Health coach busts 11 common diet myths

Via Peters

A health coach has debunked some of the most common weight loss myths that lead us astray – and revealed tips for lasting weight loss. 

UK-based Graeme Tomlinson, author of Lose Weight without Losing Your Mind, explained dieters can fall victim to following the ‘loudest’ advice rather than the best, including popular weight loss mantras like ‘ditch carbs’ and ‘never eat after 6pm’.

In reality all these hard-and-fast rules are almost impossible to follow to the letter and people feel discouraged and unhappy when they inevitably fail. Often this leads to them scrapping their weight loss regime before they’ve even gotten started.

‘The truth is, if you want to lose weight or change the way you eat, you don’t need to go on a special diet or suffer to the hands of diet myths,’ he tells FEMAIL, adding that instead the key is moderation and simple changes that build up over time. 

Here, Graeme reveals the 11 diet myths you can forget for good – and what to do instead if you want to see lasting results…  


Numbers don’t matter: Graeme says photos are a much better way to measure progress than the scales, which can change based on something as small as how much water you’ve had 

Stepping on the scales each day or week is the most common method people use to measure progress when trying to lose fat. 

I have heard hideous stories of people dehydrating themselves all day so they weigh less and avoid public humiliation at their slimming club.

If people weigh less or more compared to yesterday or the week before, they are told they are progressing or failing.

THE TRUTH: Those scales are measuring much more than body fat

Our weight represents muscle, water, food and often clothing, and the weight of these can fluctuate on a daily or weekly basis. 

Water weight, for example, can change dramatically, and temporarily, in relation to a person’s carb and salt consumption. Try taking progress photos instead. 

These are a much more accurate measuring tool in the short term and enable you not to hinge your self-worth on a number.


Don't turn your back on bread: Carbs are fine as part of a balanced, nutrient-rich diet

Don’t turn your back on bread: Carbs are fine as part of a balanced, nutrient-rich diet

There is no scientific evidence that states you will lose fat by banning carbs. 

Those who tell us to ban bread and pasta or go keto might find some flimsy individual study to support their low carb agenda. But rigorous science draws conclusions from a wide range of studies, and there is an overwhelming body of evidence to support that a calorie deficit results in fat loss.

THE TRUTH: Focus on adding protein, not taking away carbs 

You can eat any mix of protein, carbs and fat, as long as your total calorie intake is less than your calorie burn, but eating at least 1g of protein per kg of bodyweight each day has been shown to be beneficial for fat loss. 

This is because protein burns more calories during digestion and helps us feel fuller.


Health coach Graeme Tomlinson shares his weight loss advice with FEMAIL

Health coach Graeme Tomlinson shares his weight loss advice with FEMAIL

Fat is the most calorie dense macronutrient with 9 calories per gram. 

It is labelled as fat causing because high amounts of fat contain high amounts of calories. But eating fat does not inherently make us fat.

THE TRUTH: You can eat fat and lose weight

Overall calories should be our key consideration.

Just like carbs, there is no rigorous science that suggests it’s the fat that makes you fat.

A high fat diet may make it a little more difficult to control calorie intake compared to one well balanced with protein and carbs too, but you can eat fat and lose weight.


The gym is good, but it's not the only way:  The key is regular activity that you can build up over time, Graeme says. If the gym is not for you then don't worry - just try something else

The gym is good, but it’s not the only way:  The key is regular activity that you can build up over time, Graeme says. If the gym is not for you then don’t worry – just try something else

The gym has become synonymous with weight management with many convinced they need to take out expensive memberships if they want to shed body fat.

THE TRUTH: Doing an activity you enjoy will help you sustain fat loss goals

While it can be useful, for some, when it comes to motivation and goals other than weight loss, any activity of your choice is just as likely to help you lose weight. 

Exercise of any sort, even walking, contributes to your calorie deficit. 

The key is finding an activity you enjoy enough to keep doing it regularly – start by doing it for just 15 minutes a day and build up. 

Asking a friend to join you will help you stick to it, as you’re letting your friend down if you don’t show up. The more you enjoy something, the longer you’ll stick at it which will help you sustain your fat loss goals.


Enjoy your dinner! Graeme said the idea you shouldn't eat later in the day is laughable

Enjoy your dinner! Graeme said the idea you shouldn’t eat later in the day is laughable

This one is really funny and I’m amazed it still gets credibility in some circles. 

Claims like ‘your body can’t metabolise food at night’ or ‘food you eat at night turns to fat because you don’t move to burn it off’ are baseless and frankly laughable.

THE TRUTH: Your metabolism doesn’t stop, or change based on the time of day

You can absolutely eat after 6pm without gaining unwanted fat – the key is your total calorie intake across the day. 

But, if snacking on top of meals, especially in the evening, is contributing to calorie excess you may want to address this and take action. 

Graeme’s 7 simple rules to lose weight without losing your mind

  • Calculate your calorie deficit – using a reliable online calculator.
  • Create a gradual decrease in calories consumed – by tracking calories and sticking to the target the calculator gives you.
  • Increase your protein and fibre intake – to increase energy expenditure and feel fuller for longer.
  • Implement small diet and lifestyle changes – that are easy to stick to.
  • Be flexible and relaxed in your mindset – failure doesn’t exist and there is always tomorrow to help you stay on track.
  • Choose activities and exercise that you enjoy – and that you can sustain while increasing your daily step count.
  • Aim to be imperfect – there’s no need to put pressure on yourself.

If you are struggling to give up your evening snacks completely, try switching them for a lower calorie option instead – e.g. swapping a 51g Mars Bar for a 51g Mars Ice Cream reduces your calorie intake by 88 calories. 

