Psychiatrist Reveals Truth Behind Common Diet Myths

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Psychiatrist, Dr. Anthony J. Burlay, author of Â?The Foundation Diet: Your Body Was Designed to Eat,Â? (Zen-fusion Publishing, $24.95) reveals the truth behind five myths which may keep dieters from their weight loss goals.

Psychiatrist, Dr. Anthony J. Burlay, author of “The Foundation Diet: Your Body Was Designed to Eat,” (Zen-fusion Publishing, $24.95) reveals the truth behind five myths which may keep dieters from their weight loss goals.

“Things get repeated often and slowly become believable,” says Dr. Burlay. But, just because it has been said a thousand times, does not mean it’s true. “Through repetition, even incorrect information can permeate our thoughts and get in the way of weight loss goals,” he says.

Myth #5: Initial weight loss on any diet plan comes from water weight.

“There is no water storage gland in the human body that empties upon dieting,” says Dr. Burlay. The proponents of this fallacy argue that the breakdown of glycogen releases water. However, according to Dr. Burlay, “The human liver weighs about 3 pounds and glycogen accounts for only about 10% of this. So, it could only contribute to less than half a pound, if all of its weight were water.”

The fallacy mongers further suggest that the breakdown products of fat metabolism release water. “That’s great. If fat is broken down, who cares about the chemistry byproducts,” he says. For the technically minded, most of these chemical reactions use water initially, rather than release it.

Myth #4: Skipping meals is a practical way to lose weight.

When you skip a meal, your body uses stored sugar molecules which have been converted to glycogen. These stores are in the liver and muscle tissue. Once these are gone, your body turns to other nutrient sources for its constant energy needs. Dr. Burlay says that after skipping a meal under this circumstance, your body would shift into a “fasting” metabolism which would lead to protein breakdown.

“If you are eating according to evolutionary guidelines, that is, the right combination of foods for your body’s design, you would break down fat, rather than protein, by not skipping lunch,” says Dr. Burlay.

Myth #3: The Food Pyramid is a good way to eat to maintain a healthy weight.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture released the Food Pyramid in 1980 and the next revision is due later this year. Since its introduction, obesity has become of “pandemic proportion,” according to Dr. Burlay. The Pyramid advocates a diet with plenty of breads, cereals, rice, pasta, vegetables, and fruits. “Decisions about food choices are much more complex than following a list of recommended foods. Our food choices are the result of a combination of body signals, cultural influences, habits, events, people, emotions, and beliefs,” says Dr. Burlay. Economically driven agricultural promotion is not serving public health, he suggests.

Myth #2: Eating a low fat diet is the best way to lose weight.

Low fat diets have been advocated for the last 20 years. The fat content of the American diet has actually decreased slightly during this time, but the obesity rate has more than doubled. Why? Part of the reason Dr. Burlay says, is that “a low fat diet is not the correct fuel mix for the way the human body was designed. Over millions of years of evolution, our metabolic pathways developed. The original diet consisted mostly of available vegetation, seasonally limited fruits and nuts, and foods rich in protein and fat.”

Myth #1: Counting calories is essential to healthy eating and weight loss.

The human body needs about 11-12 calories per pound of weight a day to maintain its current weight. For a 200 pound person, this would be approximately 2400 calories. Approximately 3500 calories are eaten for every pound of body weight. So, to lose 10 pounds, a dieter would have to eat 35,000 less calories. It would follow, that by eating 500 less calories a day, it would take over two months to lose those 10 pounds. However for most people, this significant calorie restriction is uncomfortable, and unsustainable according to Dr. Burlay. “For anyone who has tried a reduced calorie diet, they are familiar with how difficult this way of life can be,” he says. “What do you do when, at 5 PM all the day’s calories are gone and you are still hungry?”

The body processes various nutrients differently. “It is not necessarily the total amount of food eaten that leads to weight loss or gain. It is the proportion of various nutrients and the shift to fat burning metabolism that is important,” he says.

“Unfortunately, competing interests rely on these ‘facts’ and help perpetuate their existence,” Dr. Burlay says. Consumers must inform themselves of how their bodies evolved and the body’s process of metabolism if they want to know how they should eat and how to lose weight. Believing diet myths will only keep them in the cycle of the serial dieter.

Anthony Burlay, M.D. attended medical school completed his Psychiatric Residency at the University of Maryland at Baltimore. He is Board certified in General and Addictions Psychiatry and is the author of “The Foundation Diet: Your Body Was Designed to Eat,” (Zen-Fusion Publishing, $24.95) available at and major booksellers. Learn more about how your body works at

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Candice Pascal