11 Nutrition Myths that Cause Weight Gain
“While various research shows that vegetarians and vegans, on average, consume fewer calories and less fat than omnivores (a 2009 Oxford study found that vegetarians weigh 3 to 20 percent less than their meat-eating counterparts, and a National Cancer Institute study found that subjects who consumed four ounces or more of red meat weekly were 30 percent more likely to die of any cause than those who ate less), these numbers may be misleading,” says Rania Batayneh, MPH, a certified nutritionist and owner of Essential Nutrition for You.
Going vegan solely for weight loss can backfire, big time. If you aren’t vigilant with a vegan diet, it’s easy to lack in vital nutrients, vitamins, and proteins, which give you energy and help keep your metabolism stoked. Many first-time vegans may also find themselves reaching for more processed foods like vegan cookies, chips, or even ‘ice cream’ more often with such a restricted diet, and many end up packing on the pounds instead.
If you do decide to adopt a vegan diet, be sure to keep the ‘treats’ to a minimum and plan balanced meals. “Aim to get about 10 to 20 percent of your calories from protein (or about 1 gram per kilogram of body weight), replacing animal protein with healthy plant proteins, like those found in beans, legumes, eggs, nuts, seeds, low-fat dairy, and soy products,” Batayneh says. “And, whether you are vegan or not, eating more green, leafy vegetables is great for your health and your waistline.”
2. Cut all carbs to shed pounds. Your body needs ‘carbs’ for energy, and many carbohydrate foods are rich in essential vitamins, nutrients, and dietary fiber that help you stay full and fuel your workouts. “Eliminating carbohydrates not only reduces whole grains, B vitamins, and a good source of fiber, but it also reduces your body’s feel-good capacity (it’s no wonder that most comfort foods are carbohydrate based),” Batayneh says.
Plus, cutting out food groups may only make you crave them more, and you may find yourself finishing off an entire bag of chips in a moment of weakness. “Starches and carbs are actually an important tool in weight management,” Batayneh says. “They provide belly-filling fiber, complex carbohydrates to keep your engine running all day, and they stimulate the production of serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter that regulates mood.”
Stay healthy, full, and happy while dropping the lbs. by swapping out processed carbs for fiber- and nutrition-filled foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
3. Diet drinks are a good way to cut calories. You may think you’re doing yourself a favor by sipping artificially sweetened drinks, but recent research says you may just be setting yourself up to crave sweets even more. ‘Fake’ sugar can trick our bodies, since we aren’t actually providing it with any calories to back up the sweetness, causing a vicious cycle of cravings. “Artificial sweeteners tend to trigger your appetite-making you want more and more sugar-but without actually satisfying a desire for sweets like normal sugar does,” Batayneh says. “Diet soda-drinkers may end up eating tons of sugary and fatty snacks in order to satisfy their cravings.”
Case in point: One University of Texas study found that people who drink diet soda regularly (more than two per day) had a 70 percent greater waist circumference than those that don’t. Not to mention, diet sodas are also often loaded with additives, including caramel coloring, which is made by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites, resulting in two compounds that have been found to cause lung, liver, and thyroid cancers in mice, Batayneh says.
4. Fat-free snacks are better for your waistline. “Reduced-fat versions of snacks typically have been stripped of one quarter of their original healthy monounsaturated fats, and to replace that flavor, the brand adds in fillings, additives, and sugar-all for the same amount of calories,” Batayneh says. “Picking reduced-fat products may even end up hurting your waistline: in one study, average-weight participants ate 22 percent more calories if the food was labeled ‘low fat’ and overweight participants ate up to 50 percent more.”
Your body needs fat to absorb vitamins, and it may also help you shed pounds-a recent Stanford University study found that people on a moderate-fat diet lost twice as much weight as subjects eating a low fat diet.
So skip the highly processed, fat-free snacks that are basically empty calories and fill up on healthy, whole foods that will help you stay satisfied on a lower-calorie diet such as avocados, nuts, and coconuts.
5. Fruit has too much sugar to be healthy for weight loss. With all the sugar that is added to processed foods, the sugar in fruit is the least of your worries. Getting rid of fruit means you are losing out on valuable vitamins and nutrients that your body absorbs easily since they’re found in their natural, whole state.
