This is the fourth and final post in a series about common fitness myths. Start at the beginning here.
I’ll bet you’ve seen this eye-catching warning or something similar plenty of times: “Never Eat These 5 Foods”, “5 Foods to Never Eat”, “7 Veggies that Burn Belly Fat”. They’re usually flashing or scrolling alongside a picture of a banana or some other innocuous-looking thing. If you were bold (or desperate) enough to click on the warning, you were redirected to a 30-minute online infomercial that ended with a big-time sales pitch. But is the stuff they say in that video sales pitch actually true? The world may never know. Or, at least, I will never know.
You never really find anything out in that 30-minute video. You have to buy a product or sign up for a service in order to get the “Fat-burning secrets revealed!” This is the case regardless of which fly-by-night company happens to be using the “5 Foods to Never Eat” or similar marketing slogan (and there are many). One of the infomercial sites I checked out had a free e-book, so I got it (along with lots of spam email) and read through it. About one-third of the information in it was scientifically accurate, probably by coincidence, and the other two-thirds made outrageous and untrue claims, all of which were followed by links to – you guessed it – the proprietor’s online store. Statements like “Stop eating so much fruit” and “Why soy makes you fat” were followed up with nothing but fluff and then a link to “learn more” which I would have only been able to do by buying a premium product.
So the next time you see an ad that promises five surprising foods to avoid, or seven vegetables that melt belly fat, or the four-minute workout that replaces an hour of cardio, listen to your inner skeptic and look away.
The truth is, you already know which foods and beverages to avoid. It doesn’t take me or anybody else to tell you that when eaten regularly, bread, butter, pasta, pizza, chocolate, ice cream, sausage, soda, bacon, beer, creamy beverages, sauces or dressings, baked goods and fried foods will make you fat. Unfortunately, if weight loss is your goal, then there are some healthy foods that are high in calories, too. While they are still preferable to the empty-calorie choices named above, these foods should still only make up a small portion of your diet. Starchy carbs, even whole grains and sweet potatoes, can pack a big calorie punch. Certain fruits are high in fructose and calories, so one or two servings a day should be the limit. If you’re not sure, look at the back of the package, or look up the calorie/sugar/sodium/fat content online (this is the resource I use). Educate yourself, take responsibility for what goes into your mouth, and stop looking for magic cures from online snake oil salesmen.