Estimates show Americans spend a lot of money on diets – to the tune of 33+ billion dollars annually. That’s pretty scary!
And, this money is spent on everything from popular diet books and monthly weight loss subscription programs to fat loss supplements and the like. Sadly, the most recent statistics showed about 40% of adults are obese, the highest ever reported in the US.
That doesn’t stop marketers from trying to come up with new plans or offerings to help slow the growth. In fact, it fuels the fire. Let’s look at some of the most common “Scary Diet Myths” that are prevalent, and some alternatives.
- Cutting/Eliminating Carbs – this one seems to come and go in waves. For a while it was low carb, high fat diets (AKA Atkins). This then transitioned to gluten free diets, suggested it was gluten – an ingredient common in carbohydrates – that was the culprit. And now we’ve seen the growth in popularity of ketogenic diets, which are diets that are primarily fat with less than 5% of total calories coming from carbohydrates, which is the equivalent of eating 2 or so fruits for an entire day.
- The truth is, we thrive on carbohydrates. Our brains use glucose for fuel and our muscles perform best when well fueled with carbohydrates. Use the guide below to best plan an eating strategy that can work for you and your goals.
- Low Fat Diet. Yes, this one still survives in some circles. Low fat or fat free are some terms that are still looked at as “healthy” food options. And, yes, when a food is naturally fat free (e.g., veggies or fruit), it’s great. But other foods, like nuts, fish, avocado, olive oil, fish oil and others are amazing for the body and necessary for survival. If a food naturally has fat, enjoy it occasionally. Just because it’s created to be fat free (e.g., fat free cookies), doesn’t mean it’s a good option. Rather, including a bit of fat with each meal and with snacks is a wise idea. For example, try a handful of nuts with a piece of fruit for a snack, or using olive oil liberally, like they do in the Mediterranean. In fact, if you’re looking for a “diet” or type of lifestyle to follow, there are more research studies on the Mediterranean Diet than any other (including low carb, ketogenic and the like).
So now you know you shouldn’t aim to eat low carb or low fat, but rather a balance between the two. Quality matters – quality carbs, with plenty of fiber, quality protein with each meal and a bit of healthy fats is the way to go as I show in the image below.
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Certified Sports Nutrition Coach