"Artificial sweeteners are fine because they don't rack up calories like sugar does," she told the interviewer.
"Wait, did she really just say…" I replied, looking aghast. My friend and I were driving to Palm Springs, listening to a podcast with a popula celebrity trainer who clearly still subscribed to the calories-in-calories-out myth.
Her comment showed she was clueless or oblivious about numerous studies that show among its damages, artificial sweeteners can stall fat loss and trigger sugar cravings.
Over the past few decades, nutrition thinking has evolved dramatically. We now know sugar, not dietary fat, makes you fat. We know you don't need to spend hours in the gym to build muscle.
Yet in other ways, some nutrition experts remain stuck in the dark ages. Here are seven still-prevalent fat loss myths I want to bury.
To lose weight and keep it off successfully, some experts recommend doing it slowly. Yet one 18-month study found folks who lost fat quickly kept it off better and weren't as likely to rebound. That makes sense considering when your skinny jeans fit looser, you keep motivated and stay the course.
Safely lose fat quickly by making every meal a combo of lean, clean protein, healthy fats, non-starchy veggies, and slow-release high-fiber starches like quinoa.
Every time you eat, you raise fat-storing insulin. Snacking, mini-meals, or whatever you call them crank up insulin and keep your fat-burning doors locked. Taking a food break between meals encourages your body to grab and burn those fat stores.
And be honest, you're probably not eating wild salmon or spinach for mini-meals. You're reaching for high-sugar impact snacks loaded with food intolerances and junk ingredients, leaving you hungry and craving more sugar. Do blood-sugar-steadying meals correctly every four to six hours and you'll almost never need to snack.
This gargantuan cliché refuses to die. Over time, moderation can stall fat loss. It gives you license to eat things you shouldn't eat.
Moderation creates a slippery slope, sets you up for cravings, creates or exacerbates food intolerances, and fails to account for the potential long-term damage certain foods can do. No "moderate" levels exist for ingredients like trans fats, artificial sweeteners, and high-fructose corn syrup.
Call it organic, name it something pretty, put it in a healthy-looking package, but sugar is sugar is sugar. Artificial sweeteners are dangerous, and there's no way around it.
Coconut sugar might contain some nutrients, and might be one of the safer ways to satisfy your sweet tooth, but it still breaks down to glucose and fructose like table sugar. Agave, high in liver-wrecking fructose, might be the biggest scam, qualifying as "low-glycemic" but creating serious metabolic mayhem.
"Skinny" has become the new "lite" as manufacturers and restaurants proudly boast these low-calorie (usually junk) foods. You can have a "skinny" latte with your gluten-loaded, low-calorie breakfast sandwich, sip a "skinny" margarita (with chips and salsa, of course), and enjoy a "skinny" flatbread sandwich at dinner, all while sticking within your calorie quota.
Sorry to break it to you, but these are all "healthy" foods that are making you gain.
These "skinny" foods are often high-sugar impact, exacerbate food intolerances, trigger cravings, and create a halo effect where you're bound to grab seconds and thirds.
Food becomes information, not numbers, and nutrients create different physiological effects and play distinct roles for fat burning.
You know 500 calories of wild-caught salmon and spinach—rich in protein, healthy fats, fiber, and nutrients—will help you burn fat, crush cravings, and dial down hunger far better than 500 calories of empty-nutrient fettuccine Alfredo, right?
Your turn: What outdated, erroneous nutrition myth do you wish would disappear? Share yours below or on my Facebook page.