Trying to stay fit and healthy can be an exhausting task with the amount of information available on nutrition. With social media giving voice to so-called health gurus, it’s difficult deciphering what’s legitimate and what’s just another marketing ploy.
From boycotting carbs to banning red meat, here are some common weight loss myths and a dietitian’s advice on how to eat a balanced diet.
1. Avoid eating eggs: false
Eggs have had a bad rap in recent years due to their cholesterol content. But in fact, the dietary cholesterol in eggs has only a small effect on LDL (bad) cholesterol. Saturated and trans fats in food cause a much greater increase in LDL cholesterol.
“The National Heart Foundation recommends that you can enjoy up to 6 eggs a week as part of a healthy balanced diet that is low in saturated fat,” says Annie Hewitt APD (Accredited Practising Dietitian).
Eggs are also packed with protein and when eaten at breakfast, helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer throughout the day.
2. Eat less red meat: true
Red meat has been blamed for causing heart disease and other illnesses due to their saturated fat content. However, lean cuts of red meat such as eye round roast and steak, round steak and sirloin tip roast offers a great source of protein, iron, zinc and vitamins especially B12.
While you can also get iron from plant based foods, it’s much easier for our bodies to absorb the iron from animal products. An iron deficiency can cause chronic fatigue and make it more difficult to stay physically active and fit.
However, it is important to moderate your red meat consumption. “Research shows that consumption of greater than 120g per day of cooked red meat, which is more than double the recommended amount, is associated with an increased risk of colorectal (bowel) cancer,” Hewitt warns. “The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend up to 455g cooked lean red meat per week (which is equivalent to one 65g serve per day).”
“The National Heart Foundation recommends that you can enjoy up to 6 eggs a week as part of a healthy balanced diet that is low in saturated fat.”
3. Choose “low fat” options: false
When it comes to foods such as cheese, yoghurt, milk or crackers, it’s tempting to choose the “99 per cent fat free” options because we’re trained to think fats are bad.
However, they’re often just as energy-dense if not more so than their full fat counterparts due to the high amounts of sugar (and salt) added to make them tastier. The hidden sugar can cause your blood sugar levels to spike, giving that “sugar high” feeling followed by a slump of energy and increased cravings for more sugary food.
4. Stop eating carbs
The truth is not all carbohydrates are equal. Refined and processed carbohydrates like white bread and white rice have a higher glycemic index (GI), causing your blood sugar to spike. Healthier options such as whole grain breads and brown rice produce a slower, lower rise in blood sugar levels, which can hep to control appetite and assist with weight management.
Hewitt adds that low GI carbohydrates are “an important source of energy for the body while also being high in dietary fibre and a good source of prebiotics, which are essential for a healthy digestive tract.”
“The Australian Dietary Guidelines are designed for healthy populations and suggest people consume from 45 per cent to 65 per cent of their total energy intake from carbohydrate foods,” Hewitt explains. Whole grain foods, vegetables, legumes, fruit and low fat natural milk and yoghurt are the best choices.
5. Go on a juice cleanse: false
“Juice cleanses and detox diets often claim to flush toxins from your body leading to more energy and rapid weight loss,” says Hewitt. “They often involve fasting and encourage severe restriction of whole food groups like whole grains, dairy and meat.”
“Excluding whole food groups compromises the nutritional adequacy of your diet, which can be dangerous, especially for children, adolescents, pregnant or breastfeeding women and older adults.”
According to the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA), there is no scientific evidence to suggest our bodies need ‘help’ to remove these toxins.