There's so much information out there about diet and weight loss, and unfortunately, much of it is, to put it kindly–total bunk. Erroneous facts and incorrect assumptions get passed down from mother to daughter, from talk show to TV watcher, and sometimes even from book, magazine, or website to reader.
Enter Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News' Chief Medical Editor, who has written a new, carefully researched and clearly organized book, Diet Myths That Keep Us Fat: And the 101 Truths That Will Save Your Waistline—and Maybe Even Your Life (Crown, $25).
What I love about this book is how she really tackles some of the most entrenched, most bandied-about diet myths today and gives the bottom-line answer in careful, succinct answers so there's little confusion, and very little hedging.
Some of my favorites that I think might be surprising to some people:
1. Weight gain after a splurge isn't all fat. The day after a huge bender at the buffet bar you might weight a few pounds more. Don't worry, says Snyderman—it's mostly water weight caused by extra carbohydrates, which are stored as glycogen which in turn causes an increase in water. There hasn't yet been enough time for those extra calories to accumulate as real pounds gained.
2. You can eat after 8 pm and not gain weight. I'm not sure how this myth got started—I suspect that it has a lot to do with Oprah declaring, a few years ago, that she stopped eating after 7 or 8pm—but there's no reason to stop eating after a certain hour of the day, says Snyderman. What you eat and how much of it all TOTAL is more important than when you eat. It's simple math: To lose weight you must take in fewer calories than you expend.
3. Working out seven days a week can make you less efficient. No need to hit the gym every single day of the week in an effort to lose weight. Turns out, overdoing it can leave you depleted and all your muscles really do need time to repair and rest.
4. Fat cells don't go away. Dieting wont cause a decrease in the number of fat cells you have all total, it will simply shrink the ones you have down. On the flip-side, gaining weight doesn't mean you add more cells, they just balloon up.
5. Blotting your pizza will cut down on some fat and calories. Sure, this may elicit some stares from dining companions (and who knows what Miss Manners would say on the subject) but Snyderman says that patting your greasy slice of pizza down with a paper towel before eating can cut out about 45 calories and 5 grams of fat.
6. Flatulence is a sign of a health diet. Okay, stop giggling—it's true! Snyderman says that someone who rarely passes gas probably isn't eating enough fiber. A diet rich in bran, dried fruits, veggies and legumes (beans, peas, lentils) can mean a few more toots, but hey, it's for a good cause!