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5 Food Fallacies

When it comes to food, dieting, and weight loss, separating facts from fiction can be hard. It's easy to be misled, especially when you read about a new fad diet or see a commercial for a new miracle food.

Here are five common food fallacies to avoid if you want long-term success.

Myth: Skipping breakfast helps you lose weight.

Reality: At first, this might seem like an easy way to cut down on calories. But skipping the important first meal of the day can backfire. Instead of helping you lose weight, missing out on breakfast may promote weight gain. A recent study of students in Greece found that skipping breakfast can contribute to an overall unhealthy lifestyle and a higher body mass index.

Myth: You have to starve yourself to lose weight.

Reality: This is another myth that can have a boomerang effect. Depriving yourself of needed calories may leave you feeling so hungry that you end up overeating and gorging on unhealthy foods. Healthy snacks can help you eat less overall and feel more satisfied. Eating regular, small, balanced meals and snacks gives your body a steady supply of calories to keep up your metabolism and keep you from overindulging because you get too hungry.

Myth: Energy bars help you lose weight and boost stamina.

Reality: Many energy bars are packed with more than the protein they advertise—they also carry high amounts of unwanted sugar, salt, and even fat. Choosing a healthy meal replacement bar or another protein-rich snack may help you cut down on calories, but you have to choose carefully after reviewing the nutritional information on the label.

Myth: Drinks don't contribute to weight gain.

Reality: You might be surprised to learn how many calories you take in each day through beverages. Sipping on a coffee with sugar, syrup, creamer, or a dash of whipped cream can add hundreds of calories to your daily diet. Soda, alcoholic drinks, and even juice all contain a lot of calories that can add up to extra pounds. Your best bets are water, the essential fluid for your body that's also zero calories, and fat-free milk that's low in calories and high in nutrients.

Myth: All fat is bad.

Reality: The term good fat may seem like an oxymoron, but your body needs some fat for fuel and to help cells function properly. Weight gain occurs when you eat too much fat. Also, eating the wrong types of fat—trans fats and saturated fats—pose health risks because they can raise cholesterol, clog your arteries, and increase your risk for heart disease. Healthy, unsaturated fats can actually help improve heart health. You can find healthy fats in fatty fish such as salmon, avocados, nuts, and olive oil.

Losing weight really isn't a mystery. Focus on a balanced eating plan, stay satisfied with nutritious food while limiting portion sizes, and get regular exercise.