“Eliminating fruit from your diet when trying to lose weight makes no sense,” Batayneh says. You’ll miss out on a whole lot of filling fiber, which studies have directly linked to long-term weight loss, and you may be more likely to reach for other processed, empty food items instead.
6. Protein shakes will help you lose weight. Drinking protein shakes alone can’t help you lose weight, but replacing a meal with them could. The trouble is, many would-be dieters make the mistake of adding in a shake to their current daily intake, which can pack on the pounds (this is why bodybuilders trying to gain size use them often).
If you want to add protein shakes to your diet, look for a mix that is low in sugar and has a short ingredient list. Depending on the calorie count, and what you add to it (Batayneh recommends whey protein, milk, and fruit), you can substitute a shake for a snack or a meal to help move the scale down, not up.
7. A high-protein diet is the best way to shed fat. While protein is important for weight loss, eliminating other food groups (like carbs) for the sake of eating more protein could be setting you up for a carbo-loading binge later. Plus, you may be missing out on the fiber, vitamins, and minerals found in unprocessedcarbohydrates, and you run the risk of eating too much fat in your diet, which can lead to high cholesterol and triglycerides, Batayneh says.
Skip the yo-yo cycle and round out your meals with a healthy balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. “When you have all three macro-nutrients in your diet, you are less likely to feel deprived and may experience less cravings.”
8. Swear off all your favorite fattening foods to lose weight. Anyone who has ever sworn off pizza, chocolate, or chips knows that as soon as you tell yourself you can’t have them, you start dreaming of swimming in gooey, cheesy pizza or rich, dark chocolate cake. “Moderation is key. We tend to be in ‘all or nothing’ mode when we diet. And while you can’t have pizza, french fries, and chocolate cake all in the same day, with careful planning, you can still enjoy them in moderation,” Batayneh says. Have your cake, and eat it too-just share it with a friend or save the other half for another day.
9. Eating after 8 p.m. makes you fat. Eating after a certain hour won’t necessarily mean you’ll pack on pounds, just as staying out after midnight won’t turn you into a pumpkin. This Cinderella-esque fat fairy tale continues to exist, but the bottom line is that your metabolism doesn’t know what time it is, Batayneh says.
Skip the mad rush to consume as much food as you can before the clock strikes 8:00.
“Calories are calories, no matter when you eat them, but what does matter is what and how much of it you eat. Late-night snacking gets a bad rap because often the foods that are consumed late at night are calorie-dense foods (chips, ice cream, pizza, and other junk food) and may be in excess calories to your daily caloric needs, which translates to weight gain.”
10. You’ll burn more fat if you don’t eat before a workout. Exercise normally burns away your glycogen (carbohydrate) reserves, and when you’re done burning those, you’ll start dipping into your fat stores for energy. It’s true that when you’re already running on empty, you burn fat right away, but you’ll likely run out of steam before your workout is over or end up ravenous and grabbing whatever food you can find in an attempt to refuel afterwards, Batayneh says.
“Energy comes from calories. A study from the University of Birmingham compared two groups of cyclists-some ate before their workout and the others fasted. While the group who fasted did end up burning more fat, the group who ate cycled at a much higher intensity than the fasting group, and burned more calories. A person needs fuel to run, just like a car, so find the foods that give you the energy to work out at your hardest.”
RELATED: 11 Ways to Rev Up Your Metabolism
11. You can eat whatever you want on weekends. If you do the math, eating ‘whatever you want’ Friday-Sunday adds up to 12 days-or almost half of a 30-day month! Not exactly the recipe for weight losssuccess. “When you throw caution to the wind on the weekends it can actually offset the consistency and success you had all week,” Batayneh says. Instead of taking a no-holds-barred approach to your weekends, Batayneh recommends trying to scale back the little things that really add up like the bread basket and having a few extra glasses of wine during dinners out, along with mindless munching out of boredom.
10 Ways to Ditch Your Cravings for Sugar, Salt, and Fats
Posted: 08/13/2013 8:55 am
According to a recent article in the New York Times, “Food Corporations Turn to Chefs in a Quest for Healthy Flavor,” Big Food companies like PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, and even fast food giants like Taco Bell are changing their ways in response to the increasing public demand for healthier food options. To improve their image as healthy food manufacturers, Big Food corporations have called upon top chefs to help them create healthy menu makeovers, infusing real, fresh, whole food into old recipe favorites.
