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Four Diet Myths Busted

1. Myth: Calories, Not Quality, Impact Weight

BlueberriesA University of Florida study found that people who consume more antioxidants such as pommegranate and blueberries, maintain lower BMIs, smaller waistlines, and lower body-fat percentages than those with lower intakes, even though both groups consumed about the same number of daily calories—a strong indication that the nutrients calories are bundled with play a key role in metabolism.

2. Myth: The Label Never Lies

almondA Harvard professor recently created a buzz when she spoke out about the shortcomings of the 100+ year old formula used to determine the calorie values many people rely upon. Turns out, based on further study, several foods actually contain less, because some components don’t get digested. Incomplete digestion means that rather than being absorbed into the body, where calories have to be burned, used, or stored, some simply travel through your digestive system, to become waste.

This type of analysis led to the recent insight that almonds supply about 30 percent fewer calories than the label states, while other foods may pack more than expected. In addition, many studies have shown that after ingestion, some foods, like ginger and chili pepper, or food patterns, like vegan diets, increase metabolic rate, triggering you to burn more calories.

3. Myth: Counting Calories Is A Surefire Strategy For Weight Loss

calorie countingIn a recent study from the University of California, San Francisco, scientists randomly assigned 121 women to one of four protocols. The first tracked their calories, keeping them to 1,200 a day. The second ate normally, but recorded the number of calories they consumed. The third ate 1,200 calories a day, but didn’t have to record them, and the fourth ate normally, without any calorie tracking.

Researchers found that when calories were limited, levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, rose. And calorie counting, even without limitations, also made the women more stressed. Cortisol is known to rev up appetite, spike cravings for fatty and sugary foods, and lead to an increase in belly fat, so causing it to surge surely isn’t a smart weight-control strategy.

4. Myth: All Calories Are Created Equal

weigh yourselfThere are three types of calories your body needs: Carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Because each performs a unique function, they aren’t interchangeable, so getting the right amount of each is important. For example, if you ate too few protein calories and too many carb calories, the jobs that proteins do wouldn’t get done, and the surplus carb calories would get sent straight to your fat cells.

This can result in weight gain, as well as the loss of muscle mass, dry, dull hair and skin, hormonal imbalances, and a weaker immune system. Too much or too little of all three calorie types can lead to unwanted side effects, so getting a certain number of daily calories, without regard to the type of food, just doesn’t make sense.

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