The truth behind common diet and weight-loss myths

May 25, 2020
Chocolate has long been blamed for triggering breakouts. Source: Getty.

There are plenty of misconceptions out there when it comes to diet and weight loss. ‘Chocolate can trigger breakouts’, ‘coffee can help you lose weight’, ‘dried fruit is an excellent weight-loss snack’… and the list goes on. But are any of these health claims true? In an attempt to get to the bottom of this, with the help of Teri Lichtenstein, consulting dietician at Entity Health, we’ve looked at some of the most common myths about diet and weight loss.

Nutrient deficiencies cause cravings

There’s a common misconception that food cravings are the body’s way of telling us that we’re lacking certain nutrients, with many people wrongly assuming that, say a chocolate craving could be a sign of magnesium deficiency — but according to Lichtenstein, that’s not the case.

She reckons it’s highly unlikely your food cravings are a sign of nutrient-related deficiencies, and if you were low on magnesium your body would more likely crave foods higher in magnesium such as spinach, nuts or beans. “The reasons behind cravings are complex and can be caused by a combination of factors — emotional, psychological, social and hormonal.”

Chocolate can trigger breakouts

Chocolate has taken the blame for breakouts for decades, but Lichtenstein says there’s no evidence proving chocolate directly causes breakouts. That doesn’t mean you can scuff down as much chocolate as you like though… chocolate still contains high amounts of sugar and dairy that can be detrimental to your skin.

A low-carb diet can help you lose weight

“Dropping a few kilograms on a low-carb diet may lead [you] to believe it’s the cure for weight-gain woes,” Lichtenstein says. But she says following a low-carb diet isn’t healthy in the long-term, not to mention eating fewer carbs can cause tiredness and fatigue. And if you’re feeling a bit under the weather, you’re more likely to reach for a chocolate bar or packet of chips.

Dried fruit is a good weight-loss snack

Lichtenstein reckons dried fruit isn’t always that good for you. She says dried fruits are much higher in sugar because they’ve had almost all of the water content removed. So you’re betting off just snacking on some fresh slices of fruit instead.

Coffee can help you lose weight

“Coffee is a stimulant that increases [your] metabolic rate by boosting adrenaline, which can help burn more calories and break down fat,” Lichtenstein says. However, it’s only a short-term effect, and too much coffee can lead to weight gain and other health problems.

Supplements aren’t that helpful

While eating a well-balanced diet is the key to good health, sometimes you need a little extra help. That’s where supplements step in. Supplements can provide you with extra nutrients when you’re missing key vitamins and minerals or when certain health conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, or hypertension, trigger a deficiency.

Supplements only address nutritional deficiencies

“If you think supplements do work, but only if they’re to provide vitamins and minerals and nothing else, think again,” Lichtenstein says. She says there are many supplements on the market that can support the body in more ways than just filling nutritional gaps, adding: “For example, glutathione is an antioxidant that helps to regulate oxidative stress, which can promote youthful skin and reduce blemishes.”

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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