If you find that you often follow diets religiously but make little to no progress, then it could be because you're making some common diet mistakes.
Hello! Online debunks some common dieting myths.
1. Salads are always best. Salads are not always as healthy as they seem. The vegetables they include may be healthy but the toppings can bump up the calorie intake significantly. For example, a warm vegetable and goat cheese salad with chicken may have over 900 calories, while a vegetable pizza from the same restaurant may have 600. If you do fancy a salad, opt for a cheese-free salad with the dressing on the side.
2. Low-fat foods help you lose weight. Most diets suggest replacing full-fat foods with low-fat versions, but often these foods are padded out with sugar and thickeners instead, meaning calorie content may only be a tiny bit less. When you pick up low-fat foods, look to see where else the calories might come from.
3. Food eaten late at night is more fattening. Many diets warn you not to eat after a certain time in the evening, claiming that the body will store more fat because it is not burned off with any activity. However, a recent study at the Dunn Nutrition Centre in Cambridge revealed that people who ate their main meal at 8 p.m. burned up exactly the same amount of calories as others who ate their main meal at lunchtime.
4. Only eat when you're hungry. Researchers at the National Weight Control Registry report that spacing food evenly throughout the day is key to weight loss success. Eating regularly sparks the metabolism, meaning more calories are burned. What's more, meal skippers are more prone to weight problems because deprivation of food eventually leads to intake of too much of the wrong foods.
5. You can eat as many healthy foods as you want. Not true. Avocados, nuts and olive oil all offer heart-healthy fats, but also significant calories. Keep an eye on your intake of these snacks.
6. Yogurt is the perfect diet food. Yogurt features heavily in many diets, but some yoghurt can be just as fattening as ice cream. Steer clear of Greek yogurt if you're watching your weight — it can contain 10 per cent fat. Opt for low or nonfat varieties.
7. Exercise makes you eat more. Dieters often shy away from exercise using this excuse, but research shows that after 20 minutes of exercise people ate no more than those who had done nothing. Exercise even serves to reduce appetite in some people.
8. Certain diets banish cellulite. While some diet companies may claim that their products target cellulite specifically, it's no different than ordinary body fat. Any calorie-controlled diet, if combined with exercise, can help you to reduce cellulite.
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A version of this article appeared at hellomagazine.com with the headline "Diet myths busted."