Why is this happening now? Intense pressure brought on by politicians and their constituents (you and me!) has given these food manufacturers no choice but to respond to the public outcry for healthier food. It’s no longer enough for these companies to earn a profit by selling food that tastes good. People are beginning to use the power of the pocketbook to show these companies that the food they sell must also be nutritious.
That’s because people everywhere are waking up. They are beginning to see the dangers of genetically-modified ingredients and all the sugar, salt, and fats hidden in our food supply. From fancy restaurants to fast food chains, chefs are catching on that people want their food to make them feel good, not just while they are eating it but hours, days, and years afterward.
Really, this news shouldn’t make the headlines. This is common sense! Paying for food that makes us sick is as crazy as shooting ourselves in the foot. It just doesn’t make sense.
Big Food is finally getting the message and getting on board.
But remember, no processed or fast food option will ever be better than a healthy home-cooked meal. The best way to ensure you are eating the highest quality, most nutritious food possible is to prepare your own food in your own kitchen. We are all chefs. You don’t have to be trained at Le Cordon Bleu to know your way around a kitchen. You just need a little knowledge, some imagination, and a sense of adventure.
A desire for real food is a fundamental part of our basic biological blueprint. Given the chance, our taste receptors will naturally gravitate toward the inherent sweetness found in vegetables, fruits, and even nuts and seeds.
So, how do you reprogram your taste buds to ditch the cravings for sugar, salt, and fats? You can start by eating real, fresh, whole foods. Avoid fake, commercialized foods that come in convenience packages or are made in a lab.
Here are 10 more tips to get you excited about ditching the sugar, salt, and fats:
- Sauté or roast your veggies to bring out their natural sweetness. Properly searing your chicken or meat brings out the inherent sweetness by way of the Maillard reaction. This is a fancy name for what happens when you create that nice, brown crust on your meat.
- Play with herbs like cilantro, parsley, dill, basil, and oregano to add flavor and phytonutrients! Finish a meal by adding fresh herbs before plating or serving. This last-minute addition kicks the flavor up a notch!
- Healthy fats found in avocado, coconut, and tahini not only increase the flavor of your meal, they also add that creamy, luscious texture found in many rich foods.
- Try creating a savory, umami (Japanese for “delicious”) flavor. Add moderate amounts of tamari, umeboshi plum paste, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, dried mushroom, or sea vegetables to your next stew, soup, sauce, or stir-fry.
- Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, clove, ginger, and even cayenne or chipotle pepper powder are all extremely flavorful additions to a meal. Spices like these excite your taste buds and grab your attention. This is helpful, because, as studies show, when we are focused on actually tasting our food rather than mindlessly gobbling it up, we actually need less food to feel satisfied.
- Befriend some kitchen must-haves like real vanilla extract or vanilla bean or coconut butter. Or use common, every-day foods like lemons in some creative ways. For example, use lemon zest to add real zing to any meal!
- For the most flavor, eat seasonally and locally. Canned or packaged foods or foods that have traveled great distances in the back of a truck just can’t compare to the succulence of a fresh piece of locally grown fruit.
- Check your hydration. Digestion starts in your mouth with your saliva, which helps us taste all the magnificent flavor in food. If you are dehydrated and not producing enough saliva, you won’t really be able to enjoy your food.
- Check your medications. Believe it or not, most medications interfere with the body’s ability to taste and smell. Some of them can even create an unpleasant metallic taste in the mouth. Wondering how you might decrease the number of pills you take? Learn more about functional medicine.
- Got nutrition? Nutrient deficiency is an important cause of improper taste perception. A lack of certain vitamins and minerals can markedly impair your ability to smell and taste food. Most Americans have several nutrient deficiencies, but there is one in particular that can especially keep you from enjoying your next meal: zinc. Try adding foods like oysters, pecans, sunflower seeds, and lentils to increase your daily intake of this important mineral.
1. NEVER skip meals!! If you do, you will overeat your next meal. Even if that meal is healthy food (as it damn well should be) it doesn’t matter if you eat too much of it. Try to stay full with veggies and water.