Whilst consumption of lower calorie versions may not be immediately significant, they can be over a period of time. 

If you swapped your daily Mars Bar over the course of a year, you’d consume 32,120 fewer calories.


Of all the misinformation doing the rounds, this one is perhaps the most ridiculous. 

People promoting this drink claim it helps you lose fat, makes you ‘bulletproof’, gives you more energy and clears brain fog.

THE TRUTH: Claims like this are pseudoscience

For fat loss, adding hundreds of calories of butter (a very calorie dense food) to a drink that can be consumed in a few short minutes is nonsensical. 

Regarding energy, you most likely more have more energy because you drank caffeine, a stimulant.

But you could have done this without adding piles of saturated fat which, if continued over time can negatively impact your cardiovascular health. 

If you want to lose fat, reducing volume of calorie dense foods is a good idea. If you want to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, reducing saturated fat consumption is a good idea.

Changing what you drink throughout the day can help you lose weight but this isn’t the way to do it. Instead, there are loads of simple low calorie switches you can do – e.g. try switching your large whole milk latte, for a small 2% milk latte or full fat Coke to zero-sugar.


Recently we have seen a wave of so-called health gurus label vegetable oils as toxic and poisonous and laud coconut oil and butter (heavy in saturated fat) as healthful. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

THE TRUTH: Vegetable oils can benefit cardiovascular health

Vegetable oils are unsaturated and too much saturated fat, which things like butter and coconut oil are high in, can raise LDL cholesterol, resulting in increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The evidence is clear. 

If you enjoy cooking with olive oil or adding it to the food you eat, science says doing so will benefit your health, not harm it.


Not a fast pass to good health: Veganism can be a healthy lifestyle choice but there are other ways to be healthy while still consuming animal products, Graeme insists

Not a fast pass to good health: Veganism can be a healthy lifestyle choice but there are other ways to be healthy while still consuming animal products, Graeme insists 

Many claim that simply eating a plant-based diet will automatically improve your health.

THE TRUTH: Animal produce is high in vitamins and minerals too

This one is entirely about realising the context. If you previously had a diet high in processed, low quality animal produce then switching to a plant-based diet would likely improve your health.

But if you currently have a diet rich in fresh, high-quality animal produce high in vitamins and minerals and also include lots of plants, going vegan will simply eliminate important nutrients from you diet. 

I think we can all agree that eating more plants benefits our health but including quality animal products can still support our well-being. 

Graeme Tomlinson shares his advice in his book, Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind

Graeme Tomlinson shares his advice in his book, Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind

Whether you are plant-based or not, increasing the amount to 7-10 portions of fruit and vegetables per day as often as possible will contribute to greater health over time.


One of the most popular diet methods in recent times is to eat just 800 calories per day to lose fat.

THE TRUTH: You can eat a lot more than 800 calories a day and still lose weight

To lose fat you need to create a calorie deficit. But you want it to be sustainable so you can stick to it and enjoy your life – not feel hungry and lethargic. 

Following 800 calories a day is either unsustainable or an eating disorder waiting to happen. Moreover, we are all different sizes and have different calorie needs. This extreme crash-cut in calories will likely make you miserable.

You can eat a lot more than 800 calories per day, still lose fat and crucially, be happy. For example, a 35 year-old woman, 5ft 6 and weighing 80kg could lose fat by eating 1,600 calories per day even if she didn’t exercise much, or even 2,200 calories per day if she was very active. 

Though fat loss will take longer, it is likely to be a lot more sustainable and enjoyable.


Get rid of the guilt! Stop thinking about 'good' food or 'bad' food, Graeme advises

Get rid of the guilt! Stop thinking about ‘good’ food or ‘bad’ food, Graeme advises

Many claim that eating individual foods makes us healthy or unhealthy, often claiming specific foods make us lean, fat, disease curing or disease causing.

THE TRUTH: This attitude can damage mental health

Despite the fearmongering, no food individually makes you fat or unhealthy, just like no food makes you lean or healthy. 

The number of calories and nutrients you eat over time define how much body fat you have and contribute to how healthy you are. 

You don’t need to beat yourself up about ordering a takeaway because it’s just one meal out of tens of thousands consumed across your life. Besides, your next meal can get you back on track.

Believing some foods are bad can lead to guilt after eating them which is both unnecessary and terrible for your mental health. 

You can include your favourite foods and still achieve your goals. The key to good physical and mental health is have a balance of nutritious foods and those less nutritious foods you love too.

It also tends to make you desire bad foods more. If I tell you not to think of a bright yellow bear, what did you just do? You thought of a bright yellow bear. 

The instruction not to do something puts the idea into your head. The more you focus on not eating chocolate, the more you focus on chocolate.

If you spend less time desiring chocolate and satisfy that desire in a way that supports your overall diet, it will reduce the chances of emotional turmoil, guilt-laden binges or shame.


Be kind to yourself: Your weight and how you look does not determine your worth

Be kind to yourself: Your weight and how you look does not determine your worth

A number representing your entire mass’ relationship with the ground cannot determine your value to the world.

THE TRUTH: Losing weight doesn’t make you a better person

We are told by society that we will become better people by losing weight instead of being reassured that losing weight has nothing to do with our worth as people or our value to the world. Losing weight is simply the reduction of existing body fat.

It’s a physiological alteration. It may potentially make you happier and healthier, but apart from that, nothing else about you changes.

While your brain can work for you, it can work against you, too. Sometimes, to remind yourself of the reality, you need to keep it in check. 

When you’re struggling with negative emotions about yourself, remember that as long as you have food, a comfortable bed and a roof over your head, everything else is comparably insignificant.

Graeme Tomlinson’s new book Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind is out now, published by Ebury and priced at £16.99.

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