With so much emphasis on healthy eating, it can be hard to cut through all the nutrition myths. Below is a list of 10 of the most ludicrous nutrition myths out there.
1. Fat is bad.
The fact is: we all need fats. The trick is to consume fat in mild to moderate amounts, not in excess. Fats aid in nutrient absorption and nerve transmission, and they help to maintain cell membrane integrity. But all fats are not created equal. Fats such as mono- and poly-unsaturated fats help to lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). Foods like nuts, avocado, olive oil, salmon, and fish are all great sources of these healthy fats.
2. Late-night snacking will make you gain weight.
Late-night snacking can lead to weight gain, but it’s not due to the time on the clock. The trouble is that after-dinner snacking can lead you to eat more calories than your body needs in a day, especially if you’re having high-calorie snack foods and sweetened beverages. If you usually get hungry for an evening snack, try eating dinner a little later. Still hungry? Sip on water with a squeeze of lemon, or go for small portions of healthy choices, like a piece of fruit or something similar.
3. Cutting out carbs is the best way to lose weight.
The key message that most low-carb diets promote is that carbohydrates promote insulin production, which in turn results in weight gain. Cutting carbs, therefore means losing weight, right? WRONG! You might see short-term changes, but these are primarily from a change in water balance (water loss) with the loss of glycogen (carbohydrate stores). The truth is that low-carb diets are often calorie-restricted, so it’s creating an overall negative energy balance (taking in fewer calories than you are using) and promoting weight loss. The trick is not to totally eliminate carbs, but to choose healthy ones, like fruits, vegetables, and even legumes (dried beans, peas, and lentils), to make sure you’re getting the healthiest balance of all macronutrients.
4. Fruit has too much sugar and should be cut out with other sugars in the diet.
It’s true that fruit has naturally occurring sugars, but it is also chock full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which are all important for good health. Choosing more vegetables and fruit, naturally sweetened by Mother Nature, can help you maintain your weight and reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases. Enjoy whole, fresh, frozen or canned fruit each day. And aim to limit foods that are high in added sugars but low in nutrients, like candies, cookies, chocolate treats and sweetened soft drinks. Try satisfying your sweet tooth with fruit or yogurt topped with berries.
5. Skipping meals is an easy way to lose weight.
In theory, skipping one meal while keeping everything else in your diet the same will help you lose weight. But, when you skip a meal, you’re eating pattern changes and you tend to overeat and overcompensate later (like your late-night snack) which will likely lead to weight gain. And if you start skipping meals, your body will start to think you’re in starvation mode and will actually slow down your metabolism to compensate. When it comes down to it, it’s really about energy balance (calories in vs. calories out) and meal timing for optimal health and fitness. Eating more frequently will actually keep your engine running at its optimal best.
6. ‘Low-fat’ or ‘fat-free’ means lower calories.
A serving of low-fat or fat-free food may be lower in calories than a serving of the full-fat product, but most processed low-fat or fat-free foods have just as many calories as the full-fat versions of the same foods, and often can have even more. On top of that, many of these foods contain added flour, salt, starch, or sugar to improve flavor and texture after the fat is removed. This can offset energy balance as much as any type of food, so being aware of nutrition labels is critical when grocery shopping.
7. The ‘eight glasses of water per day’ myth.
You should replace water lost through breathing, elimination and sweating each day, but that doesn’t necessarily total 64 ounces of water. If you’re exercising, this could, in fact, be much higher. Water intake needs are as individual as calorie and energy needs, so it’s best to use your own body’s signals, like thirst and urine color, to make sure you’re taking in enough fluid from foods and liquids. Remember: a lot of the foods we eat are full of the water we need.
8. As long as you’re eating healthy foods, calories really don’t matter.
The most important factor with regards to calories and weight management is energy balance (calories in vs. calories out). The overall principle doesn’t change all that much depending on the types of foods we eat. Whole-wheat pasta (or bread, pie crust, whatever) has just as many calories as “regular” pasta. Same goes for brown and white rice. Avocados, nuts and olive oil deliver heart-healthy fats — but they are very calorie-dense. Red wine and dark chocolate may be full of antioxidants, but if you indulge every day without accounting for their calories, you’re going to gain weight.
9. Going on a diet is the best way to lose weight.
In the short-term, you do lose weight on any plan that results in your eating fewer calories than you need. But temporary results don’t lead to long-term results. This is because they are not lifestyle changes; they are a goal on a calendar. Hence the famous ‘rebound’ weight gain after diets are over. The best way to lose weight is to view it as one of the outcomes of a new approach to eating, and understanding nutrition as a major factor of your total health, not focusing on weight loss as the only goal. No one’s been on a diet forever, but a lot of people eat right day after day with great results.
10. Healthy food costs more (too much).
With some planning and wise choices, you can create tasty, healthy and affordable meals. To get the most value, choose foods that are big on nutrients and low on cost. Many healthy staple foods can be lower-cost items, including bulk flours and whole grains, in-season fresh produce, eggs, legumes (dried beans, peas, and lentils), powdered milk, and sale-priced frozen or canned vegetables, fruits, and fish. Scanning flyers for specials, stocking up on sale items and cooking meals from scratch can all save you money
We’re not really sure where these myths originated from ( although we have a few ideas and let’s say we have a feeling most were pulled out of where the sun don’t shine) but we are more than happy to put them to an end.