The following diet myth-busters are based on LUNA’s Debunking the Diet video series. It you haven’t seen it, you should check it out here.
Full disclaimer: We work with LUNA. But, we loved them even before they hired us to be a part of their nutrition team.
Myth #1: Eating fat makes you fat.
The Truth: Your body needs fat! Fats are necessary to help our bodies absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), and are building-blocks for every cell in our body, even helping us have glowing skin and healthy hair. Fat is also satiating! When we eat fat, it sends a signal to our brain that says, “I’m full. I’m satisfied.” Eating a little fat with our meals can actually help us eat less, overall. And even better, fat tastes good! Some fats are better than others, like avocados, extra virgin olive oil, and nuts and seeds. But, it’s all about balance. So, don’t be afraid of buttering your toast. When you’re eating foods higher in fat, just choose smaller portion sizes.
Myth #2: Eating carbs makes you fat.
The Truth: Your body needs carbs! In the body, carbohydrates are converted directly to glucose, which is the best form of fuel for your body and the only fuel used by your brain. Your brain alone needs about 500 - 600 calories of glucose daily to function. Anytime we give up a whole food group, we’re likely to crave it and overeat in the long run. Balance is key. Most of the time, choose whole, intact carbohydrates, like whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables. These are high in fiber, filled with phytonutrients, and satisfying!
Myth #3: Snacking makes you fat.
The Truth: Smart snacking is good for us! Eating regularly throughout the day ensures you don’t get too hungry, tired, or cranky before your next meal. Snacking actually helps prevent us from overeating later in the day. Just think of them as many meals, with the same combination of protein, fat, carbohydrates and fiber. Also, take the time to enjoy your snacks! Give yourself a few minutes to sit and savor what you’re eating. Your body—and your soul—will think you!
Myth #4: Fasting is the best way to lose weight.
The Truth: Dieting—especially fasting, or skipping meals—is stressful and tends to raise cortisol levels contributing to higher rate of weight regain, depression, and upper body obesity. Instead of fasting, eat small portions of healthy foods regularly throughout the day. The best eating plan is to eat frequent small meals and snacks with a little protein, fat, carbohydrate and fiber, to give you energy and keep you satisfied from morning ‘til night!
Myth #4: Eating after 8 p.m. makes you gain weight.
The Truth: Your body doesn’t care what time it is. If you’re really listening to your body, and learning to understand when you’re really hungry—or when you’re just bored, tired, angry, happy, or some other emotions—then when to eat will take care of itself. What’s important is the total number of calories that we take in over the course of the day. Our bodies don’t care if we eat at 6 pm or 10 pm, as long as the total calories we take in doesn’t exceed our needs. So, calories count, the clock doesn’t. So, really what we should be focusing on is practicing moderation, not deprivation. If you have a late dinner, that’s totally fine. And if you need a snack before bed, that’s fine, too. Stop watching the clock, and eat when you’re hungry.