5 Common Misconceptions About Losing Weight and All Those Diets

Is your diet knowledge up to date on the latest studies?

Misconception #1: Cut down on 'sugar' abruptly.

The ideal amount of added or free sugar is 25 grams or six teaspoons a day for women and 37.5 grams or nine teaspoons a day for men. This may seem like a generous amount but if you check the nutrition labels on the back of your food packets, the numbers add up quickly. One and a half servings of breakfast cereal already contain 16 grams or four teaspoons of sugar. Since added sugar increases energy and reduces nutrient density in our diet, excessive intake contributes to weight gain and obesity.

What you can do is learn to identify the various names of sugar and cut down your consumption from there. Ironically, manufacturers like to sugarcoat the terms for sugar. Here are some of its names:

  • Caramel
  • Corn syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Invert sugar
  • Fruit juice
  • Muscovado
  • Barley
  • Malt
  • Castor syrup
  • Confectioner’s powder
  • Brown sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Maltose
  • Molasses
  • Nectar

The trick to effectively reducing your sugar intake is to gradually cut down on it instead of going cold turkey. If you halt consumption abruptly, the more you will crave it, and if you can’t help it, the more you will consume later. So, if you drink one bottle of soda a day, cut that amount in half. Try pouring the can in a glass filled with ice so you’re tricking yourself into thinking it’s still a whole glass but actually sugar consumption is lower.

Misconception #2: Artificial sweeteners are bad.

Artificial sweeteners are not unsafe. They have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after all. But like all things, keep them in moderation. Only up to 50 milligrams of aspartame per kilogram of body weight a day is safe to consume. Stevia is a better natural option.


Misconception #3: Low-fat is the way to go.

Rather than focusing on low-fat food, it’s more important to consider the sort of fat you are consuming and how you are preparing it.

When it comes to fat, what matters most is the type of fat that you eat. Contrary to dietary recommendations about low-fat diets, newer studies have shown that healthy fats are necessary and beneficial to our health. Rather than a low-fat diet it’s more important for us to focus on consuming fat from good sources. Limit “bad fat,” which includes trans fat and saturated fat. Although limiting this isn’t enough, you still need to control your fat intake.

Good fat yields the same amount of calories as bad fat. The fat in your diet should be around 20 to 25 percent of your total caloric intake per day. Good sources of fat include avocados, olives, nuts, almonds, pecans, cashews, peanut oil, cotton seed oil, sunflower oil, soy bean oil, salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout, sardines.

Also, instead of frying, you may try boiling, broiling, baking, or airfrying ingredients with fat.

Misconception #4: Carbs are the devil.

These diets are dangerous because they suggest that protein and fats can be eaten freely. Instead of focusing on carbs, focus on the sources of your carbohydrates. Fifty-five to 70 percent of your diet’s calories must come from carbohydrates. The ideal sources of carbohydrates include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Whole grains include quinoa, rolled oats, and brown rice. These grains provide you with energy and a significant amount of fiber. Fiber slows down carbohydrate digestion and glucose absorption.

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Misconception #5: This is enough fiber.

No, it's not enough. For a diet to be considered high fiber, you must consume 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day. Fiber helps with the early feeling of satiety, hence lowering your caloric consumption. There are two kinds of fiber: water insoluble, which comes from whole grains and is responsible for speeding up the elimination of waste in the body; and water soluble, which comes from fruits and vegetables and is effective in lowering blood. 

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Hannah Lazatin
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