Yes we are only in the middle of winter, but that doesn’t stop most of us looking for the next diet trend as we head in to summer.
According to The Sun, 46 per cent of women go on a quick-fix diet before trips and the summer period, while 13 per cent pop diet pills.
Amid so much advice, dietitian Zoe Griffiths, Weight Watchers’ head of public health, believes we often try to slim the wrong way — through cutting carbs, avoiding high-fat foods and turning to detox shakes and juices.
Here are some of the biggest myths to beware of.
MYTH ONE: DETOXING IS A QUICK FIX
A detox regimen may involve fasting, a restricted diet, taking charcoal supplements or “eating” nothing but juices and soups.
It claims to remove “toxic waste” from the body.
This is often associated with benefits such as quick loss of weight, increased energy levels or glowing skin.
But there is no scientific evidence that detoxing works.
A healthy body is capable of removing waste and toxins of its own accord — through our kidneys, liver, skin and even our lungs.
When people claim they feel good following a detox, this is more likely down to lifestyle changes such as drinking less alcohol or eating healthier food or having shed water weight, not real fat.
MYTH TWO: VEGANISM AIDS WEIGHT LOSS
There is no doubt that a plant-based diet can have many great health benefits.
It is known to help to prevent Type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease, as well as lowering high blood pressure.
But eliminating entire food groups from your diet can put you at risk of being deficient in nutrients such as calcium, vitamin D, iron, vitamin B12, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids.
Although studies have shown that vegans have a lower BMI than meat-eaters, you must pay attention to the ingredients.
Many vegan meals can be high in sweeteners or processed oils in an effort to compensate for the lack of ingredients such as butter and eggs.
MYTH THREE: ALL FATS ARE BAD FOR YOU
Too much saturated fat such as butter, ghee or fatty cuts of meat will lead to high cholesterol levels.
But a little fat is considered part of a healthy, balanced diet.
The UK dietary guidelines recommend consuming no more than 70g of fat a day, of which 20g may be saturated fats. In Australia, the guidelines allow for between 28g and 40g of good fats per day for men and 14g to 20g per day for women.
Fat is needed for the body to absorb vital nutrients such as vitamins A, D, E and K.
Some fats also produce essential fatty acids not produced by our bodies, such as omega-3, which is in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and fresh tuna.
But all oils are high in calories, so use sparingly when cooking and if possible opt for mono or polyunsaturated oils such as olive, rapeseed or sunflower.
MYTH FOUR: CARBS MAKE YOU FAT
Many people believe cutting down on carbohydrate intake automatically means weight loss.
But carbs are a key part of a balanced diet and the body needs them to keep up your energy level.
It is usually not their consumption that leads to weight gain but rather loading up on too many calories overall.
The wholegrain varieties of bread, rice and pasta can help you feel full for longer and they often have a higher fibre content than white carbs.
Wholegrains include foods such as barley, oats, rye, bulgur wheat, brown rice and whole-wheat pasta.
MYTH FIVE: GLUTEN IS BAD FOR YOU
Gluten-free foods are a necessity for those people who suffer from coeliac disease, a condition which affects about one in 100 people, or those with a gluten sensitivity or intolerance.
Coeliac sufferers are unable to digest gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
They can have difficulty absorbing vital nutrients and will experience symptoms such as bloating, tiredness and diarrhoea.
There are also people without gluten intolerances who nevertheless insist they feel healthier on a low-gluten diet.
But some experts believe that the benefit is felt because you are reducing intake of sugary, high-calorie foods such as cakes, biscuits and pastries, as opposed to cutting out gluten.
MYTH SIX: DIET DRINKS ARE HEALTHY
These are the go-to drinks for many people looking to reduce their sugar or calorie intake.
They are sweetened artificially with things such as aspartame.
As they are usually calorie-free, it is often assumed that these drinks are a positive weight-loss tool.
But scientists have suggested diet drinks may increase your appetite by stimulating hunger hormones, altering sweet-taste receptors and triggering feel-good dopamine responses in the brain.
Because diet soft drinks do not have calories, they may lead to a higher intake of calorie-dense food.
But there is no hard-and-fast rule when it comes to sugar-free soft drinks. Some studies indicate weight loss can be successfully achieved. Moderation is the key.
MYTH SEVEN: EATING LATE GAINS WEIGHT
This myth is based on the idea your body’s metabolism slows down as you prepare to sleep. Not true.
Think of your body as a machine that runs 24/7, 365 days a year.
Just because it is late at night does not mean eating equals automatic weight gain.
Weight gains that people attribute to late-night eating can usually be put down to a pattern of behaviour.
When someone feels guilty about their late-night eating, this may lead to further overeating.
Or someone who eats late at night might compensate by not eating breakfast and then, by midmorning, they may end up reaching for a bag of crisps.
As a rule, if you stick to a balanced diet and exercise regularly, a healthy evening snack should not have a negative effect on your weight.
While we’re on the topic, here’s how to feel full without overeating. Plus, this trending diet is said to add years to your life in just 21 days.