2. Empty stomach cardio in the morning is optimal because insulin levels are very low, yet hormone sensitive lipase (the fat releasing enzyme) is fully active while lipoprotein lipase (the fat storing enzyme) is still asleep! GH (growth hormone, an immensely powerful fat burner) is still coming off its overnight high. At this time there is less blood glucose in your blood to be burned (versus after having just eaten a meal), leaving fats as the number one option for your body to burn as fuel.
3. Do NOT consume carbs when you don’t need them! The best times to eat large portions of carbs is first thing in the morning (after cardio!!) and after your workouts-you can be sure it will be put to use, then burned off. Consume no more than 25-35 grams in other meals if you must have more carbs due to your job or lifestyle being very active. And be sure to make them high fiber carbs (veggies). Give yourself the proper carb fuel to get the day started, get through a workout and recover from a workout. Thats all you need so any other carbs should be trace carbs found in small amounts.
4. Do not consume large amounts of fat and carbs together. Carbs of any kind will release insulin (high GI more so than low GI), which acts to store anything in your bloodstream. Fats normally get booted to storage since they don’t need chemical processing or active transport to become bodyfat. Additionally, the body prefers to use carbs (glucose) for energy. So don’t eat them together in large amounts (although that should be obvious!!) A few grams of healthy fat with complex carbs are okay (about 15 grams of fat for every 50 grams of carbs), assuming you always eat PROTEIN at each and every meal!
5. Supplement with fish oils. These healthy fats increase your sensitivity to carbs (the opposite of diabetes), allowing your body to burn more, rather than store more. They also assist with fat loss via PPAR-delta (a mitochondrial activator found in muscle) stimulation. If all you are seeing at this point is blabla..PPAR…blablabla then focus: FISH OIL= FAT LOSS. Try 3 to 6 grams daily. 65. Before bed, eat 1/2 to 1 cup of low-fat or fat-free greek yogurt or casein protein powder to fight late night cravings and give your body some slow-digesting protein to breakdown and use during the night. No it will not get stored as fat!! Your body does not just shut off the digestive system at night.
6. Eat citrus fruits since they are acidic and raise insulin levels less than most typical fruits (except for pineapple). Plus, they contain flavonoids such as naringin, found in oranges and grapefruit, which aid in fat loss by extending caffeine’s effects. Kiwi, mango, and strawberries are other good choices for citrus fruits.
7. Before bed : Eat 1/2 to 1 cup of low-fat or fat-free greek yogurt or casein protein powder to fight late night hunger cravings and give your body some slow-digesting protein to breakdown and use during the night. No it won’t get stored as fat!! Your body does not just turn off its digestive system at night. If calories are controlled during the day and exercise is intense enough, you will process and use foods even like this during the night.
8. Maintain some form of weight training at least 3 times a week or else your body will have no reason to hold lean muscle. Too much cardio and no weights equals a soft skeleton body (SKINNY FAT!!) in no time.
9. Re-Feed :If you really feel like you are hungry all the time and weight loss is not progressing, a “refeed” may be in order. Refeeds are more effective than the infamous cheat meals (which many turn into cheat days, then cheat nights, etc..) at kick starting your metabolism. Refeeds are a SINGLE MEAL, high in slow and medium-digesting carbs, eaten before bed. This tricks your body into sucking up carbs all night long, causing it to blunt any hint of starvation or metabolic slow down. The powerful thyroid hormone T3, leptin, and other hormones related to hunger and metabolic rate go through the roof because of the overnight presence of insulin (you won’t store much at all IF your diet has been spot on all week long). This does have a limit however. Remember- this technique is meant ONLY for those that have eaten at least 90% clean all week!!
10. If you are going to use a fat burning supplement, look for one with the right ingredients, take before cardio, and remember- YOU MUST DO CARDIO for any type of fat burner to be effective! There is still no MAGIC PILL!! Ingredients to look for:
Caffeine – a PDE inhibitor and known fat loss mobilizer
Yohimbine HCL – an alpha 2 adrenergic antagonist *Not for those with high BP
Green Tea Extract – inhibits the breakdown of norepinephrine
Synephrine aka Bitter Orange – similar to caffeine without the jittery side effects
L-Carnithine – acts as a fatty acid transporter to burn fat
Capsaicin– the chemical in chili peppers that elevates your metabolism
Guggulsterones– a thyroid stimulator that helps this gland pick up iodine from the blood