Just because someone gives diet advice, doesn’t mean that advice should be followed. If you come across a diet that suggests skipping meals, having cheat days, and eating low-fat foods, we suggest ignoring those recommendations completely. Here are five diet tips you should make sure you’re not following.
1. Fat makes you fat
The old-school thought is that fat makes you fat, but following a low-fat diet won’t help control your weight or become healthier. It’s a little more complicated than that. Good fats come from sources such as fish, nuts, or olives. They tend to have a high omega-3 content. Bad fats are usually refined versions of vegetable fats like soy, corn, or peanuts. These refined, bad fats tend to be higher in omega-6 and are very susceptible to oxidation during processing, making them damaging to our bodies.
2. Cut carbs to lose weight
Yes, carbohydrates can make you fat if eaten in excess, as can any other food, but cutting or severely limiting them can derail your weight-loss goals. One of the reasons that whole grains prevent weight gain and aid in weight loss is the fiber content. Researchers at Brigham Young University in Utah followed the eating habits of middle-aged women for nearly two years and found that those who increased their fiber intake generally lost weight. Women who decreased the fiber in their diets gained.
The key is to stick to whole grains and avoid refined grains. Refined grains are lacking in fiber content and usually contain added sugar — both of which contribute to weight gain.
3. Cheat days are necessary
Overeating too much in one day can affect your body’s level of ghrelin, the primary hunger hormone that works with leptin (the hormone that tells your brain you’re full) to keep your hunger and fullness in check. “This could actually make you hungrier,” Marjorie Nolan, R.D., told Self.
Depending on your definition of “cheat day,” you could very well eat enough calories to gain back the weight you lost throughout the week. All-in-all, an extremely strict diet and one free-for-all day isn’t sustainable.
4. Skip meals to cut calories
If cutting calories equals weight loss, then skipping a meal or two is the best way to get there, right? Probably not, and in fact, foregoing those meals could actually backfire on you. Researchers found that skipping meals during the day and eating one large meal in the evening resulted in potentially risky metabolic changes. The meal skippers had elevated fasting glucose levels and a delayed insulin response — conditions that, if they persisted, could eventually lead to diabetes.
5. Avoid all indulgences
It might sound confusing, given we mentioned cheat days can really derail your efforts. But if you try to limit yourself to only the most nutritious foods all the time, you’re going to crack at some point and end up overindulging. This is why it’s a smart idea to allow yourself regular treats. Don’t believe us? Nutritionists agree. Joy Bauer, R.D., tells HuffPost eating a portion-controlled treat each day will actually help you stay on track.
Portion does matter, though, so don’t eat out of the ice cream container or open bag of candy. Plate up a serving, put away the rest, then enjoy your treat.