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Diet MythsBathing suit season is just around the corner and every friend has a new diet tip. But does science back them up? Here are some of the most popular diet myths that make scientists shake their heads.
Robin Nixon, LiveScience Staff Writer
Fat-free food leads to fat-free bodies.Slide 2 of 15
Fat-free food leads to fat-free bodies.In the 1980s, new dietary recommendations came out imploring everyone to adopt low-fat diets. Only recently has it become clear what a mistake that was. Calling the recommendation an "uncontrolled experiment on a whole population," Dr. Michael Alderman said low-fat diets might have helped spur the national rise in obesity and diabetes.
We now know that fats are necessary for health. Fat is critical for the optimum functioning of the brain, the heart, the skin and other major organs, as well as for the absorption of many vitamins.
They are also good for dieting. Fat digestion suppresses ghrelin, the hormone that makes us feel hungry, while simultaneously spurring the release of peptides that make us feel full, found a study published in theAmerican Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolismin 2005. A moderate amount of fat can also lower the glycemic index of a meal, helping you feel satisfied for longer.Slide 3 of 15
Energy bars will power weight loss.Slide 4 of 15
Energy bars will power weight loss.Power Bars, Zone Bars, MetRx and so on are all processed foods. And processed foods, almost to a rule, can sabotage even the most committed diet in part because they are so easy for our bodies to absorb.
Think of processed foods as partially digested foods. They allow our guts to laze about, conserve energy and encourage weight gain.
In contrast, whole foods can take a considerable amount of energy to digest. This expenditure likely explains the rapid weight loss raw-food converts usually experience, explains Richard Wrangham in "Catching Fire; How Cooking Made Us Human" (Perseus Books, 2009).
While most scientists, including Wrangham, do not recommend a diet completely composed of raw food, avoiding processed foods, even ones with aggressive health claims, will help you reach a healthy weight, Lippert said.Slide 5 of 15
Grazing will boost metabolism and help you lose weight.Slide 6 of 15
Grazing will boost metabolism and help you lose weight.While going too long without eating can set you up for diet catastrophes, "grazing can also rack up calories," Lippert said. Handful after handful of almonds, or continuous sips of banana-soy smoothies, will eventually appear on your waistline, she said.
A grazing habit degrades a person's internal guidance about when to eat, making it nearly impossible to tap into hunger and satiety cues, Lippert said. "If you can't remember the last time you were really hungry, that is not a good thing," she said.
When we eat freely and continuously, in any place at anytime, we begin eating more for stimulation and reward, rather than responding to our bodies' needs, said Dr. David Kessler, former FDA commissioner and author of "The End of Overeating; Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite" (Rodale Books, 2009).
Such behavior is not good for anyone's diet.Slide 7 of 15
Saturated fat causes cellulite, and it's bad for you anyway.Slide 8 of 15