7 Diet Misconceptions

Weight loss can be difficult, no thanks to popular misconceptions that have the ring of truth but can actually work against you. Among the more common myths:

1. Desserts are forbidden.
The truth is, there’s room in your diet for any kind of food, especially the ones you love most — as long as you control your total caloric intake (and grams of carbohydrate, if you tally them). Denying yourself your favorite foods can lead to binge eating and, ultimately, discouragement.

2. You have to lose a lot of weight to make a difference.
The closer you can get to an ideal weight, the better, but small, sustained improvements at the beginning of a weight-loss program have the biggest impact on your health. Studies show that losing just 5 to 10 pounds can improve insulin resistance enough to allow some people with type 2 diabetes to quit medication or injections.

3. What you eat matters more than how much.
Both matter, but recent research finds that the number of calories in your food is more important than where they come from. Example: A bagel might seem healthier than a doughnut hole, but dense bagels have the calorie content of six slices of bread. As long as you’re not eating too much fat in other foods, the doughnut hole wins.

4. If you work out, you can eat whatever you want.
That’s robbing Peter to pay Paul. You can’t lose weight if you reduce calories in one way but increase them in another.

5. Skipping meals makes you lose weight fast.
Actually, studies show that people who skip breakfast tend to be heavier than people who don’t. And skipping meals tends to make you overeat later. If you have diabetes, it’s important to keep up a steady intake of small portions of food throughout the day to keep your blood-sugar levels stable and reduce the risk of hypoglycemia.

6. Starches are fattening.
If you are insulin resistant, your body may find it easier to convert carbohydrate calories to fat than to burn it as energy, but the fact remains that starches (and other carbohydrates) are less dense in calories gram for gram than other types of food. The main issue is calories, so if you load starchy foods with fat — sour cream and butter on a baked potato, for instance — or eat them in large quantities, the caloric load can add up.

7. You should never eat fast food.
Never say never. Fast food can be worked into your meal plan if you choose well. Opt for grilled foods instead of fried, avoid or scrape away high-fat condiments like mayonnaise, and share those French fries to keep portion size down.

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