In our always connected world, we are constantly overwhelmed with health and diet information. With everyone from Dr. Oz to your next door neighbors claiming to be an expert in nutrition, it is easy to become overloaded with information. While it is good that we are able to easily access health information, it should be taken into consideration that some it may not be true. Here are the four most common diet myths that have been debunked.
1. Eating after 8pm will make you gain weight.
Truth: It does not matter at what time of day that you eat far less for eating after 8pm. This is because when it comes to losing weight the only thing that matters is a number of calories that are consumed and the total amount of calories that are burned. If you are eating more calories than you are burning, then you will end up gaining weight, no matter time of day the calories were consumed. Your body is always burning calories, even while you are sleeping, which is further proof that eating food late at night will not stick around any more than food that was eaten throughout the day.
But, there are many people who tend to overeat at night, because they are bored or stressed out. If you discover that you are a night eater, it might be a good idea to set a time limit for not eating past a specific time. This method could help you to not exceed your overall calorie requirement. Next time you find yourself reaching for a late snack ask yourself, I am truly hungry to just bored.
2. Is brown sugar healthier than white sugar?
Truth: The question of is brown sugar healthier than white sugar is quite simple. Brown sugar that comes from the grocery store is actually just white granulated sugar that has molasses mixed into it. Even with the added molasses, brown sugar contains the same amount of calories as white sugar. Likewise, there are no real health benefits of substituting maple sugar or honey for white sugar. Honey can be useful to help to soothe a sore throat, but that’s an entirely different topic. Brown sugar, pure maple syrup, and honey all have trace amounts of minerals in them. But unless you are drinking a whole cup of maple syrup or honey, not a recommended choice, the number of minerals are insignificant.
By the Numbers:
- 1 cup of white granulated sugar = 773 calories, 200 grams sugar
- 1 cup of brown sugar = 836 calories, 213 grams sugar
- 1 cup pure maple syrup = 819 calories, 214 grams sugar
- 1 cup of honey = 1031 calories, 278 grams sugar
As you can see the number of calories and sugar content of the first three products are very similar to each other. Honey, on the other hand, exceeds white sugar by over 200 calories. Honey tends to be sweeter than white sugar so it is possible that you can use a smaller amount of honey and still get the same amount of sweetness.
3. Avoid carbs to lose weight?
Truth: If you avoid carbs to lose weight it will in fact initially cause you to lose weight, but only because you are losing water weight. When you start to reduce your carb intake, your body will burn glycogen instead of glucose. Glycogen, the storage form of glucose, holds a large amount of water, which means that for the first few weeks you could see a drop in weight that is due to water loss. If, after those first few weeks, you are still losing weight it is because you are also reducing your overall calorie intake. The weight loss still does not have anything to do with cutting carbs.
If it works, then why not do it?
Carbohydrates are an important part of a well-balanced diet, are a good source of fiber, and also provides essentials vitamins and minerals. They are also the main energy source when you are exercising. Carbs are found in fruits, vegetables, grains, and milk products. Choosing to eat smaller portions of carbs is okay rather than choosing to avoid carbs to lose weight, eliminating carbs all together could lead to nutrient deficiencies.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics say that a well-balanced diet should contain 50-60% calories of carbs, while 25-30% of calories should come from fat, and 15-20% should come from protein. If you have diabetes it might be a good idea to lower a number of carbohydrates to 30-40% of calories.
4. Does too much sugar cause diabetes?
Truth: This is a common one. Does eating too much sugar cause diabetes? If you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, then you do need to watch your sugar and carbohydrate intake because this will help your ability to manage your blood glucose levels. On the other hand, if you do not have diabetes, then eating a large amount of sugar will not cause you to develop the disease. The main cause of Type II diabetes is being overweight, have a sedentary lifestyle, or having a family history of the disease. It is recommended that your diet should consist of a low to moderate amount of sugar because sugar contains no nutrients but has lots of calories. The American Heart Association recommends that women should consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar, and men should have no more than 9 teaspoons. Keep in mind that a soda contains around 9 teaspoons of sugar!