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Debunking the myths about nutrition

By Andreia Bulhao
Columnist

It seems we are always being bombarded with advice about fitness and nutrition. People are constantly being told what to eat, when to eat it and why it’s important. But with such an endless flow of information, one can easily get misinformed about what truly is right for his or her body. Distinguishing what advice is really helpful and what is more of a “myth” can be difficult, but when you take the time to look into these false ideas, it makes keeping up with a healthy lifestyle much simpler. Here are four common myths about nutrition debunked.

Eating six small meals a day is better for you and can help you lose weight. This is a common piece of advice tossed around for those of us trying to shed a few extra pounds, but most of us aren’t aware of what this particular idea entails. Yes, it is true that consuming frequent small meals will cause your metabolism to increase, while helping you burn a few extra calories. However, it does not burn a significant amount that would directly help with weight loss or maintenance. More importantly, eating more throughout the day could increase your caloric intake when your meals are not planned out correctly, which could actually cause you to gain weight. With this in mind, remember that, although there is a grain of truth to this idea, you must carry it out correctly for it to be beneficial. Eating smaller portions frequently can be a strategy for staying in control and preventing overeating, but each meal must be planned out in a way that is favorable for you. Remember, eating more throughout the day is not better for you, it is just a different approach to controlling your food intake and won’t be the key to shedding those extra pounds. Find a method for controlling your appetite that works for you even if it isn’t eating six times a day.

Fat free foods are better for you. This can be true, but it depends on the product. Sometimes, taking fat out of foods can cause it to lose its signature flavor. This results in companies adding ingredients like sugar, high fructose corn syrup or aspartame to make sure these products still contain the same taste. In this case, be sure to read labels. Just because a product says “fat free” doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

Cleansing diets, such as “juicing” or fasting, are necessary to occasionally flush out toxins. It seems that the fad of cleanse dieting continues to be on the rise, with more and more people trying to find ways that will both rid their systems of toxins and help them lose weight. The truth is, these diets hurt you more than help you. In many cases, you’re depriving your body of the nutrients it needs in an effort to do something that it is already programmed to do. Your body is designed to remove toxins on its own using your kidneys, liver and spleen. Cleansing diets aren’t necessary, and they certainly do not make these organs function any better.

Weight loss is solely based on the calories you burn and consume. This is mostly true, but other things must be considered. We usually think that weight loss is a simple matter of what you burn vs. what you consume, but the truth is that different foods have different effects on our bodies. That plate of veggies can have the same calories as that serving size of chips, but they will affect your diet differently. So while thinking about how much you eat and burn is important, it is most important to consider what kind of calories you are eating, as well.

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