Dietician Debunks Diet Myths - Medshield Movement

Dietician Debunks Diet Myths

It’s National Nutrition Week in October and we asked dietician and pro-athlete Mariella Sawyer about the biggest diet myths we often see on social media. 

South Africa commemorates National Nutrition Week every October to encourage South Africans to make healthy choices towards improved nutrition. While nutrition should always be top of mind, we tend to hibernate and eat more comfort foods during winter. Now that it’s Spring, we dust off those tekkies and kick up the exercise and diet plans. 

The problem is, there’s a lot of diet-related misinformation on the internet and social media. So, to help bust those diet myths, we speak to a qualified dietician – the kind with a science degree and not a three-week online course – Mariella Sawyer, who also happens to be a professional triathlete. 

We asked her what some of the biggest food or diet myths are that she comes across on social media. 

Mariella’s List Of Myths

  1. “You can’t eat carbs if you want to lose weight.”

    You can absolutely eat carbs and still lose weight. Low-carb diets don’t cause people to lose weight because they remove carbs, they can cause people to lose weight because often the reduction in carbs is linked to a reduction in total calories. Carbs do not make you fat.

  2. “Gluten and dairy cause inflammation.”

Read this study, which concluded that “dairy product consumption does not exert adverse effects on biomarkers of inflammation in overweight or obese adults.”
There’s also no evidence that gluten causes problems in people without celiac disease, says Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Lisa Cimperman, a clinical dietitian at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.

  1. “Cravings are a sign of weakness and that you lack willpower.” 

Perhaps the diet you are following is too strict or rigid and is not fuelling your life appropriately – which is why it’s important to have a qualified dietician create a diet plan that is sustainable and suits your lifestyle.

  1. “You burn more fat if you train fasted.”

    Most recent studies have actually shown that, over long periods, exercising after breakfast would be more effective than fasting training to lose weight through the increased metabolism and reduced RER in the hours after the training session. The results published in “Body Composition Changes Associated With Fasted VS Non-Fasted Aerobic Exercise” also show that the group who exercised fasted did not bur more fat than those who trained after eating.

  2. “Calories in VS calories out is all that matters.”

Carbohydrate, fat and protein calories are indeed equal by definition in terms of their energy content, but the body processes each in a distinct way, and these differences have real implications for weight management.

  1. “Detox products help you lose weight.”

    Though detoxes remain popular, there is no scientific evidence to support their effectiveness. This study reveals that “no randomised controlled trials have been conducted to assess the effectiveness of commercial detox diets in humans.”

  2. “A supplement is superior to whole foods e.g. protein powders/ health shakes etc.”

Protein shakes, and other supplements, are not a replacement for good food. You should always aim to eat nutrient rich whole foods as a priority. – Sports Dieticians Australia.

If you’re serious about making healthy, sustainable nutrition choices, speak to a qualified dietician for a tailor-made programme that suits your individual needs. 

To find a qualified dietician in your area, visit and check out our list of approved medical and healthcare professionals at Or contact 086 000 2120 for more information.

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