MYTH 1: Temperature of foods or beverages does not matter.

FACT 1: The actual temperature of a food or beverage that you eat or drink can have a direct impact on how many extra calories your body burns throughout the day. Think of this as using what we eat or drink to force the body to be more inefficient at metabolizing food or beverages. Let me explain this concept to you this way: the body normally maintains a temperature homeostasis (around 98.7 degrees Farenheit). When we eat or drink foods/beverages that greatly vary from our normal temperature, the body must either “heat up” the item or “cool it down” while it travels from your mouth, through your esophagus and into your stomach. If we did not have this ability, every time you drank hot chocolate or ice cream, you would burn or freeze your upper GI tract and this clearly does not happen.

MYTH 2: As long as you eat less than what you need, it does not matter what you eat.

FACT 2: The reality is that what you eat matters. However, there are many nutritionists and physiologists who only believe that as long as you eat less than what you need or burn more calories than you ingest, weight loss will result. Yes that is true, when you are in calorie deficit, you will lose weight over time. However, what you eat directly affects the type of weight loss that you can experience. For more information in this area, the Nutrition & Metabolism Society has great resources.

MYTH 3: Eating spicy foods equals extra calories burned.

FACT 3: As much as when we eat a spicy pepper and it makes our insides burn, we may be burning “dinner” calories. Yes, there is some truth to the ability of hot peppers (capsaicin is the active ingredient) to help a person burn a few extra calories, but there is a catch. It seems that if you are obese or overweight as compared to being within normal healthy weight ranges, that you will not get the metabolic benefit of the spice. Therefore, for “normal” weight people, eating spicy foods helps maintain normal weight, but unfortunately if you are overweight/obese, you miss out on this benefit.

MYTH 4: Fad diets work for permanent weight loss.

FACT 4: Fad diets are not the best way to lose weight and keep it off. Fad diets often promise quick weight loss or tell you to cut certain foods out of your diet. Diets that are NOT fads, no matter what anyone tells you include Atkins for Life, The Zone, Volumetrics, etc. Examples of fad diets may include the grapefruit diet, the peanut butter diet and so on (more on that in this issue!). You may lose weight at first on one of these diets, but diets that strictly limit calories or food choices are hard to follow.

MYTH 5: Avoiding high-glycemic foods aids in weight loss.

FACT 5: High-glycemic foods are those that typically affect blood sugar in a rapid way. That can be a double-edge sword. Making your blood sugar rise can also lead to a greater amount of triglycerides being formed and ultimately deposited in your body as fat tissue (added body fat). Further, there is a chance that over time, if you are overweight or obese, eating a high “GI” diet can worsen your condition and affect insulin regulation. However, the one time that you want to utilize high-glycemic foods is in the anabolic window for post-workout nutrition. The post-workout shake can contain high-GI carbs, along with protein for recovery. Otherwise, these are not foods for your diet mainstay.

*This article was originally published in the February 2009 issue of FitnessRx for Women, by Douglas S. Kalman PhD, RD, FACN, as part of 10 Diet Myths Debunked.


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