From eating five meals a day to obsessive-compulsive calorie counting and slimming secret ingredients, it can be hard to separate the dieting wheat from the chaff. That's why we've gone and got the expert opinion from Valerie Orsoni to myth bust these popular weight loss ideas once and for all.
Myth: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day
We've all heard it before, but does breakfast really have a massive effect on our weight loss? Valerie says no.
"Studies have shown that if you consciously skip it to cut calories then yeah, you will eat more and gain weight. But if you’re not hungry, you don’t have to force yourself. We are not machines, we are all different so you have to find what works for you but there is nothing that says our body has to eat every morning in order to be healthy."
Myth: You should never eat a big meal after 6pm
Anyone who works in an office knows that a big lunch = falling asleep at your desk. But how do you manage to eat before 6pm so you don't have a huge load of food sitting around in your stomach making you fatter every minute?
Little clue, it doesn't and you shouldn't. Valerie says to cut the crazy and think about it logically.
"We still hear that dinner shouldn’t be late because you put on more weight but that is bulls**t. A calorie’s a calorie no matter when you eat it. If you cut your calorie intake after 6pm then obviously you will lose weight because you eat less. But if you take the same amount of calories and eat the exact same thing at 10am or 7pm, you will not gain weight."
Myth: Diet soda is OK for you
Many people believe that swapping from full fat coke to diet coke, or any other soda for that matter, will be healthier. Well wrong.
Valerie says: "Obviously they are bad for you because they are full of sodium but on top of that studies by Catherine Appleton have shown that diet sodas are fattening. Her study was lead over the course of 10 years and she looked at 20 different experiments, which have proven it. If you have a diet soda you will eat 20-25% more at your next meal as it increases your appetite."
Myth: Skipping meals helps sustain weight loss
Big. Fat. NO. If anything, Valerie says it does the total opposite, so never be tempted girls, it will come back to haunt you!
"The thing is, when you start starving, starving, starving, your body goes into famine mode. So what happens is your body stores more calories, so you reduce you metabolism so you will store more, and expend less. So that’s how you go into the yo-yo mode."
Myth: You should eat five small meals per day
Thought all those small meals were good for you? Valerie says that eating five times per day just because you think you have to is total madness.
"It’s ideal to eat every four hours, that’s only if you have a problem with blood sugar. There’s no strict rule, it’s really your choice to eat when you’re hungry. But what is crazy is when people say to eat up to five meals because your body needs a rest to digest your food."
Myth: Caffeine can help you lose weight
There's lots of benefits to coffee, but real weight loss? Nope.
Valerie says: "It's healthy to have one cup of really good coffee per day because of the very high anti-oxidants but it’s not going to make you lose weight. Drinking coffee will increase your heart rate, so yes to an extent because your heart goes faster, you will lose weight but like when you have a fever. It’s not going to help a healthy weight."
Myth: Counting calories is the best way to lose weight
Although limiting your calorie intake if you're going way over your recommended daily allowance is just common sense, getting obsessed with counting cals is counter-productive.
"I don’t want people to become obsessive compulsive with food, I want people to be healthy and so counting calories is not the best way to do this." The trick is to have a healthy, positive relationship with food rather than seeing calories as the enemy.
It's the kind of situation when you have an avocado - around 280 calories, or a packet of crisps - around 200. Similar calorie content but massively different health benefits and fat contents.
Myth: High protein diets are the best
People often go for a protein rich diet thinking it is key to losing weight, but really high protein diets - they're not always so good for you.
Valerie says: "Yes you might lose weight but gosh do you regain it quickly. Your breath smells, you have no energy, you are grumpy, I mean how can you go on a date on a high protein date, the guy can’t even kiss you!"
Myth: Dairy supports weight loss
There's a lot of information about dairy being good for weight loss or the root to all evil, but the idea that it actually helps you lose weight is apparently total madness. While it's healthy to have dairy in your diet depending upon it to help you lose weight isn't the best way to go.
Valerie says: "There was a sudo-study released in the USA which claimed that consuming dairy supported weight loss. But we give dairy to poultry to fatten it up quickly. So how can it make us lose weight and make poultry fatter? It doesn’t make sense? We did a bit of digging and found that the study was commissioned by The Dairy Council of California, the maker of yoghurt and the sample was 12 people over a course of three weeks."
Lesson learnt? Be wary of too-good-to-be-true claims.
Want to know more about weight loss myths? Head over to Le Bootcamp to see what Valerie has to say.
Tweet us at @sofeminineUK with any other major diet myths you think we've missed!