Diet Myth #1: Diet Soda Helps You Lose Weight
Most diet sodas are lower in calories than regular soda because they don’t use regular sugar. The problem here is the artificial sweeteners, which have been tied to weight gain. Why? Research shows that artificial sweeteners stimulate taste receptors that sense sweetness in both the esophagus and stomach. Anticipating energy, the pancreas releases insulin, an important hormone for accumulating body fat. At the same time, chemicals are sent to the brain’s satiety center, which becomes confused as to whether or not the body is actually receiving calories.
As your body gets “tricked” by the sugar substitute, you crave more food and become susceptible to overeating in order to feel satisfied. The result: You feel even hungrier and less full, which can lead to weight gain.
Artificial sweeteners are more than 100 times sweeter than natural table sugar. This is cause for concern since naturally sweet foods, like fruits, won’t seem as sweet to a desensitized palate.
Choose a healthier alternative, like a glass of seltzer with lemon or lime, the next time you reach for a refreshment.
Diet Myth #2: The More Calories You Cut, the More Weight You Lose
It may seem counterintuitive, but cutting too many calories from your diet can be bad for your waistline. Because 3500 calories equals about 1 pound of fat, you would need to cut 3500 calories out of your diet each week to lose 1 pound a week. In order to do this, you’d have to cut 500 calories a day to lose 1 pound a week.
The problem with severely restricting diets, however, is that they jolt your body into “starvation mode,” preventing your body from burning unwanted fat. This mechanism, which is thought to have evolved as a defense against starvation, helps the body make the most of the calories it gets from food and drink; the body, in order to keep functioning, then looks to get some of it calories from lean muscle. This results in muscle loss. Less muscle means a slower metabolic rate—and in this case, stalled weight loss.
Next: Does pasta really make you pack on the pounds?