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8 popular diet myths totally debunked

Don’t eat late at night

We’ve all been there – the clock hits 11.30pm and your stomach is growling.
Cue an epic midnight feast and resulting guilt the next morning because, as
we all know, food eaten late at night gets stored automatically as fat.


Or does it? Recent research shows that the time we eat something actually has
little role in how our body reacts to it.

A study conducted at the Dunn
Nutrition Centre in Cambridge
found that volunteers who ate a large
evening meal did not store more fat than those who ate a small evening meal.
The findings concluded that when you eat is irrelevant – what you eat over a
24-hour time period is important.

Fast for two days per week

Intermittent fasting hit the dieting scene in a big way in 2012, with the 5:2
diet reigning supreme. Up and down the country people were eating whatever
they wanted for five days and eating much less on two “fast days”,
with women consuming only 500 calories and men consuming 600. Along with a
flurry of recipe ideas to make 500 calories stretch out for an entire day
came stories aplenty of weight loss success.

Yet despite the hype, the NHS warns that there is very
little scientific evidence
that fasting diets are effective in the
long term, or even healthy. They have reportedly caused anxiety, irritation,
problems with sleeping and irritability.

Inject yourself with pregnancy hormones


(Picture: Alamy)

We may not equate pregnancy with slimness, but a new diet craze for injecting
hormones taken from the urine of pregnant women has been sweeping America.
Women with a spare $1,000 to burn each month have been buying daily
injections of the hCG hormone and combining these with an extreme diet of
just 500 calories in the hope of dropping at least a pound per day.

However, a report on the diet by the New
York Times
found “scant evidence” that it worked.
Additionally, an assistant professor at Harvard medical school who
specialises in weight-loss supplements, Dr
Peiter Cohen
, told the paper that the hormone was “nothing better
than a placebo”.

Take pills containing raspberry extracts


(Picture: Alamy)

Here’s one for the fruit fanatics: rumour has it that raspberry ketones, the
chemicals that give raspberries their smell, can be used as a slimming aid
as the ketones help the body to break down fat. However, this is just a
rumour – not only is there no scientific evidence to back up this claim,
there have been no studies conducted into the long term or even short term
effects of taking the pills. This means there could be all manner of adverse
side effects.

If you need further convincing, The
Daily Mail
uncovered a marketing scam which falsely linked
celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, Adele and TV presenter Fern Britton to
the pills. Plus, the small print on bottles of raspberry ketone sold in
America is telling. According to The
Huffington Post
, it reads: “This information has not been evaluated
by the US Food and Drug Administration, nor has it gone through the rigorous
double-blind studies required before a particular product can be deemed
truly beneficial or potentially dangerous and prescribed in the treatment of
any condition or disease.”

Go gluten free

Novak Djokovic: gluten-free (Jonathan Hordle/REX)

Dubbed the “Novak Djokovic diet” after the world tennis number one credited
his success on court to the regime, cutting gluten out of your diet has
become as fashionable as a blanket scarf. The definitive diet of 2014, which
supposedly prevents uncomfortable bloating, became so popular that sales of
“free-from” gluten foods grew by a weighty 15 per cent across Britain’s 10
biggest supermarkets, according to The
Telegraph
,
while some followers are so religious that there is even a gluten
free dating site
.

The premise is simple: any food containing gluten, such as pasta, bread, rice
and cereal, is banned. However, there is little evidence that banishing
gluten actually aids weight loss. For one thing, sufferers of coeliac
disease, who are intolerant to the protein, are not necessarily any
healthier for avoiding it. As nutritionist and coeliac sufferer Ian Marber
told The
Telegraph
: “If gluten really is the root of all evil, then coeliacs,
who really can’t eat it, would be in perfect health. I’ve been avoiding
gluten since about 1823, but I still have all the normal aches and pains and
health issues.”

Similarly, a 2013 study published in the Journal
of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
found “no evidence” to suggest
that avoiding gluten would have “significant benefits in the general
population”.

Eat vegan for 22 days

Beyonce snapped these vegan meals (Instagram)

If there’s anything that could propel an obscure diet fad to the mainstream
it’s a celebrity power couple, so when Jay-Z and Beyonce announced they were
trying the 22-day vegan challenge the cleansing diet became an instant
internet sensation.

The rapper proclaimed on his website, Life
and Times
, that the couple would be going “completely vegan, or as I
prefer to call it, plant-based!!” The idea behind the length of the
diet may be founded in solid scientific evidence, as some believe it takes
us 21
days to make a habit such as a diet stick
, but going vegan for three
weeks doesn’t guarantee weight loss.

Dalton Wong, a celebrity trainer and the founder of Twenty
Two Training
, warned Telegraph
Fashion
that going vegan was not a decision to take lightly, as the
diet has the potential to be dangerous. He said: “This is simply just
another fashionable diet. And while there are obvious benefits to a vegan
diet – more veg, fruit and fibre – it’s extreme and incredibly difficult to
do well – in fact most of us couldn’t. Plus one extreme to the other in
terms of weight is never a good idea for a woman as it plays havoc with your
insulin levels.”

Ironically, he also warned that vegans “tend to reach for the quick foods
which are traditionally calorie heavy, protein light and lacking all the
essentials nutrients we need”, meaning that following the diet could in fact
cause you to pile on the pounds.

Eat meals made of mushrooms

Katy Perry tried the mushroom diet (REX/Broadimage)

A diet that makes an enemy of the traditional balanced meal, the “M-Plan”
advocates replacing lunch or dinner with mushrooms for 14 days straight. The
thinking behind the bland plan is that mushrooms cause women to lose weight
from everywhere except their bust, and celebrities such as Katy Perry and
Kelly Osbourne have reportedly dropped pounds while maintaining their
curves, according to The
Huffington Post
.

However, it didn’t take long for this idea to be ridiculed by experts.
Although nutrients in the fungi could prevent you from feeling hungry,
leading to less snacking and a reduced calorie intake, there is no truth
behind the claim that they can help you to lose weight from specific body
areas.

As nutrition expert Lucy Wyndham Read told
The Daily Mail
, “it’s untrue that mushrooms have the power to lose
fat from everywhere except the bust. I advise women not to expect this to
happen. It’s also worth remembering that too much of a good thing is
actually never a good thing.”

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