Dr Phillip Wuth, Brisbane GP and founder of the science-based weight loss meal program The Doctor's Kitchen, has shed some light on a number of the most widespread myths about weight loss, and discussed the potential truth of some other popular beliefs.
Proactively looking to better your health by changing your diet is a positive step, however there are many pieces of unhelpful and misleading diet 'advice' floating around by word-of-mouth, in magazines and books, and on the internet which you should be aware and wary of.
Below are nine well-known fat loss myths that Dr Wuth has refuted to curb some of the most persistent misinformation within his specialist area:
1. You shouldn't eat more than two eggs per week
"Myth! Eggs are a great source of protein, and eating eggs can support weight loss, especially if you incorporate them into a calorie-controlled diet. Research suggests that eggs boost metabolic activity and increase feelings of fullness. Eating an egg-based breakfast or a high protein breakfast can actually reduce your desire to consume extra calories throughout the day," Dr Wuth explained.
2. Salt is bad for you
"Myth! Our body needs salt however eating too much of it can contribute to high blood pressure, which is linked to conditions like heart failure and heart attack, kidney problems, fluid retention, stroke and osteoporosis.
"You might think this means you need to cut out salt completely, but salt is actually an important nutrient for the human body. Your body uses salt to balance fluids in the blood and maintain healthy blood pressure, and it is also essential for nerve and muscle function. So you still need salt, the key is to reduce your consumption of it not cut it out altogether," Dr Wuth clarified.
3. Natural foods are better than processed foods
"Another myth. All calories are not created equal. While you should aim to increase your intake of whole foods and cut back on processed carbohydrates " like crackers, cookies and high sugar foods, not all natural foods are ideal either," Dr Wuth emphasised.
"Don't be tricked by clever marketing. Many natural food products may not be ideal. While labelling in Australia is good, it isn't great and there are still many products on shelves that claim to be natural that contain things we should avoid such as palm oil. They may even be devoid of any significant nutritional benefit.
"Do your research and learn to read labels. This is the only way to ensure you are getting the fuel and nutrients you need. Increase your consumption of whole foods."
4. Getting thin will automatically make you healthy
"False. Being 'thin' does not mean you are healthy. Many people just assume that if they are thin that they are healthy and have nothing to worry about," Dr Wuth added.
"Getting a body composition test can help assess your body fat and muscle mass to ensure that you are healthy. Not all fat gets stored under the skin. The fat that people can see is referred to as subcutaneous fat, but there's a second type – visceral fat – and it's the worse of the two.
"If you're skinny fat, you likely have a lot of this second type. Having large amounts of visceral fat has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, insulin resistance leading to type 2 diabetes, lower bone mineral density, and loss of cognitive function. So while on the outside, skinny fat people might look healthy, on the inside, their bodies may be at high risk for a number of health problems and syndromes.
"It's not just about weight – and one of the best ways to determine whether you may be skinny fat is to have your body composition analysed and your percentage of body fat determined."
5. Fatty foods are bad for a weight loss
"False, losing weight is based on numbers, not just fat," Dr Wuth said.
"Remember you have to burn more than you eat if you want to lose weight. Just cutting fat out of your diet doesn't mean you're going to lose weight. Maintaining a low intake of fat is a good start, with a healthy portion of carbs and proteins, to help you lose weight. Some fats are good for you and you need to ensure you include them in your diet."
6. Skip breakfast to lose weight
Dr Wuth firmly disagrees with this idea, stating that the popular approach is ineffective when not coupled with calorie counting and an otherwise poor diet.
"Whether you eat or skip breakfast has no effect on the amount of calories you burn throughout the day. This is a myth. Depriving your body of fuel only causes it to conserve, which means you start storing fat. Trick your metabolism into thinking it needs to work harder by eating more smaller meals throughout the day," Dr Wuth said.
7. Carbs need to be cut out entirely As with fatty items, Dr Wuth advises against forgoing entire categories of food.
"Carbohydrates are the body's preferred energy source. Eating a potato, a bowl of pasta, or any type of carbohydrate-rich food won't automatically make you fatter," Dr Wuth stressed.
"The most vital part of any good weight loss diet is portion and calorie control.
"Watch your portion size for weight loss, the number of calories you take in must be lesser than the number of calories you burn in a day. Cutting calories, rather than cutting carbs, is the key to losing weight."
8. Sugar-free products are best for weight loss
"Myth. This presumption, promoted by years of relentless marketing by food and beverage companies, is not backed by medical research or any substantial evidence," Dr Wuth added.
"A common perception is that because 'diet' drinks have no sugar they must be healthier and aid weight loss when used as a substitute for full-sugar versions. However, there is no solid evidence to support this. Sugar-free drinks and meals often have extra energy, usually from added sugars, without the health benefits of other nutrients. And if energy from drinks is not used by our body it will be stored as fat.
"Maintaining a healthy weight takes more than just swapping one product for another. Calories consumed should match calories used, so looking at the whole diet is very important."
9. Red meat is bad for you
"False. Eliminating foods will not lead to weight loss. Eating lean meat in small amounts can be part of a healthy weight-loss plan. Red meat contains vital nutrients that are essential building blocks for our cells. The key is to eat low-fat red meat and only a few portions a week," Dr Wuth emphasised.
The Doctor's Kitchen partners with Youfoodz and local general practitioners to bring medically-based weight loss, health management and wellness solutions to clients all across Australia.
The meal program is prescribed by qualified GPs, and the structured approach simplifies and revolutionises the fat loss process for individuals who struggle to maintain healthy diet. The Doctor's Kitchen program seeks to improve individuals' health and wellbeing while addressing the core issues of the many preventable illnesses that plague our population, including diabetes, sleep apnea, heart and cardiovascular diseases, obesity, fatty liver, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.