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Top 10 Harmful Nutrition Myths

MYTH #1: Red meat is fattening.

FACTS: The truth is that there are good meats and then there are not-so-good meats, and there’s no reason to avoid the good stuff for fear of the bad. Different cuts of meat have different amounts of fat, and as long as you stick to the lower-fat variety, there’s no reason whatsoever to cut red meat out of your diet.

Red meat is actually a premium source of complete protein and high-quality iron, both of which are very beneficial to your health and wellbeing. Because the fat in red meat is generally higher in saturated fat and cholesterol however, it’s best to limit your intake to just once or twice a week if you have health issues with your heart, blood pressure, or cholesterol level.

The secret to successfully integrating red meat into your diet is to stick to the leaner cuts, such as eye round roast, top round steak, bottom round roast, and top sirloin. The same goes for mince – stick to the premium grade, low-fat variety. If you buy your red meat from the supermarket check the label for fat content – the leaner cuts will have less than 10% fat and less than 4% saturated fat.

Another excellent type of red meat you might want to consider is kangaroo steak, which is readily available here in Australia. With just 1.5% fat and 0.5% saturated fat, it’s by far the best type of red meat I’ve come across.

MYTH #2: Low-fat foods are best.

FACTS: The supermarket shelves are packed these days with no-fat, low-fat, and reduced-fat foods. This all began back in the 90’s when low-fat diets became all the rage. There are three important points to consider though before blindly jumping onto the low-fat bandwagon.

Firstly, your body actually needs fat – it’s an important dietary nutrient. Healthy, unsaturated fat is an important player in your body’s growth, cell production, vitamin-absorption, regulation of bodily functions, and even its fat-burning process.

Cutting these healthy fats out of your diet will actually have negative effects on your health and weight loss. It’s only the unhealthy, saturated and trans fats that you need to avoid.

Secondly, many foods can be labeled as being low-fat to divert your attention from the fact that they have a high sugar content. This means that despite being a low-fat food, they’re still unhealthy and high in calories.

And thirdly, when the fat content of a food is reduced it usually has implications as far as the food’s taste and palatability goes, so manufacturers will often add unhealthy, artificial ingredients such as flavorings and fillers to try to improve its taste and texture.

MYTH #3: If you exercise you can be more liberal with your diet.

FACTS: Many women grossly underestimate the effect of diet on weight loss, believing that exercise is what makes it all happen. Nothing could be further from the truth however.

It’s been said that weight loss is 70% diet and 30% exercise, and I believe this is pretty close to the mark. Exercise will rarely be enough to produce any significant weight loss if your diet isn’t good. Many women work hard in the gym, even 4 or more times each week, and yet still fail to see any results, simply because their diet is letting them down.

The very best strategy for fat loss is to combine healthy eating, a reduced calorie intake, and exercise. All these ingredients work together to produce an effective fat-loss strategy.

MYTH #4: The less calories you consume, the faster you’ll lose weight.

FACTS: On the surface of it, this makes sense. If you restrict your calorie intake, you lose weight, so the more you restrict, the better, right? Wrong!

Here’s the problem. While it’s true that the amount of fat you lose is in proportion to the size of your calorie deficit, another factor comes into the picture.

Whenever you restrict your calorie intake, your body responds by slowing down your metabolism. It does this to protect you. The downside to this is that it causes your fat-loss to slow down, since it reduces the amount of calories you burn each day.

Now, if your calorie restriction is moderate, there are a variety of strategies you can use to reduce, and even prevent, this slowing down of your metabolism. If it’s too big however, you won’t be able to do much about it. Your fat-loss will progressively slow down until it stalls altogether.

MYTH #5: Juices are great for fat-loss.

FACTS: Well, there actually is some truth to this one. Here’s the deal.

If it’s a question of substituting juices for sodas and other sugar drinks, then sure, it’s a good thing. Juices are filled with great nutrients and the sugars they contain are all natural. You should bear in mind however, that they still contain calories, so be sure to include them in your daily calorie count.

If juices are your way of getting your daily fruit and vegetable servings, on the other hand, then I’m afraid that’s not so good, for two reasons.

