And it’s not just diets either. General eating habits that seem healthy, or that celebrities swear by, are often just plain bad for you.
We spoke to registered dietitian-nutritionist Karen Ansel about 11 ways you’re eating food — or not eating it — that aren’t doing you any favors.
Keep scrolling to see what eating habits you can do without.
It can be tempting to want to shed pounds fast when you’re looking to lose some weight. And while slashing hundreds of calories from your daily intake will result in weight loss, it probably won’t result in the kind of weight loss you want.
According to Ansel, when you lose weight, your body burns fat. Deprive yourself of too many calories, though, and your body will start burning muscle instead of fat. This can then slow down your metabolism since your muscles are the part of your body that are most metabolically active.
So while you might be thinner, Ansel said you might end up being “flabby” too, thanks to all the muscle you’re losing. She recommends dropping no more than one to two pounds per week for sustainable weight loss.
Chances are you’ve done it before. You come off a week of “bad” eating and too much drinking, telling yourself that you need to detox to get your body back to a healthy state. But according to Ansel, detoxing just isn’t necessary.
“The truth is, our bodies have their own unique cleansing mechanism built right in,” Ansel told INSIDER. She explains that your liver breaks down toxins that enter your body, and your kidneys then flush them out.
Besides denying your body the nutrients it needs, cleanses promote the unhealthy mentality that you can eat and drink whatever you want because you’re going to end up cleansing it all out later. Ansel said you’ll be much healthier — and happier — if you maintain a consistently healthy diet.
In recent years, many have come to associate carbs with weight gain. But that’s not the whole story. According to Ansel, it’s the kinds of carbs you’re eating that determine whether or not you’ll pack on pounds.
Highly processed carbs that are found in foods like crackers, white rice, pizza, and mashed potatoes are digested very quickly, Ansel said. This means that you’re more likely to get hungry right after eating these kinds of carbs, causing you to overeat and possibly gain weight.
But eating healthy carbs — the kind that are found in quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes, and beans — can actually aid in weight loss because they’re loaded with fiber. Fiber fills us up, therefore keeping us fuller for longer.
While cutting out gluten can work wonders for those who struggle with Celiac Disease or a gluten sensitivity, it can backfire for those who have no reason to avoid gluten.
According to Ansel, most foods that contain gluten also contain flour that is fortified and enriched with B vitamins like folate and iron. Studies have shown that by not eating these foods, we can become deficient in those nutrients, Ansel told INSIDER.
According to Ansel, skipping meals often leads to overindulging. Let’s say you skip breakfast, and then only eat a small lunch. By dinner, you’re likely to be starving, causing you to make unhealthy choices, like inhaling a bag of chips or a sleeve of Oreos.
This late-night eating can then become a self-fulfilling prophecy, Ansel told INSIDER. If you overeat at night, you probably won’t be hungry for breakfast the next morning, and so the meal-skipping cycle begins again.
Although it may seem like you’re eating less by grazing all day instead of eating actual meals, all you’re really doing is messing with your body’s natural feelings of fullness and hunger, Ansel said. She told INSIDER that your body is programmed to eat, spend some time digesting, and then get hungry again. Eating every few hours is not only unnecessary, but it also derails this process.
Plus, Ansel said it’s harder to eat healthy when you’re constantly eating smaller snacks as opposed to a larger meal. Getting all the nutrients you need into all the mini meals you’re eating takes careful preparation and planning that not many people are willing or have the time to do.
Besides the fact that calorie counting often becomes an obsessive habit, it also doesn’t guarantee that what you’re eating is healthy.
“You can count calories all day long and still be eating foods that aren’t healthy for you,” Ansel said. And since some calories are burned more efficiently than others, Ansel told INSIDER that calories don’t provide the whole picture of what you’re consuming.
Instead, Ansel suggests practicing “calorie awareness.” She said it’s important to know roughly how many calories your body needs in a day, and then to keep that number in mind when choosing what to eat. For example, if you’re a woman, and you’re ordering a burrito bowl that packs 1,000 calories, know that you’re consuming around two thirds of your daily caloric intake in one meal.
All food groups contain different nutrients that our bodies need, Ansel said. Meat, poultry, and fish, for example, have protein, iron, and zinc, while fruits and vegetables have phytonutrients, fiber, and vitamins A and C. Dairy is essential for getting calcium.
Cutting a food group out completely means your body is no longer receiving some of those essential nutrients, which is why Ansel told INSIDER that any diet that nixes a certain food group probably isn’t the healthiest diet.
According to Ansel, there’s room in every diet for some “unhealthy food.” She said that anyone who tries to eat 100% healthy all of the time likely won’t be able to sustain that lifestyle, and will end up overindulging at some point when their cravings become too hard to ignore.
“Eventually you’re going to have dessert, and when you do it’s going to be a lot more than you would have had if you just let yourself have an ice cream cone in the first place when you wanted it,” Ansel told INSIDER.
Some people — most notably Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen— have begun to shy away from these foods in recent years. Ansel told INSIDER that the most common theory surrounding nightshades is that they cause inflammation, which leads to weight gain, but she said there is no research that proves this and therefore no reason to avoid these fruits and veggies.
Eating too much protein — especially at night
While protein is essential for building muscle, too much of it can cause dehydration and even fat gain. Although the exact amount you should be consuming is different for everyone and depends on your weight, there’s a simple equation you can use to figure out just how much you should be eating.
Ansel also told INSIDER that Americans tend to eat the bulk of their protein at night, when they should really be eating it throughout the day. Protein helps you stay full between meals, and eating it right before bed is doing you no favors. If you eat more protein than you need at dinner, your body will either break down the excess and excrete it or store it as fat instead of muscle, according to Ansel.
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Originally published at www.businessinsider.com