by eating a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner, all several hours apart.

"Lite" foods are better

"Lite" foods may have fewer calories and less fat, but also come with a sizeable increase in sodium, sugar, chemical additives and artificial sweeteners. For example, fat-free cream cheese has 15 calories less than the original, but 11 more grams of sodium - a major cause of bloating. Also, people will often eat more of a food if they believe it to be “lite,” consuming more calories than desired.

A gluten-free diet will help you lose weight

Gluten free diets are designed for people with Celiac disease - an autoimmune disorder in which the small intestine cannot digest gluten. But these diets are wrongly believed to be no-carb diets. Instead, gluten-free products like rice flour replace products with gluten-containing grains, such as wheat, rye and oats. All of these foods are still high in carbs, and some gluten desserts are even high in calories.

Over-the-counter diet pills help weight loss

In 2014, the Federal Trade Commission charged four weight-loss companies with fraud. HCG Diet Direct, Sensa Products, LeanSpa, and L’Occitane were all charged for using deceptive marketing practices. Many fraud companies come back in following years under a different name, so talk with a doctor about your options for pairing a safe weight loss medication with dietary and physical activity improvements.