Thursday, December 11, 2008

Diet Myths & Cooling Cravings

If you’ve wanted to shed some extra pounds, you’ve probably heard and read it all by now, and maybe you’ve even tried half of it, too. With all the information out there these days, it can be hard to pick apart what’s worth trying, what isn’t and separate the solid advice from the bunk. No matter what you hear or read, the simple truth about achieving a healthy weight boils down to getting fit and burning more calories than you consume during the day. Maintaining it means staying fit and not eating more calories than your burn during the day. Sure, there are little things you can do to boost your success or suffer greater setbacks, so let’s look at some popular diet myths and debunk them. We don’t want to waste our time tweaking the wrong things, do we?

Myth 1: Bread and potatoes make you fat.

Completely false. Starchy vegetables and (whole grain) bread, are carbs you need for fuel. The problem is not these foods, but how we tend to prepare them. It’s when you smear your bread with butter and fry your potatoes that you increase the calorie intake as much as four times. Dip your bread in a little extra virgin olive oil or eat it plain instead and dress your baked or boiled potatoes minimally to get the benefits from these foods without skyrocketing your caloric intake.

Myth 2: If you drink water before a meal, you’ll be less hungry.

Well – sort of. Water does curb your appetite if it's incorporated into food like a soup, or a thick vegetable juice like V-8. Apparently, when water is bound to food, digestion is slower and a fuller stomach means fewer hunger pangs. The thing to look out for: It's easy to confuse hunger and thirst, so if you find yourself craving something, drink a big glass of water first and see what happens. It may be that a drink is all your body really wanted.

Myth 3: Shellfish is packed with cholesterol.

On the one hand, it's true. Three ounces of shrimp contain more than a third of your daily cholesterol. But there's more: Shrimp is low in saturated fat and has a bit of omega-3 fatty acids. Eaten in moderation, shellfish can have health benefits. According to researchers at the University of Southern California, eating shellfish every week produced a 59% reduction in heart attack risk. I might just start eating some shellfish once in awhile after learning that.

Myth 4: It’s fine to eat the occasional burger and fries.

The problem: The word, “occasional.” If that means every Friday night to you, you’re probably pushing it. Now, if we’re talking every few months and you're fit, your numbers for weight, waist size, cholesterol, and blood pressure are all good, AND the rest of the time you’re eating vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and other nutritious fare, well, okay then. You’re fine. But few of us are that perfect. If you do “occasionally” indulge, take a nice fast paced 90-minute walk afterward to help offset the effects.

Myth 5: Women can’t do anything about gaining weight after menopause.

While hormones can be blamed for everything from acne to PMS, your fitness level has a much bigger impact on your weight than any hormonal changes that come with age. Most older women who continue vigorous, regular exercise can and do maintain their figures.

Myth 6: Diet soda is worse than the real thing.

Truth is, they’re both lousy for us. Both types increase kidney and heart disease risk, plus they contain acids that erode tooth enamel and welcome cavities. It’s always best to satisfy your thirst with water, diluted fruit juice, and green tea rather than any type of soda.

Well, that’s great to know, you might be thinking – but what do I do when I’ve just GOT to indulge in a little something before I go NUTS??!! I’ll tell ya what. If you’re going to indulge yourself in something sinful and delicious and there’s just no stopping you - do it as early in the day as possible. Researchers say that we get the most satisfaction from our food in the morning and our capacity to feel satisfied steadily weakens over the course of the day. If you eat your biggest meal at breakfast and continue to eat small portions of healthy foods throughout the day, chances are that you’ll be a lot less likely to have strong cravings for unhealthy “comfort” foods in the evening.


Joey said...

Cool beans Tony. Thanks for the info.


Ann said...

And another cool thing, the more you maintain a daily practice of eating lots of vegetables with moderate amounts of good protein and carbs the less you will like the taste of diet sodas, fatty fried & and sugary foods. That's the true cure for cravings - exercise and eat well every single day. I'm amazed at how attuned I am now to how I feel after I eat.

nick from ny said...


I just read in the Post this morning that somebody recently spotted the famous actor, Keanu Reeves, up on Broadway smoking a cigarette in front of some theater. Well, the first thing that came to my mind was that this dude was probably hungry as heck and needed to "replace" his unhealthy cravings with another unhealthy craving, preferably one that wouldn't make him fat or unsightly, albeit very deadly-(:

Isn't that what many of us tend to do regularly? Replace or substitute one bad thing for another? I see this in the office all day long. Somebody will have a carb attack and instead of eating the fake cheddar-stuffed crackers, they'll reach for the enriched "whole-wheat," salt-coated pretzels, all the time thinking that they're really living healthy now?!? And when the bloating and never-ending thirst kick in, what then?? Well, just grab a Coke and wash it all down, right?

