You Should Know – 8 Damaging Myths In The Dieting World

8 min read

Don’t Believe Most Things You Read

Welcome to a world of mystery, where fact and fiction meet and mingle. On the face of it, the diet’s a simple A to B. Caloric deficit, good protein, exercise. You’re on the road, and at some point you’re going to get there. But that’s been repeated ad nauseam, so instead people like to get creative.

Things can get unnecessarily complicated with the injections of pseudoscience and confirmation bias into weight-loss regimes. There are a lot of theories bandied about as people go about in their quest to find the perfect diet, using every last tool at their disposal to speed up fat loss. And it’s understandable, who wants to spend half a lifetime in the company of boiled chicken and dry rice? You drop the weight quick, then get the hell out of there.

However, some things just aren’t worth your time and money. Everyone’s using their turn on the pulpit to rave about their magic ingredient. Even me. These fancy theories don’t affect fat loss to any appreciable degree, and distract from the real factors at play. Forest for the trees, and such.

1 – Carbs / Fats / Protein makes you Fat

The Myth – You can easily find a person devoted to the belief that one of the macro trinity is the sole perpetrator of weight gain.

Captain Truth – This is one I’d to debunk right off the bat. The biggest issue is total calories. Someone might be more inclined to overeat on bread, but removing carbs doesn’t necessarily solve the equation. A, That’s a tricky mission to stick to. B, he can easily overeat on fats instead. Binge on any of them, and you might find yourself a little plumper. So focusing on total count is the best cure-all.

That being said, some foods are certainly worse than others, with major culprits being grains and seed oils. Processed foods, a combination of the two, is a blend of carbs and fats that turns off any satiety signals and primes the poor dieter for obesity. And going hard on soy protein can load you with an unhealthy level of phytoestrogens. So it would be unfair to point the finger of shame at one ingredient.

2 – Juice Detoxes

The Myth – Feeling groggy, depressed, heavy on the feet? Jump into a Juice-Cleanse! Raid the organic aisle and cram your findings through your juicer. If you can’t be arsed, here’s a stack of drinks to last you five days, an unmissable price. Wake up on the sixth day feeling energised right down to a cellular level, the world once more made your bitch.

Captain Truth – Don’t pay any attention to the juice-evangelists. There are a number of detoxifiers you can obtain a little easier, starting with the liver. And they happen to actually work. Whereas a juice detox is loaded with plant toxins like oxalates that come with nasty side effects.

The Hidden Dangers Of Plant Toxins


3 – More Meals To Burn More Fat

The Myth – So the theory is that dividing food into smaller meals spaced throughout the day, say every 2-3 hours, will ramp up fat mobilisation through the increase in Thermic Energy of Food (TEF). That’s basically the energy your body has to use to digest food. So more meals, more calories spent!

Captain Truth – Nope. There’s no research really backing this up. This study, comparing 2 meals a day with 5, found no difference in expenditure. Consider it debunked.

Another study, on similar parameters, saw hunger go up on infrequent meals, but fat burning increase! Whereas a planned routine with fewer meals, like intermittent fasting, is proven to actually lower hunger, simply by riding the ghrelin wave. That seems to suggest the opposite of our multi-meal myth.

The Complete Guide To Intermittent Fasting


4 – Protein Kills the Kidneys

The Myth – This one’s part of tradition, it’s been debunked often enough, but you’ll still hear it if the topic reaches the dinner table. God, Mom.

Captain Truth – Short story short, it won’t, unless you come saddled with pre-existing conditions. Keep downing shake after shake till the gains come home.

Check Out My Host Of High-Protein Keto Recipes


5 – Saturated Fats Are On The Black List

The Myth – The whipping body of the nutritional world, until trans-fats came knocking and stole its mantle. People have divided fats into good and bad, far too simplistically.

Vegetable / Unsaturated Fats are of the decent kind, doing great things for cholesterol, lowering heart risk. Stand-up stuff. Animal / Saturated Fats, however, manage the opposite, and should be limited. So full-fat milk and red meat tend to get shunned in healthy households. And I haven’t mentioned yet that red meat causes cancer.

Captain Truth – It turns out, it’s quite the opposite. Saturated fat is closely linked to higher testosterone levels, comes with its own set of micronutrients that are difficult to obtain elsewhere. As far as cholesterol goes, lowering these fats reduces both good and the purportedly bad LDL cholesterol. As it turns out, the whole ‘LDL is bad’ hypothesis didn’t recognise that there are two types of LDL, one benign, one harmful. Guess which one saturated fat increases?

As for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, they’re easily oxidised, contain a host of toxins, and make a terrible option for when you want to give your food the frying treatment. So the reality actually takes this backwards.

Why Saturated Fat Is The Most Important Ingredient

6 – Dietary Cholesterol Raises Blood Cholesterol

The Myth – Essentially, dial down the eggs you’re cramming into the omelette. Foods big on cholesterol can increase blood cholesterol levels, giving you a penchant for heart disease.

Captain Truth – There’s no link to be made here, except perhaps on drastic levels. But at that point, the excess calories would be a greater problem. Basically, the body makes its own cholesterol, reducing production if food cholesterol is increased. Fetch the omelette out the bin.


7 – No More Than 30g Of Protein In A Meal

The Myth – There’s been some research showing protein synthesis maximised at 20-30g. Leading Bro-lites to the conclusion that excess protein was a complete waste, and instead must be meticulously divided into six or seven meals.

Captain Truth – It’s a classic case of Bro-science. All it takes is for one person to start the fire, and after some time, maybe five minutes, the gossip has been passed to enough people for it to become fact.

As for the protein, it will still be digested, just over a longer period of time. Otherwise, methods like Intermittent Fasting would be big fat duds.


8 – Tuna Causes Mercury Poisoning

The Myth – The amount of mercury in the environment, in the fish we eat, is dangerously increasing. The EFSA (European Food Safety Agency) recommends limiting consumption of fish with high mercury content. So that’s pretty official.

Captain Truth – I can’t allow a bodybuilding stable to be sidelined like this. There’s been no evidence of mercury increases in fish. In one study, Princeton scientists compared samples of yellowfin tuna from 1971 with samples caught in 1998. They expected to find a mercury increase of between 9 and 26 percent, but they found a small decline instead.

As far as the negative effects of mercury go, A recent twelve-year study conducted in the Seychelles Islands (in the Indian Ocean) found no negative health effects from dietary exposure to mercury through heavy fish consumption, including shellfish, which is pretty high in mercury. 

There have been a grand total of four documented cases of people being poisoned by mercury in their food, and it was by fungicide in grains. Things look pretty safe from here.

Summing Up – There’s likely a bountiful bunch I haven’t touched on, but no matter. The main takeaway from here should be that there is much in the diet world that shouldn’t be taken at face-value. Otherwise, you’ll be limiting your options, and a key ingredient is variety, for the risk of getting bored and nutrient deficient. Live free, eat free. Moderation will win you the day.

Thanks for reading. Check out my other articles on dieting here:

The Fit Trail Blog

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