Common Bad Diet Advice To Avoid

Bad diet advice is everywhere! Social media, the web, well-meaning friends and family, and even “experts” you hire can give you horrible, horrible weight loss advice. If suggestions sound weird or too extreme, they probably are! Below are four of the most common worst diet advice offenders that you may want to skip: 

1. Worst Diet Advice: Eat 6 small meals a day

The myth that eating 6 small meals a day “stokes” your metabolism was perpetuated by the health and fitness industry for years. These claims have been found to be completely untrue! And thank goodness, because eating 6 small meals a day can take up a lot of time and energy between all of the planning and preparation required. 

But for some, 6 small meals might be a great fit. One claim made by proponents of eating 6 small meals a day is that it helps keep your blood sugar stable. Whether that’s true or not depends on what you eat during those meals, not on the number of meals. What this strategy can prevent is waiting too long to eat and risking getting hangry – you’re much more likely to make poor choices, not to mention eat way more than you intended to, when you’ve waited too long to eat.

Like everything else, how often you eat is about finding what works for you, and understanding that this advice is not one-size-fits-all. Eating 6 small meals a day is not any better than eating 1-3 meals, it just depends on what works best with your lifestyle and preferences.

2. Eat no more than 1200 calories a day

This piece of worst diet advice makes me insane! Most of you burn more than 1200 calories a day just through carrying out the necessary bodily functions to stay alive, like breathing. On top of that, you burn calories digesting your food, doing non-exercise activity like standing up from a seated position, fidgeting, yard work, or walking around your house. If you exercise, add on some burned calories there (but not as many as you may think, a topic for a future blog).

While to achieve fat loss you do need to burn more calories than you take in, who said you have to be in a deficit of several hundred calories or more? Any deficit, if achieved constantly over a long period of time, will create fat loss. The steeper the deficit, the less likely you are to stick with it. Can 1200 calories per day be appropriate? Yes, but for very few. Typically, a combination of the following factors may indicate that 1200 calories is right for you: You’re female, petite/short (under 5’2”), sedentary, and peri or post menopausal. Otherwise, there’s a good chance that you can eat more calories and still lose weight. Remember, the trick is to eat the most you can while still losing weight, not to eat the least you can. 

3. Eliminate all carbs except for vegetables 

Want to know what happens when you eliminate all carbs except for vegetables? Rage. Just kidding, kind of. When you follow this worst diet advice, your body lets go of a lot of water, which causes a drop in your scale weight. This might lead you to believe that you’re burning more fat, but it’s really just water. Eventually you might enter a calorie deficit because let’s face it, with such limited eating options, you will probably eat a lot less… until you get sick of it, get back to eating normally which includes carbs, and gain back the water weight and then some.

Cutting out carbs is a short term solution that in the long term creates some serious backlash. That’s not to say that a lower carbohydrate diet might not be right for you, as many people do have success lowering their carb intake. More energy, fewer cravings, and better blood sugar regulation are just some of the benefits you might experience, but these benefits usually result from lowering simple carbs, not carbs from whole food sources altogether. Check out some of my favorite complex carb sources here. Find the amount that is right for you. 

4. Detox

If you have a functioning liver and kidneys, congrats! You’re already detoxing, that is, removing toxins from your body. Detox plans consist of some sort of severe calorie restriction, and they are often liquid based. Drink green juice for 3-7 days and you will lose weight, but a much higher proportion of this weight loss will be muscle and water. Instead, stick with a much more sustainable plan that will result in slower weight loss, but with a higher proportion of the resulting weight loss coming from fat stores. 

For more help with maintaining and losing weight, consider the Shapa scale. Be sure to read this article for information about how Shapa can help you reach your weight loss goals. This unique system gives you feedback about your weight, but not in pounds. You can read more about how Shapa works here.

Just because detox kits are a huge waste of money, it doesn’t mean you can’t implement some aspects of them to feel better and get healthier. For example, detox plans call for lots of water, nutrients, and elimination of processed foods. Why not aim to drink more water, eat plenty of whole foods including fruits and vegetables, and cut down on processed foods? The trick to healthier living is not to go all or nothing, but to consistently make slightly better decisions over time. 

The Worst Diet Advice Conclusion

There’s so much good advice out there, but there’s just as much (if not more!) bad advice. As you head into the New Year, anxious for a new beginning, keep in mind that it’s not about finding the “perfect plan,” but it’s about finding what you can do in your life each day that’s just a little better than before.  

About Shapa:

Looking to sleep better, eat a bit healthier, build a practice of self-care, or just want to feel more energetic each day? Let Shapa be your virtual coach. Shapa focuses your program based on YOUR lifestyle and YOUR goals so you can build healthy habits and achieve lasting results. Learn more about the Shapa difference.

About the author: 

Sharone completed her Masters of Science in Nutrition and Education at Columbia University. Having overcome her own not-so-great relationship with food, she is passionate about helping others achieve their health and weight loss goals while finding balance. She enjoys hanging out with her two daughters, husband, giant dog, and cat, especially all together when shenanigans are involved. To learn more about scheduling a nutrition counseling session with Sharone, click here. For more tips and tricks for nutritious living, check out Sharone’s Instagram and Twitter.

Check out more of Sharone’s articles on the Shapa Blog here.

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