Fad diets are popular and sometimes even provide quick weight loss fixes. Unfortunately, they only offer a temporary solution to an often lifelong problem. Let’s hear from four of Altru’s dietitians as they bust myths and reveal truths behind popular nutrition trends.
1. Myth: Gluten free diets result in weight loss.
Truth: A gluten free diet is followed when someone has been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. A gluten free diet consists of eliminating barley, rye, oats and wheat. Weight loss may occur if you eliminate most chips, cookies and desserts. If the chips, cookies and desserts are replaced with gluten free items, the calories are usually the same, due to using a different form of flour. So, if you haven’t been diagnosed with Celiac and want to lose weight, reducing calories and increasing exercise is the way to go.
Nutrition Mythbuster: Danika Warner-Noreen, RD, LRD, CDE
2. Myth: Juicing (the process of removing juice from fresh fruits and vegetables) results in weight loss.
Truth: Juicing is no healthier than eating whole fruits and vegetables. Juice is often lower in nutrients, and the fiber content is near zero. Whole foods usually contain more vitamins and minerals, as many of these nutrients are in or near the skin, which gets discarded as pulp when juiced. Your body does not absorb nutrients better in juice form.
Yet, juicing isn’t all bad. Additional truths:
- Some juicers do reserve the extracted pulp. This fiber-rich pulp can be added to soups, stew and quick breads for added benefit.
- Juicing may improve nutritional intake by incorporating fruits and veggies that may not get eaten due to flavor or texture preferences.
- Juicing can be used as part of a sensible weight loss program, which would also include a variety of nutritious whole foods.
The bottom line: when enjoyed in moderation, fresh-squeezed juice can be a nice way to get in more vitamins and minerals from a variety of fruits and vegetables. However, the best way to lose weight and promote optimal health is to eat a well-balanced diet made up of foods from all food groups.
Nutrition Mythbuster: Lynn Holum, RD, LRD, CDE
3. Myth: Since dietary supplements are easily available – and don’t require a prescription – they are safer than drug products and can be used to self-treat illness without a health professional’s advice or supervision.
Truth: Taking supplements will not necessarily improve your performance and can be dangerous. More is not better. Studies have shown that some herbal products interact with drugs and can have a wide range of effects, including:
- St. John’s Wort may interfere with drugs used by organ transplant patients, and drugs used to treat depression, seizures and certain cancers
- Some alter effectiveness of oral contraceptives
- Garlic, ginko, danshen and dong quai can cause the blood to thin
Always consult with your health care professional prior to taking dietary supplements.
Nutrition Mythbuster: Jennifer Haugen, RD, CSSD, LD
4. Myth: Avoid carbohydrates to lose weight.
Truth: Cutting back on carbs may help you lose weight in the short term, but this is mainly because you are eating less food and calories. Significantly reducing carbohydrates means you will miss out on nutritional benefits provided by healthy choices, such as whole grains, fruits, starchy vegetables, dairy, and dried peas and beans. Low carb diets are restrictive and hard to follow. The weight you lose will likely be regained.
Nutrition Mythbuster: Becky Westereng, RD, CSSD, LD, CDE
Lifestyle modification, rather than quick fixes, is the way to go for long-term weight loss and maintenance. If you are looking to manage your weight by changing your diet and exercise for the better, check out Altru’s Weight Management Program or visit with one of our dietitians.