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Zombie Food Myths
They refuse to die!

Zombie Myths
What's the truth hiding behind those Zombie Myths?

There are a lot of myths about food and dieting that just won't go away. I call them zombie myths, because no matter how many times you try to kill them, they won't die. Don't be fooled. Here are three myths that should be stopped for good. 

"It doesn't matter what you eat. It's all about the calories."

To prove a point, Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University, ate a diet filled with junk food. Twinkies, Oreos, Doritos chips and Little Debbie snacks were his breakfast, lunch and dinner. BUT, he ate fewer overall calories than he used to, so he lost weight. Over 10 weeks, Mark Haub lost 27 pounds.

Weight loss wasn't the only benefit. Mark also lowered his "bad" cholesterol (LDL) by 20 percent and he raised his "good" cholesterol (HDL) by 20 percent. His body mass index dropped from overweight to normal.   

What that proved is how important calories are to weight loss. If your only goal is to lose weight, eat fewer calories or burn more off through exercise.

What many news outlets failed to report was that Mr. Haub didn't JUST eat junk food. He drank a shake to get protein and he ate vegetables every day. It wasn't just sugar and fat that sustained him. Research has shown that there are several nutrients critical to a long life.

Take fiber. Harvard researchers found that getting enough fiber in your diet can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by an amazing 40%. People who have diets higher in cereal fiber also have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are all good for us when eaten in food. Calories do matter, but for long-term health you need the nutrients provided from a balanced diet.

"Lose weight by eating negative calorie foods."

Every food has calories, even if they're small. A cup of chopped celery has 14 calories. It's a tiny amount, but the calories are there.

When people claim a food has negative calories, what they mean is that the energy to digest the food is greater than what the food provides. It's called the thermic effect of food.

So how many calories does it take to digest food? The most commonly accepted number is about 10%. Of course, that varies depending on the food you eat, with some being much higher than others. But the overall average is only 10%.

Eating low-calorie foods like celery, cucumbers, tomatoes, kale and the like aren't bad for you. In fact, those are all very healthy choices. But they do have calories, and you have to account for ALL the calories you eat daily if you're trying to lose weight. 

"Fat-free and lower-fat foods are healthier than regular versions."

For every full-fat product, there seems to be a low-fat or fat-free version. Hundreds of fat-free products are now for sale. It's been over 20 years since products like Nabisco's Snackwell's fat-free cookies have been available, and America's obesity problem has only gotten worse.

When fat is removed, things often don't taste as good. So food companies pump low-fat foods full of extra sugar and salt. Think that fat-free cookie is healthy? Wrong. Here's what happens when you eat it.

The sugar from a fat-free product hits the liver. Then your body tries to process it. With more sugar coming in than your body can handle in a single sitting, your liver turns much of that sugar into fat.

Most low-fat and fat-free foods are things you shouldn't eat much of anyway. They're often cookies, crackers, pastries and sweets. Fat-free candy isn't a healthy choice, it's candy.

When you see low-fat or fat-free on the package, it's not a green light to binge. You still have to read the nutrition label to see if the calories, sugar and salt are worth it.

Quit believing or passing on these zombie myths.

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