Dieting 101: Myth Busters

It’s quite common practice for people to be curious and ask “nutrition” questions whenever they realize there’s a dietitian around (hear hear!). Across the years, I’ve happened to notice a pattern in the questions asked. Most people want to know how to lose weight, and in particular, how to lose weight from specific areas and not all over. There are a lot of misconceptions out there, and I’m going to discuss a few of them over the time here on the blog.let’s decipher truth from myth [insert evil laugh here]

Certain foods enhance weight gain in specific areas                                 
pssssht SO NOT TRUE!

TRUTH- Carbohydrates don’t make your hips grow bigger, and definitely don’t make you fat. The rule of dieting is simple: eat less calories than you need and you’ll lose weight. The rule of HEALTHY dieting is: eat less calories correctly and through the right means, and you’ll lose fat mass and hopefully gain muscle mass [consider this your golden rule].

High protein diets are the best diets
sorry you lose again!

TRUTH – Your body NEEDS carbohydrates to function. This is why eliminating carbohydrates from one’s diet is unhealthy, and on the long run – dangerous. Proteins are needed for body building and are very filling, however, most food items that are of high protein content are also high in fat. A high protein diet may result in weight loss, however, it will constitute of weight loss in muscle mass and not in fat mass. Moreover, this diet cannot be sustained forever and hence once this diet is stopped, the person will gain weight – however that weight gain would mainly be fat mass (fat mass, unlike muscles mass, does not enhance metabolism and is just mainly blubber). In conclusion, dietitians do not recommend high protein diets, we always recommend a moderate diet with exercise which eventually should become a lifestyle.

Starving is an excellent weight loss technique

TRUTH- When you skip meals during the day, the body goes into “starvation mode”. In an effort to naturally conserve energy in starvation mode, the body slows down its metabolism. Not only that, but prolonged starvation causes the body to break down fat (wait this is not a good thing!) instead of glucose for energy, resulting in ketones. High amounts of ketone have damaging effects on body organs

Eating many smaller meals throughout the day enhances metabolism

TRUTH- There is a slight truth to this myth, in such that digesting food requires energy and so our metabolism revs up as we eat – but this increase is negligible for weight loss. In reality the best methods to enhance metabolism is through exercise and not skipping breakfast. Exercise helps increase muscle mass which in turn increase metabolism. Also having breakfast is like revving up a car before driving early in the morning. You prepare your body for a full day’s work. Best advice, exercising early in the morning sets up your body for the day. 

Foods eaten at night have more calories
calories can’t tell time, they’re not very bright 

TRUTH – Calories are calories whether its 8am or 8pm. The only kernel of truth here is that people tend to be more active in the morning, hence are more likely to burn off the food they eat. However, this does not mean that overeating in the morning doesn’t count! Again the key is in the quality of the food, and in moderation.

Conclusion, if want to get rid of that tummy or those hips – changing your lifestyle is the way to go. Adjust your caloric intake and start using exercise techniques that target your problem areas. The rule is simple but flexible in the sense  that you can tailor it to fit you. Don’t like running? Take up dancing! [I hear zumba is the new way to go in Lebanon]. Final words, it’s really not quantum physics, but sadly it’s a lot of willpower and perseverance. It’s hitting the gym and not indulging in that oh-so-yummy chocolate fudge [ok fine indulge, but make it only for really worthwhile events]. From one fellow dieter to all of you – GOOD LUCK!


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12 thoughts on “Dieting 101: Myth Busters”

  1. hello! I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "real" chocolate but I'm assuming u mean milk chocolate. The difference between milk and dark chocolate is actually very important. dark chocolate is filled with cocoa which is a natural antioxidant. so the more cocoa, the better for u. also, the added milk in milk chocolate means added fat (as most milk chocolates add FULL fat milk) and sweetners. So if you're having a craving, its best to go for dark chocolate (the darker the better!)

  2. Hi Tala, Happy New Year and Congrats on the blog…What's your view on Dukan Diet, it's gaining popularity in our region these days, I've read a couple of books about it, and though they say you can eat 72 items to choose from on phase 1, I found it very difficult since you'll lose all appetite on second day and will sure pass on the plain smoked salmon…Cheers,Muhannad

  3. Hey Muhannad, Happy new yr to u as well! 🙂 and thank u. Honestly Dukan is another high protein diet and I've never been a fan of those. The only difference is that it has a lot more strict guidelines and tries to reduce fats. But much like u mentioned, these diets can very tedious very quickly, and teach u nothing about the healthy guidelines of eating. I'm not saying this diet doesn't work, most high protein diets will get u weight loss, but they will also make u feel lethargic and cannot be maintained as a life style. My advice is, and always will be, to change ur life style, learn to balance and choose quality over quantity.Sorry if this is a bit long, I tried to be thorough yet brief. Hope it helps! 🙂

  4. Thank u Anonymous! :)Well, sadly there aren't a lot of myths abt alcohol but I'm sure they'll come up in a detailed article soon enough. abt them being fattening, honestly there isn't that's fattening when consumed in moderation – the major issue abt alcohol is that it is high in calories and gets digested/broken down BEFORE food. so what generally happens is that ur body will break down alcohol as a source of energy, then any food u eat after may get stored and turned into fat (this is of course dependent on food and alcohol consumption vs body weight etc…)I can tell u a few more things abt alcohol in terms of "fattening". red wine is approx 74calories/glass of wine (which is around 100ml); beer is around 180calories/glass but a glass of beer is approx 360ml. the general recommendation for men is to not go beyond 2 drinks/day (but obviously not more than 5 days a week) and the most recommended drink is red wine for its antioxidant benefits. Hope this answered ur question! T

  5. Hi Tala,First time reader here. I met your aunt yesterday (in Kuwait) who told me about your blog. My background is also in nutrition so I find it interesting to read what colleagues around the world are doing. It would be nice to be in touch, I look forward to reading your blog regularly. Best,Sara

  6. Howdy exceptional website! Does running a blog such as this require a great deal of work?
    I have no expertise in computer programming but I had
    been hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyway, if you have any ideas or techniques for new blog owners please share.
    I understand this is off topic however I simply had to ask.

    1. Hello!
      Well, honestly I’m a newbie blogger as well. only been doing it for a few months but the feedback has been phenomenal and since I’ve already started writing for 2 other websites. It does take a lot of time, but thats mainly bcz of the material I write about. I need to be thorough and tat requires research. As for computer expertise, I can handle my own – but since I am self-hosting, it does take assistance from someone with a programming background (tho u might be able to do it on ur own with some good guidance). However, if u are going to use a hosting domain such then the startup is quite simple and you shouldn’t have a problem. All the best to u! btw, u can email me at if u have any further questions 😀

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