#2. Eating a Bunch of Mini-Meals Boosts Your Metabolism
Metabolism is the Magic Word in the diet world. You can't flip past two pages of Men's Health without seeing the M-word mentioned at least three dozen times, and according to approximately 98 percent of guys in gyms with perpetual sweaty pits, eating mini-meals is the only way to go. By eating five or six small meals instead of three big ones, your body's metabolism will be revved up, therefore burning off calories more efficiently. Picture your body as a fireplace: Add small batches of wood more frequently and the fireplace burns brighter; stuff in too much wood at once and suddenly its eyes are stinging from its own bacon-sweat while Jillian Michaels yells at it.
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She will goddamn anger your fat off.
Brace yourself, because what we're about to tell you might come as a shock. You know that meathead at the gym, the one who's constantly espousing the virtues of mini-meals? Yeah, it turns out he's no mathematician.
We can't place all the blame on Meathead for perpetuating this idea, though. After all, besides the fact that our entire concept of metabolism is flawed from the get-go, studies from as early as the 1950s have praised mini-meals as the ultimate weight-loss tool. But just as our concept of metabolism is flawed, so too were those studies. How so? Because they didn't control for total calorie intake. And when it comes to fat loss, the total number of calories you take in is what truly matters, not when or how often you intake them.
"That looks great. Now bring me one of these every 15 minutes until it's time for bed."
So the people who did lose weight with a bunch of smaller meals did it because, for whatever reason, eating more often made them eat less. And if eating more but smaller meals happens to make you less hungry for food, then go for it -- managing hunger is what successful diets are all about. But studies show that for the average person, it makes no difference.
#1. The Food Pyramid Is the Bible of Healthy Eating Habits
Some diet myths are easy to spot. No, eating oysters won't boost your sexual performance; no, putting a banana in the refrigerator won't make it poisonous. But then there are the facts drilled into us by The Man, like the USDA's Food Pyramid, which no one questioned because it came in an official-looking government diagram. You've seen this, right? Grains at the bottom, milk, cheese, and meat higher up:
Wanton desire for inflicting misery somewhere in the middle.
You probably remember it best as a poster plastered all over schools and your doctor's office, but it was much more than that -- for many years, the Food Pyramid dictated how school lunches were put together, and heavily influenced other government-sponsored nutrition programs. So what's wrong with that?
Some of you younger kids know that the Food Pyramid has already been replaced by Michelle Obama's "healthy plate." But unless you're younger than the Obama administration or a time traveler (far more likely), the old Food Pyramid probably had more impact on your dietary habits than you realize. And with good reason -- without a handy guide to tell you exactly how much to eat of each type of food, how else would you know not to sustain yourself on Almond Joys dipped in tubs of lard?
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"I make every food on the pyramid, just to be safe."
The problem was that the pyramid wasn't based on scientific evidence or research -- it was more about which lobbyists whined loud enough to get their particular product shuffled to a more prominent spot on the chart.
According to the pyramid, fat is bad, so you should eat something else. Like carbs. The extra stupid part of this is that in 1992 (when the pyramid was released), we'd known for 30 to 40 years that it's not fat itself that's bad -- it's that some fats are bad. Yet the Food Pyramid asks you to eat 11 servings a day of carbohydrates so that you can avoid fat at all costs. The kicker is that they counted potatoes as vegetables, so add in up to five servings of those bad boys and you're up to 16 servings a day of starchy, carby deliciousness.
But it wasn't just the wheat and potato farmers who wanted in on this. The dairy industry wanted their cut, even though dairy isn't a dietary requirement. Beef? Sure, there's a nice T-bone in there, right alongside other protein sources such as legumes, assuring you that three servings of steak a day is perfectly (awesomely?) healthy. So avoid all fats, but a cheeseburger is the perfect meal.
We're honestly surprised that fast food restaurants haven't started this marketing strategy.
But now that the USDA has woken up to research from the 1950s with Michelle Obama's healthy initiative, they've instead started emphasizing eating more vegetables, less carbs, and healthy fats. Of course, the healthy vegetable lobby probably had a huge hand in this, so take it with a grain of salt. Not literally, though! Salt is bad. Or at least until someone tells us otherwise.
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For more eating habits that'll put you in an early grave, check out 8 Health Foods That Are Bad For Your Health. Or discover 5 Ways to Trick Your Brain into Eating Healthy and The 5 Weirdest Things That Influence How Your Food Tastes.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 4 Foods Renamed So That You Might Actually Eat Them.
And stop by Food For Thought where you can discover the responsible way to manage an all bacon and chocolate diet.
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We have some bad news: the food pyramid is total crap, the whole '8 glasses of water a day' thing is nonsense and your favorite book sellers are now taking pre-orders for a text book written and illustrated entirely by the Cracked team! Hitting shelves in October, Cracked's De-Textbook is a fully-illustrated, systematic deconstruction of all of the bullshit you learned in school.
It's loaded with facts about history, your body, and the world around you that your teachers didn't want you to know. And as a bonus? We've also included the kinkiest sex acts ever described in the Bible.