Considering that eating is the basic building block of survival, you'd think we'd pretty much have it down by now, yet it's hard to find a subject more prone to bullshit and misinformation than the question of what constitutes a healthy diet. That might be because we really don't like the answer ("Eat mostly plants!"), but also because there are plenty of so-called experts insisting that ...
#5. Diet Soda Helps You Lose Weight
Nobody truly likes artificial sweeteners, but they're an accepted evil, because how else can you replace all the sinks in your home with soda fountains without feeling guilty? Of course, we all know that such freedom comes at a price -- in this case, that price being that they taste horrid, at least for the first few months before your tongue just gives up. What else can we expect when aspartame is concocted by Satan himself from beetle asses and baby tears? And hey, limitless soda, guys!
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"It's like opening a can of freedom!"
Scientists noticed a strange trend: People who drink diet soda do not in fact lose any weight. They reason appears to have something to do with how your body processes sugar.
You see, with the exception of one organ in particular, your body is kind of a dumbass. That's why, when you wash down your meal with a half-gallon of fake sweetness, your gut is all "Dur, sugar!" and tells your pancreas to get all revved up to process said shitload of sugar. Because your pancreas is not the sharpest tool in the shed, it starts cranking out insulin. This is a problem, since there is, in fact, no shitload of sugar to process.
"I just put straight meth into my coffee now, and I've lost 20 pounds in four hours."
This kicks off a vicious cycle in which your body A) absorbs more of the sugar that you ingest from other foods and B) craves more food, since you got it all aroused with promises of sugar overload and then cockblocked it with a bunch of counterfeit sugar instead. Researchers point out that this "might explain in part why obesity has risen in parallel with the use of artificial sweeteners."
So while you may think you're helping out your diet by allowing yourself some low-calorie (but still sweet) alternatives, chances are you're actually screwing over your waistline in the long run.
No, see, it's healthy because it has a lemon in it.
#4. Sugar Causes Diabetes
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Sugar has long been the diet bogeyman for kids and adults alike. And besides transforming you into a hyper, sugar-fueled, acne-scarred human blob, a diet with too much sugar carries the lovely side effect of surefire diabetes when you're older.
After all, everyone knows that heavy sugar intake leads to diabetes -- hell, even we at Cracked are guilty of making the occasional joke of the "Have another Snickers, fatty! Enjoy the diabetes!" variety. They call it "high blood sugar" for a reason.
"I'm setting the world record for slowest suicide."
If you get the diabetes diagnosis from your doctor, your first big shock will be that he or she doesn't just tell you to stop eating candy bars -- the recommended diet seems to have you cutting back on everything. That's because, just as a runny nose is a symptom of having a cold, high blood sugar is a symptom of diabetes, not a cause. So saying that eating sugar will give you diabetes is like saying that shoving snot up your nose will give you a cold: It's still a bad idea, but it's really a sign of a larger problem.
Diabetes comes from your pancreas becoming too lazy to get up off its ass and produce enough insulin, the hormone responsible for delivering sugar to your cells. Lazy, good-for-nothing pancreas -- always flopped all up on the couch (the couch, in this case, being your small intestine). So why the widespread idea that eating sugar causes diabetes? Well, people who eat an abnormally large amount of sugar probably tend to eat an abnormally large amount of ... just ... everything, and being overweight is a definite factor in developing Type 2 diabetes.
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You can actually hear his pancreas wheezing.
When you eat too much of anything -- even if you're a glutton exclusively for whole grain, "healthy" foods -- you can exhaust your pancreas, preventing it from producing enough insulin to deliver all that extra glucose you consume to your body's cells. So your pancreas runs out of fucks to give, your blood glucose levels rise, and the next thing you know, your legs have become an endangered species.
Of course, that's just Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes usually develops in childhood or young adulthood and also has nothing to do with eating too much sugar -- it's just a matter of your number coming up in the genetic lottery. Or whatever you call a contest where the winner has to constantly stab herself in the finger with a tiny needle.
She's smiling because she's picturing you on fire.
#3. Eating at Night Makes You Fat
It's completely obvious, when you think about it: Your level of fatassness is entirely determined by calories taken in versus calories burned. Drooling on your pillow typically isn't a very physically intensive activity, so when you pork out right before bed, you won't be using up any of those calories you just shoved down your gullet, unless your night terrors are really strenuous that week.
So clearly, eating at night is a true dieting no-no. And if what you choose to eat at night happens to be high in carbohydrates? Whew, don't even get us started on that.
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"What? They're vegetables. Vegetables are good for you!"
Actually, according to a study conducted at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, you're actually better off loading up in the evening than other times of the day. It has to do with how your body regulates when you get hungry.
The study took a bunch of police officers (because doughnuts, duh) and split them into two groups: The first group loaded up on a carb-heavy meal at night, while the second spread their carb intake out throughout the day. The researchers explained that "The idea came about from studies on Muslims during Ramadan, when they fast during the day and eat high-carbohydrate meals in the evening, that showed the secretion curve of leptin was changed." In case you're asking your screen what the hell leptin is right now, it's the hormone that tells your body it's not hungry anymore.
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"Oh, that? I had that removed. Kept interfering with my chocolate."
According to everything our mothers ever told us, the outcome should have been easy to foresee: The "doughnuts for dinner" group should have had to grease themselves up in order to squeeze into their squad cars at the end of the six-month study. But much to the contrary, the researchers found that not only had those officers not gotten fatter, they had actually lost more weight than the control group. That's because the heavy intake of carbs in the evening modified the participants' secretion of hunger hormones in such a way that they felt less hungry throughout the day, with just a single hunger peak in the evening (aka "DOUGHNUT TIME!"). The research suggests that "concentrating carbohydrate intake in the evening, especially for people at risk of developing diabetes or cardiovascular disease due to obesity" could be an effective alternative for people who have difficulty sticking with diets.
Oh, and get this. If you do eat breakfast, go big. Another study found that dieters who ate a high-carb breakfast (with dessert!) were less likely to gain back weight lost while dieting than those who ate a healthier, low-carb (and, sadly, dessertless) breakfast. It's for the same reason: A healthier breakfast is better for you, but also leads to you getting hungrier sooner. And in the long run, any diet that leaves you hungry is doomed to fail.
This isn't a meal. It's a table full of spite.
And while we're on the subject ...