First of all, juices are nowhere near as filling as whole fruits and/or vegetables. And secondly, juicing fruits and vegetables, especially in a juicer, removes all of the valuable dietary fiber from the food. This problem can be overcome however by popping the fruits and/or vegetables into a blender and blending them. This way nothing is stripped out.

MYTH #6: Cholesterol is bad for you.

FACTS: The truth is there is good cholesterol (high density lipoprotein, or HDL) and bad cholesterol (low density lipoprotein, or LDL).

Bad cholesterol forms deposits that line and clog your arteries and contribute to heart disease. You need good cholesterol however, to build cells, make vital hormones, and transport cholesterol away from the arteries, back to the liver.

Saturated fats found in food like meat, cheese, cream, butter and processed pastries tend to raise bad cholesterol, whereas healthy, unsaturated fats such as vegetable oils, nuts and seeds tend to lower it.

MYTH #7: Giving up smoking causes weight gain.

FACTS: The fact is that only some people gain weight when they stop smoking. Others will stay the same or actually lose weight.

Nicotine does in fact increase your body’s metabolism, but its effect is only very small. It’s not the removal of nicotine therefore that leads to some people gaining weight, but rather the fact that they tend to replace cigarettes with comfort food. They basically replace one bad habit with another.

The truth is it’s far healthier to be an overweight non-smoker than continuing to lose weight for fear of putting on weight. Chewing sugar-free gum or snacking on vegetable strips is a good idea for helping you to avoid unhealthy, fattening snacks.

MYTH #8: Starches are fattening.

FACTS: Starches are your body’s premium source of carbohydrate energy and shouldn’t be avoided, whether or not you’re trying to lose weight. In fact, if you’re trying to lose fat most of your carbohydrate energy should come from starches.

There are basically 2 types of glycemic carbohydrates (carbohydrates that provide you with blood sugar energy) – starches and sugars. Of these, starches have a higher thermic effect, meaning your body burns more calories digesting and processing them. For this reason they’re the preferred choice of carbohydrates for fat loss.

Starches have undeservedly gained a bad reputation because they become high in calories when you eat them in large portion sizes or when you cover them with high-fat toppings like butter, sour cream, or mayonnaise.

It’s best to choose starchy foods that are also high in dietary fiber, such as whole grain bread, brown rice, oats, bran cereal, beans, peas, and vegetables.

MYTH #9: Certain foods, such grapefruit, celery, or cabbage soup, can cause you to burn fat.

FACTS: No foods actually cause you to burn fat. Some foods such as peppers or foods with caffeine may speed up your metabolism for a short time, but they will only have a very small effect and not really make any significant contribution to fat loss.

The best way to lose fat is to reduce your calorie intake and exercise, not look for foods that will magically do the job for you.

MYTH #10: Low carb diets are the best way to lose weight.

FACTS: Low carbohydrate diets force you to get most of your daily calories from proteins and fats. This may cause you to eat too much fat and cholesterol, which will increase your risk of heart disease, and too few fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, which can lead to constipation due to lack of dietary fiber.

Carbohydrates are actually your body’s premium source of fuel, and are essential for proper functioning and for being able to exercise effectively.

Eating less than 130 grams of carbohydrate a day can cause a buildup of ketones (partially broken-down fats) in your blood, which can lead to gout and kidney stones. Ketosis is especially risky for pregnant women and people with diabetes or kidney disease.

In addition, just as having too low a calorie intake can lead to a starvation response (slowing of your metabolism) by your body, so too can too few carbohydrates. While some individuals are particularly sensitive to carbohydrates and will therefore benefit from a lower intake, the majority of people will actually harm their fat loss by following such an unbalanced diet.

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Fabian Colussi is a women's Bikini and Figure competition coach for natural athletes, certified personal trainer and gym instructor, and women's fitness consultant. He also has a background in martial arts, is an NLP Master Practitioner, and has a certification in Hypnotherapy. Fabian is a co-owner and co-founder of Million Dollar Baby Fitness.

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  1. betty p.
    21 July, 2011

    thank you very useful information

  2. vivian s.
    22 July, 2011

    Fantastic nice ideas there.

  3. ellen m.
    24 July, 2011

    Nice post, this will help me a lot,thanks.


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