If you tried to list every diet that exists, you would be at it for a very long time.
There is an endless list of DIY diets you can try.
While there is a lot of information about these diets, and all of the others out there, there are also a lot of misconceptions about them.
The nutrition and diet industry is full of conflicting information.
In this article, I’ll break down each of the top ten myths and misconceptions about diets so you can understand the truth and get rid of the rest.
1. There Is One Best Diet
The diet industry survives on this belief. Everyone is searching for the magic pill, the answer to all of their problems, the last diet they will ever need.
The single best diet does not exist.
No matter how many DIY diets you try, you will likely fail and return to the drawing board looking for the next most promising option. This is how the cycle perpetuates. This is also how you waste your time, energy, and money.
The best “diet” isn’t a diet at all. It is a sustainable, well-balanced approach that can help you achieve your goals slowly while allowing you to maintain a positive relationship with food and with your body.
2. Diets Must Be Restrictive To Yield Results
If you cut your calorie intake in half or remove an entire food group from your diet, you will likely lose weight. However, you will also be missing out on the nutrients your body needs to run optimally.
Everyone is looking for a quick fix that will allow them to achieve their goals in the shortest time possible. However, when we take this approach, we throw sustainability right out the window.
What is the purpose of losing 20 pounds in a month if you gain it back the next month?
If we focus on the long game instead of the immediate gratification, it is possible to eat the foods you enjoy while still making progress toward your goals. Better still, if you take a sustainable approach, you are much more likely to be able to maintain the results you achieve.
3. The Less I Eat The More Successful I Am
This goes hand in hand with the last myth. Eating less and restricting yourself is not the way to achieve and maintain weight loss.
Our bodies are intelligent, and they are adaptable. If you drastically reduce the amount of food you are eating, your body will find a way to live on less food. Over time this is harmful to your metabolism and makes losing weight more difficult.
While eating less may feel like a win, it’s a loss for your body in the long run.
4. Cutting Out Food Groups Is The Key To Success
The only time it is necessary to cut entire food groups is in the case of an allergy or sensitivity to a particular food.
If you are allergic to peanuts, please cut them out. If you have celiac disease, please eliminate gluten. If you simply believe that cutting out a food or food group is going to help you lose weight, it will not.
Think about your previous attempts to cut out foods or food groups. For example, if you said, “I am never eating pizza again,” you would likely be able to avoid pizza for a while. You may even start to feel better about yourself for achieving this goal.
However, what happens when you’re starving at a party with friends and the only food around is pizza? I’m going to guess at some point, you will eat the pizza. Likely, you will even eat more pizza than you may have wanted to because you’ve been restricting it.
At that point, you’ll likely feel like a failure, and that guilt may make you want to eat even more pizza.
This cycle is known as the binge-restrict cycle and it is common among people who diet. It’s also the reason we continue to seek out diet after diet thinking we are failing at dieting when in fact, the diet is failing us.
Cutting out foods you love is not necessary. You can eat the foods you like and still achieve your goals.
5. Carbs Are Bad
No foods are bad foods. No foods are off-limits. No foods, including carbs, should be eliminated from our diets.
Carbs are our body’s primary source of energy. They fuel our workouts and our day-to-day activities.
Without carbs, many people experience decreased energy levels and brain fog because our bodies and our brains need them to run optimally.
Additionally, carbs contain fiber, which is necessary for proper digestion.
All of that is to say that carbs are not bad, they are necessary.
If you cut carbs from your diet, you will likely see weight loss. This is because when our bodies store carbs, they store water with them. The majority of the weight loss you see when cutting carbs is water loss, not fat loss.
Again, you do not have to cut any food group to achieve your goals.
6. Fat Is Bad
I said it before and I’ll say it again, there are no bad foods.
Just like carbs, fat is an essential nutrient for our bodies.
Certain vitamins need fat to be absorbed by our bodies, meaning that if you are cutting out fat, you may also become deficient in those nutrients.
Fat is also an important energy source for our bodies, our cells, and our hormones.
One more time, you do not need to eliminate entire food groups to make progress.
7. I Just Need To Do A Detox
A detox is the ultimate quick fix. It may be a juice cleanse, water fast, or just a very strict regimen for a few days.
Regardless of the type of detox you are doing, it is not a sustainable solution.
Our bodies have two built-in detox systems: our liver and our kidneys. These organs are designed to eliminate toxins from our bodies and keep us running optimally.
One of my favorite ways to evaluate if a change you are making is going to work or not is to ask the question, can you do this forever? If the answer is no, it’s like not a good solution.
Instead, you are better off spending your time and energy laying the groundwork for a sustainable solution that you can build upon and maintain.
8. Losing Weight Is My Goal; I’ll Figure Out Maintenance Later
As I just said, if you can’t do it forever, it’s likely not the answer.
If you are solely focused on losing weight and doing whatever it takes to get there, you will likely lose the weight.
And you will likely gain it all back.
Achieving maintenance is hard when you take an extreme approach to get to your goal.
Instead of learning how to lose weight and then learning how to maintain it, try making sustainable changes that will allow you to find the middle ground where you’re making progress, but not likely to rebound.
9. I Need Supplements To Make Progress
Supplements should supplement a varied, well-balanced diet.
Relying on pills and powders is not the answer. Taking a food-first approach to optimizing your nutrient intake is.
If you need specific supplements to fill in gaps in your diet, you should take them. Your doctor and dietitian can help you figure out what you need.
However, having a whole lineup of supplements is likely a waste of money that can be spent on high-quality, nutrient-dense foods.
10. Fad Diets Work
At this point, you can probably guess the answer here. Fad diets do not work.
Quick fixes, drastic approaches, and restrictions are not the way to achieve optimal health.
Taking a moderate approach that is balanced and sustainable is the key to the lasting success you are truly looking for.
So, What Is The Answer?
The truth is that everyone is different. No two people are the same, and no two diets should be either.
DIY diets that you are expected to be able to take and run with and achieve amazing results are a hoax. Very few, if any, individuals find lasting success dieting.
Here at OnPoint Nutrition, we help people just like you who are frustrated with DIY diets and need a real solution.
If you feel like you have tried every diet and need something that will work for you once and for all, schedule a free consultation with our team.
Liz has been reading nutrition labels since she learned how to read. Growing up with severe peanut and tree nut allergies she learned that it’s important to know what you are putting into your body. She made her first big lifestyle change as a freshman in high school, when she decided to become a vegetarian. However, it wasn’t until she took a food class in Italy as part of a study abroad program in college that it clicked in her mind that she wanted to make food and nutrition her career. Liz graduated from Penn State University in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition, as well as a bachelor's degree in Marketing. She completed her dietetic internship with Aramark in Philadelphia, and her master's degree at Northeastern University shortly after.