10 More Stubborn Food Myths That Just Won’t Die, Debunked by Science

From LifeHacker blog:

When we tackled the topic of food myths last month, our inbox was flooded with more reader-submitted followup myths than we could debunk at one time. We asked our nutritionists back to debunk some more common misconceptions about food, health, and nutrition that are still widely believed, even though there’s overwhelming evidence to the contrary. We also asked them some of your questions. Here’s what they said.

Myth 1: Skipping a Single Meal Will Slow Your Metabolism and Force Your Body into “Starvation Mode”

Many of you brought this one up after our last article. You rightfully pointed out that when we debunked the “Don’t Eat After X:00pm” myth, we said that skipping a meal will cause the body to enter starvation mode and encourage overeating the next day. We went back to Boston-based nutritionist and wellness counselor Alannah DiBona, who made the intial claim, with your skepticism.

“I love being taken to task,” she said, and went on to explain that your suspicions were correct. Skipping a meal does not appreciably change your metabolic rate, and it certainly doesn’t send your body spinning into a fat-saving “starvation mode.” However, that doesn’t mean you should skip eating if you’re hungry and the clock happens to be have passed an arbitrary time. When you do, your blood sugar plummets, which results in cravings and increased hunger pangs. When you do sit down to your next meal, your body will send you messages that you’re hungrier than you actually are, and you’re likely to overeat. The best advice? Eat when you’re hungry, and eat something appropriate for the time of day. If it’s 9pm and you’re not headed to bed for another three hours, have a light snack instead of going to bed hungry.

As for the so-called “starvation mode?” DiBona notes that it actually takes two to three weeks of consistently low caloric intake and at least 24-hours of no caloric intake for your body to compensate with significant metabolic shifts. The United Nations University has an excellent (if not old) paper on the effect of low and no-calorie diets on people of otherwise normal weight that illustrates exactly when the basal metabolic rate begins to trend downward after a dietary change. 

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SOURCE: By Alan Henry at Lifehacker.com. Andy Bellatti, MS, RD is a Seattle-based nutritionist and the author of the nutrition blog Small Bites. You can follow him on Twitter at @andybellatti. Alannah Dibona, MA, MS, is a Boston-based nutritionist and wellness counselor, and the woman behind mindbodysportconsulting.com.

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