5 Diet Rules That Were Meant To Be Broken

Diet Rules meant to be broken

Everyone has a different opinion on the best ways to lose weight and the best diet that will help you achieve this.  Some of these opinions are based on scientific evidence; others are based on personal experience, whilst still more are based on nothing at all.  Not only this but even the recommendations we get from reputable sources are constantly changing in light of new evidence that is emerging every day and suggesting that previous ideas where in fact wrong.

Not long ago, we were advised to limit egg consumption to protect our heart health, however now eggs are seen as an important source of nutrition, and are seen to be perfectly safe to eat every day for most people.  Similarly, ten years ago the focus of many diets was eliminating fat, whilst the current craze today is to cut back on all forms of sugar.

Here are some classic diet rules that may not be as successful as we originally thought, and in fact might be better broken in terms of health and weight loss.

1. Don’t eat late at night

It is commonly thought that eating late at night or even after 7pm can lead to weight gain.  The idea behind this is that you do not burn the calories off as you are sleeping overnight, compared to during the day when you are more active.  However, this is not the case.  The important thing when it comes to weight loss is not when you eat, but what you are eating.

To lose weight, your total calorie intake needs to be less than what you are burning during exercise or physical activity overall.  It makes no difference if you eat your calories at breakfast or at dinner, if you eat more than you are burning you will gain weight.

There is nothing wrong with eating later at night, as long as you choose healthy options not only at this meal, but also at the other meals of the day.  So if you have been struggling to fit in an evening meal before 7 or turning down dinner invites because they are for later in the evening, relax, just make sure you choose a healthy, lower calorie options where possible.

Some people find that eating a larger meal at night disrupts their sleep, so if this is the case you may benefit from eating your bigger meal at midday and a lighter one at night.

2. Carbohydrates will make you fatter

Carbohydrates such as bread, pasta and potatoes have been seen as a dieter’s nightmare for the past few years and it is true that by reducing these foods people often lose weight.  However, this weight loss is generally due to them eating fewer calories overall as they are eliminating these foods which are easily overeaten.

This is not to say that in controlled portions and with healthy sides and cooking methods, these foods cannot be part of a healthy diet.  Some versions of these foods are definitely healthier than others, so opt for lower GI, high fiber and whole-grain choices where possible and choose low-fat cooking methods and toppings to include them in part of your diet.

Carbohydrate based foods provide essential nutrients such as B vitamins as well as energy that your body requires, so there is no reason not to include them in a healthy diet in moderate amounts.

3. Fat will cause weight gain

A few years ago, low-fat and no fat was all the rage in terms of weight loss and thousands of new products appeared on the supermarket shelves to support this.  These days there is less emphasis on low-fat and more on eating the right types of fat for health.

Avoiding saturated and trans fats and choosing unsaturated oils and fats is healthier for your heart and has also been suggested to contribute to maintaining a healthy weight. Hint: You can visit Nutrition Style for more diet myths and truths.

4. You need to burn every calorie you eat

Many people get so caught up in calorie counting and how many calories they are burning in every activity they do that they forget that the body requires energy in the form of calories in order to survive and perform all the processes it carries out on a daily basis.

The amount of calories required daily is generally greater for men as they have a higher muscle mass than women and increases if you have more body weight.  Whilst to lose weight it is necessary to reduce your calories, burn more in exercise or ideally do a bit of both, it is important to remember not to reduce your intake too much or exercise too hard  without refueling your body as this can be detrimental to weight loss as your body starts to conserve any energy it can.

It can also be dangerous to your health and leave you feeling lethargic, tired and without the energy needed to carry out daily functions.

5. Skipping meals will help with weight loss

Whilst skipping meals to reduce your daily calories may seem like a good idea, it in fact more likely to cause you to gain weight.  When you skip meals and your body does not receive fuel on a regular basis, it may go into starvation mode, conserving energy by slowing down the metabolism as it is not sure when it will receive more energy.

People who skip meals and don’t eat regularly also tend to get extremely hungry and this can lead to overeating or cravings for high sugar and fat foods due to low blood sugar levels later on, both of which can contribute to weight gain.

Alex Chris

Alex has been writting about nutrition, fitness and weight loss since 2006. He recently joined a team of nutritionists and certified fitness expers at Nutrition Style, a blog about nutrition and weight loss through a healthy lifestyle. You can also contact Alex on Google+

6 thoughts on “5 Diet Rules That Were Meant To Be Broken

  • June 6, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Thanks for sharing! It’s nice to see something realistic written about weight loss. Most of the stuff I read is just about fad diets that won’t work at all. I agree with 99% of your post.

  • June 4, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Good article, but I would add this to No. 4: The FDA has determined that the average adult burns 2,000 calories per day – from two separate metabolic processes – one is voluntary (exercise, activity), and one is involuntary (organ function, heart and respiration, maintenance of your core body temperature). Even when sleeping, adults burn between 60 and 85 calories per hour. Rule of thumb on calories – spread them out with a minimum of three meals each day and never go below 1,200 calories per day as an active adult.

    Another big myth permeates the media, too. The ‘more is better’ philosophy of exercise. If you train with any intensity, 2-3 total hours each week can get you in great shape (I should know – I’m 57, in better shape than most men half my age, yet I train for 2.5 hours each week.) The ‘hour a day’ philosophy is a precursor to failure for most adults. Look at the real success rates of P90X or ‘Insanity’, promoting the ‘train every day with our muscle confusion system’, and you see a 95% failure rate in the first year alone.

  • June 3, 2013 at 7:30 am

    2 and 5 are not correct. Carbohydrates are basically sugar and really just empty calories compared to fat, protein and vegetables. Skipping meals (Intermittent Fasting) has been proven to have weight loss and other benefits.

  • June 3, 2013 at 3:08 am

    Would like to add that the key to long term health and weight loss success is to develop healthy eating and healthy lifestyle habits for life. The Med Life Diet is a great book that can help you develop them one step at a time ! (www.themedlifediet.com)

    • June 3, 2013 at 7:07 am

      Barbara hi and thank you for your comment.

      It is true that long lasting results can be achieved by doing a lifestyle change and not a diet and this should be the goal of every ‘dieter’.

      Thanks again


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