Ed Shepherd CHC, CPT
Never eat before you go to bed. Always choose foods that are low-fat. Never eat more carbs than protein. When it comes to dieting advice, if someone tells you to “never” or “always” do something, it’s likely they’re promoting a nutrition myth. So how do you determine fact from fiction?
Check out the following ill-informed nutrition tips, and see what bad advice you’ve been given in the past.
Eat six “mini” meals a day
This nutrition tip was born with good intentions, but unfortunately, eating like this is not realistic for everyone. While small meals might help starving off hunger, there is little proof that it will promote greater weight loss.Bottom line: Design an eating program that works for you. If you find that eating several times per day leads to overconsumption of calories, opt for three meals with one snack is a great alternative.
Eating fat will make you fat
Yes and no. it all depends on the type of fats you’re eating. Paired with a healthy diet, the right fats may actually help you shed a few pounds.Bottom line: Drop the trans fat, go light on the saturated fats, and instead, opt for mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Good sources include olive oil and avocados for monounsaturated fats and salmon and flaxseeds for polyunsaturated fats.
Carbs are the enemy
If you cut your carbs to an extremely low level, you will miss out on the vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidant that are present in carb-heavy foods like fruits and vegetables.
Bottom line: Carbohydrates are the essential part of your daily diet because they contain the glucose that fuels the body and brain. The minimum amount of recommended carbohydrates per day is 130 grams or 45 to 65 percent of your total calories.
Eat more protein than carbs
Yes, you should include lean sources of protein in your diet, but this macronutrient cannot be your main source of calories. There are three macronutrients for a reason: your body needs carbs, fat and protein for optimal health.
Bottom line: For athletes, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends a daily intake of 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. For general health they recommend .08 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day
Breakfast is perceived as healthy, even more important than other meals. It’s true, many studies show that breakfast eaters tend to be healthier. However, these studies are so-called observational studies, which can not demonstrate causation. Chances are that breakfast eaters have other healthy lifestyle habits that can explain this.
For example, people who eat breakfast also tend to eat a healthier diet, with more fiber and micronutrients. On the other hand, people who skip breakfast tend to smoke more, drink more alcohol and exercise less.
Some people claim that eating breakfast “kick-starts” the metabolism, but this is a myth. These people are referring to the thermic effect of food, which is the increase in calories burned that occurs after you eat. However, what matters for metabolism is the total amount of food consumed throughout the day. It makes no difference at which times, or how often, you eat. Studies show that there is no difference in calories burned over 24 hours between people who eat or skip breakfast.
Bottom line: Breakfast Is optional and skipping breakfast does not cause weight gain. The evidence is clear, there is nothing “special” about breakfast.
It probably does not matter whether you eat or skip breakfast, as long as you eat healthy for the rest of the day. Breakfast does not “jump start” your metabolism and skipping it does not automatically make you overeat and gain weight. This is a myth, based on observational studies that have since been proven wrong in randomized controlled trials (real science). At the end of the day, breakfast is optional, and it all boils down to personal preference.
If you feel hungry in the morning and you like breakfast, go ahead and eat a healthy breakfast. A protein-rich breakfast is best. However, if you don’t feel hungry in the morning and don’t feel that you need breakfast, then don’t eat it. It’s as simple as that.
Don’t eat after 7 p.m.
If there is one nutrition myth that seems to stand the test of time, this is it. We have been hearing for years that food should be off-limits after the clock strikes a certain hour – regardless of personal circumstances.
Bottom line: If it’s 8:00 p.m. and you’re hungry, EAT, but choose wisely. Well balanced options include: a serving of cottage cheese with a piece of fruit, an apple with a handful of almonds and string cheese, a piece of whole-grain toast with avocado spread, sliced veggies with hummus or a bowl of low-sugar/high-fiber cereal or oatmeal.
Detox your way to a healthier system
How many times have you heard, “do this awesome detox to jumpstart your weight loss!”? Unfortunately, there is no detox to quick-fix diet that will magically speed up your metabolism and help you lose weight in the long-term
Bottom line: Trust the natural detoxification process that your body performs around the clock. Supporting this process doesn’t require a rigorous plan. Try a few simple tips instead: Actively hydrate with water, eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day and eat cruciferous vegetables (like cabbage, kale, and broccoli) and naturally fermented foods (sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha, yogurt, raw cheese.)
Don’t eat the yolk
For years we were told to stop eating eggs or at least ditch the yolk and order egg whites only. Eggs, which contain cholesterol, were thought to increase the risk of heart disease by raising cholesterol levels. But now studies show that cholesterol in foods has little impact on the levels of cholesterol in you blood.
Bottom line: If your concerned about eating too much of the good stuff (yolk), opt for one whole egg scrambled with two egg whites.
Only eat foods in certain orders or combinations
Food-combining diets have been around for years, and one common never-dying belief is that you should eat fruit raw and not in combination with other foods. Otherwise, the myth asserts, they will ferment rot or turn toxic in the stomach.
Bottom line: Be wary of any talk about necessary food orders. You can eat fruit as part of a larger meal or snack, and it can be raw or cooked.
Switch to diet soda if you want to save calories
Diet soda makes an appearance in many diet commercials as an acceptable zero-calorie or “free” option. However, a significant amount of research has been done on diet sodas and suggest that artificial sweeteners (i.e. aspartame and sucralose) can cause negative health outcomes and even lead to weight gain.
Bottom line: Ditch soda in all forms and try water infused with fruit instead.
Elimination diets are best for weight loss
The diet industry makes billions encouraging people to eliminate one particular food from their diet (most recently, sugar and carbs) if they want to lose weight fast. But often, these programs and their results are short-lived.Bottom line: Unless you have a medical condition that requires you to eliminate certain foods, the all-or-nothing mentality isn’t necessary and can actually hurt your motivation over time.
All calories are equal – Calories in calories out
If that were true, I could eat ice-cream for my daily quota of fat, instead of avocado. Unfortunately, the calories in ice-cream are not as nutritious as the calories in an avocado, which means the health benefits don’t match up.
Bottom line: Quality calories, like those found in fruits and vegetables, are nutrient-dense, whereas, the calories in a bag of potato chips don’t contain any nutrients.
Cut dairy products if you want to be healthy
Dairy has been unfairly blamed for all kinds of ailments, but unless you are lactose intolerant, you don’t have to cut it. Even people whom are lactose sensitive can still enjoy some dairy every now and then.
Bottom line: Dairy products such as Greek yogurt are great sources of protein and calcium and a wonderful addition to your diet if you aren’t lactose intolerant.