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Mythbusters: The Truth Behind Common Nutrition Myths

Eating fat makes you gain weight. Red meat is bad for you. The best way to lose weight is to eliminate carbs. “All-natural” foods are always better for you.

These are only a few of the nutrition myths you may have heard. Whether you’d like to lose weight or simply want to eat a healthier diet, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the often-conflicting diet advice out there. Fear not—we’re going to dig up the truth behind some of the most common diet myths. You may be surprised at what’s fact and what’s fiction.

Nutrition myth: Carbohydrates are fattening.

Nutrition fact: Carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet.

You probably know someone who’s tried a low-carb diet, or maybe you’ve tried cutting carbs to lose weight. But carbs aren’t all bad. In fact, your body needs them to function at its best. Instead of saying bye-bye to carbs, choose wisely. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are all carbohydrate foods that will help you stay healthy and maintain a healthy weight.

Nutrition myth: Nonfat and low-fat foods will help you lose weight.

Nutrition fact: Lower-fat foods often contain calorie counts per serving that are similar to full-fat versions.

If you’re watching your weight, you may be cutting back on fat. Opting for foods that claim they have little or no fat doesn’t always make sense, though. Lower-fat versions of foods often replace the fat they remove with other ingredients like sugar. That means they may not be any healthier than their fuller-fat versions. You may be better off with a smaller portion of the full-fat version of the food.

Nutrition myth: Meat is bad for you.

Nutrition fact: The right cuts of meat fit into a healthy diet.

Meat can be high in saturated fat. Look for lower-fat options, like round steak, sirloin steak, lean ground beef, turkey, and chicken. They’ll provide necessary protein and other essential nutrients without a lot of extra fat and calories.

Nutrition myth: Skipping meals is a good way to lose weight.

Nutrition fact: Skipping meals makes you more likely to overeat at your next meal.

The idea of skipping lunch or dinner may sound like a great way to cut calories. However, it almost always backfires. You’re likely to feel so hungry that you make unwise snacking decisions or go overboard at your next meal. The better bet may be to eat every 3 to 4 hours. This helps give you steady energy for your day.

Nutrition myth: Eating late at night makes you more likely to gain weight.

Nutrition fact: Eating late at night may make you more likely to gain weight.

Actually, this “myth” may have something to it. People who eat late at night often eat because they’re bored or because it’s an established habit, as opposed to eating because they’re hungry. This may make them more likely to put on weight. If you have cravings late at night, try eating more throughout the day. And keep good-for-you snacks on hand (like fruits, vegetables, unsalted nuts, and seeds) so you have something healthy to munch on should the urge strike.

Online Medical Reviewer: Nelda Mercer, RD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, MSN, BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2023
© 2000-2023 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.