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The truth about carbs and diets

Does grapefruit burn fat, does coffee stunt one's growth? Jharna Thakkar tries to demystify seven diet-linked myths.

health and fitness Updated: Jul 24, 2007 19:45 IST
Jharna Thakkar
Jharna Thakkar
Hindustan Times

We aren't dealing with an excerpt from J R R Tolkien's The Lord of The Rings, which believed that "History became legend. Legend became myth."

True, tales on all things food and nutrition do really seem to linger for years, just like urban legends. Remember the rumour that said grapefruit burns fat? Or how coffee stunts your growth?

No doubt, the best of us have fallen prey to weight-loss myths. It's easy enough with the incessant crop of fad diets promising a quick fix -lemonade diet, raw food movement, no carbs and other detox diets.

Most of these far-fetched concepts are just that. We drew up a list of the seven most common whims that just have to go:

Organic food is more nutritious
<b1>Studies that have compared organic and conventionally grown foods show that while organic produce may be higher in certain antioxidants, there are no nutritional advantages. An organic cheese puff is still a cheese puff.

Olive oil has fewer calories than other fats
Somehow, with the whole noise around the heart-health benefits of olive oil, people forget that it's still a fat. All oils are 100 per cent fat and supply the same number of calories - about 120 per tablespoon.

"Light" olive oil has nothing to do with the amount of calories... it simply refers to the flavour.

Fasting gets rid of body toxins
A fast may give you the perception of "cleaning out" your impurities but there is no evidence that this is true. Our body is self-sufficient. We have a detox system that filters out harmful products on a daily basis.

Multigrain foods are made with whole grains
The only way to know for sure is to see if the word "whole" is in front of every grain in the ingredient list.

Multigrain only means the product was made using several grains. Don't assume they were whole.

Low-fat means low calories
If you see the word "low" on the label, look a little further. Check the serving sizes and the number of calories, because low-fat foods often contain the same amount or more calories than regular versions.

Skipping breakfast helps to lose weight
Studies indicate that breakfast skippers compensate those missed calories by eating more throughout the day. People who regularly eat breakfast tend to have better luck losing weight, so just pick up your spoon and eat that cereal. Calories consumed at night are more fattening. It is the total calories that count, not the time of day you eat them.

Many diet books may warn you against eating after 8 p m, but there is no "witching hour" that makes food more likely to adhere to your hips. Ask Shakira.

First Published: Jul 24, 2007 19:01 IST