As with most aspects of life, it all comes down to knowledge and choice. Before we unknowingly indulge in shortening our lives, we at least owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to try to make some kind of informed decisions as to our overall health. And you precisely spell it out in this great blog. Choose the low glycemic index carbs first, and try to always mix a good protein or fat together with the carb so you feel fuller longer. Ultimately, we need to balance the way the body absorbs "all" its nutrients, and if it's in a can, wrapper or bottle, be prepared to suffer the consequences of blood sugar fluctuations.

Oh, Tony, btw, you got it all over that Tony "Little" guy-;) I tried one of his" advanced" workouts once, and it pales in comparison, believe me, dude!

Buon Natale!

Kevin Fortune said...

Awesome post tony! Looking forward to starting and finally finishing P90X starting Monday!

Ali said...

Thanks for the this post, It's great to get some sound advice like this. I'd be interested to get your take on how our metabolism changes as we age and in particular how that can affect women. I know so many women who try to stay fit but have such a difficult time losing or maintaining weight when they're older, say past age 35 or so. Does older age affect our ability to maintain or lose and if so, how?


Anonymous said...

Great post, its true about eating your biggest meal in the morning. I started doing it, not on purpose though, and noticed that the amount of food I ate decreased during the got to the point that my eavening meals are just a big plate of veggies. I don't know about getting older making it hard to lose wieght. My entire 20s was spent in one failed attempt of loseing weight after another. Once i turned 30 i found P90X and the weight came off faster than i though possible. Age is a poor excuse!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. Thanks Tony! I'm a new coach and I'm on P90X week 2. LOVE IT! Thanks for being an inspiration!

Ali said...

Hey about this whole metabolism thing, I had always heard that with age comes slower metabolism so that is why I was asking...and I just got on the Beachbody boards and through a search found someone saying that is a MYTH! "Since you have lost some mass over the years, your metabolism went down as a result. The fix is simple. Build muscle mass and your metabolism will go back up."

True?? Did NOT know this. However what about all my older girl friends whose bodies seem irreversibly changed due to things like childbirth. I have a good friend who runs mini-marathons, and does cardio out the wazoo and has a stomach pooch she just can't seem to get rid of. She's in great shape but the pooch doesn't go away. She's had 4 children. Is that just something she deals with or can she get rid of that by doing something different?

Just wondering...

M. Keith said...

Hey Tony - Keith here (we met at your DC camp last spring). This is a great post. I hear these kind of myths all the time...especially the part about the "once in a while" burgers and fries. For a lot of my friends, the once and a while comes more and more frequently until their occasional indulgences become their ordinary fare. Oy.
BTW - 30/15??? Hardest workout I've ever done.

Wudpkr said...

Great advise Mr. T

LisaErin82 said...

Hahaha can I add another myth to your already thorough list: Complaining alone will not make the weight vanish and invite good health!!!!!

It seems really obvious to us but I know so many people who approach me cause they know that I'm a personal trainer and ask me what to do to lose the weight--oh man do they open pandora's box because I can go on and on and on and on and on with ideas that they can use, adding 1 at a time or making a drastic change all at once (if they're SUPER committed). But then still.....a month or two down the changes and still complaints of being 'soft' 'out of shape' 'fat' 'nothing changed' etc etc etc.

Marion said...

Many thanks for these tips, dear Tony.

I just began to work out with P90X. I'm really a sports freak and I love to work out myself until I'm almost wasted. :)

Best regards from Germany,

bobbyg said...

Great Reading. I just started myself and I generally just ate dinner at night and a few granola bars during the day. I have been told by many, that I should eat 5 small meals all day which is tough, but I am trying it. Unfortunately, I am gaining weight even with an intense workout. I am starting with Power 90 and doing the cardio, sculpt and AB's 100 each day. Did anyone else experience this???? Thanks, BObby

JAMES said...

I am having trouble droping weight, but I wonder if its because of my new muscle mass.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the info tony, i have always been told that if you want to lose weight you should avoid carbs like the plauge. im only into my third week of p90x and i have already lost 30lbs! thanks for the help and motivation.

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kamagra said...

I'm completly against the diets because it's stupid, just can be if you are sick but for get thin it's stupid... everything that you can eat in this planet it's here for a reason.

xlpharmacy said...

I think that the key besides regulating what we eat, is doing exercises, if dont sweat the fat has nowhere to go, I play tennis and soccer at least three times a week in the nights, and thanks to that I can eat more junk food without gaining any weight at all.

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