There is no doubt nutrition can be confusing.
Nowadays, there are so many products, companies, diets and good marketing schemes directed towards getting us to spend our hard-earned money on things we hope will improve our health.
Today, we uncover 9 common nutrition myths to avoid to improve your health, save some money and reach your fitness goals!
1. Anything “Organic” or "Natural" is good for you
Organic food is essentially a food that does not contain pesticides, chemical fertilizers, dyes, and industrial solvents.
Although many foods like meats, fruits, and vegetables that are organic are healthier than their conventional counterparts, not all organic foods are healthy.
For example cookies that do not contain any additives, dyes, etc. may be USDA certified organic. Yes, they may be better for you than other cookies but nonetheless are not an optimal food as a whole. They may be organic, but their main ingredient is sugar. It is nothing more than a marketing strategy to get you to buy their products because they appear to be healthier.
At the end of the day, junk food is still junk food, organic or not.
2. Fat in your diet will turn into fat on your body
Fat is one of the three main macronutrients our body utilizes as fuel.
Approximately 30% of your diet should be fat.
It is important for energy, proper functioning of nerves, hormone production, disease protection, transporting fat soluble vitamins, improving body composition and keeping you full between meals.
For years we believed fat made us fat. What we know now is that excess calories do.
Fat intake should come from quality sources containing saturated (coconut oil), polyunsaturated (flax, fish oil) or monounsaturated fats (olive oil, fish, nuts, avocados) not from unhealthy fats such as trans-fats and hydrogenated fats.
When considering the quality and ratio of fat within your diet, fat is not something to fear!
3. Egg yolks are bad for you
Eggs are a great source of not only protein but many nutrients.
Most of those nutrients are contained in the yolk! Eating only the whites is done so out of the belief that the whites have all the protein and the yolks have all the fat or out of fear because the yolks contain all the fat/cholesterol.
The truth is egg whites contain 3.6g of protein and yolks contain 2.7g of protein. That’s 57% and 43%.
Yes, egg yolks contain most of the fat but as stated previously, fat in moderation within a healthy diet is not something to be feared. Eggs contain all nine essential amino acids and are one of the best sources of choline, an essential nutrient in the diet. Most of the nutrients and ALL of the choline, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K are found in the yolk.
Throwing away the yolk is like throwing away a natural multivitamin!
4. You can’t eat too much of a healthy food
Many think that just because a food or meal is “healthy” that they can eat all they want of it.
While it may be impossible to overeat something like plain raw spinach which is a mere 7 calories per cup, it does not apply to other calorie dense foods.
Overeating fruits, nuts, yogurt etc will still contribute to total calories.
Remember that the single most important factor in weight loss is caloric intake, or calories in versus calories out.
It doesn’t matter whether you are high in calories due to healthy food, if you are in excess you will gain weight.
5. You need a sports drink when you workout
Sports drinks (Gatorade, Powerade) are often unnecessary for most people.
They contain a lot of simple carbohydrate (sugar) and salt to help replenish what the body is losing during activity. This makes them a great option for long endurance athletes, people who lose a lot of fluid, or athletes who are in extreme heat.
Here at Dynamic Strength and Conditioning the typical workout ranges from 1-1.5 hours in length. While we do some serious work in that time, it usually doesn’t warrant a sugary drink to sustain energy.
Sports drinks just add to total calories and if your goal is weight loss, they should probably be avoided. They especially should not be consumed if you are not exercising.
6. You need to do a cleanse/detox
The research on cleanses and detoxifications simply do not support their use.
The body has organs like the liver and kidneys that do all the necessary cleansing for you. A healthy diet then takes care of those two filter organs.
Detox’s are nothing more than a marketing strategy full of false promises to allure people to buy their product.
Rather than doing an extreme cleanse where you drink nothing but juice for a week and get to know your bathroom a lot better, just start implementing a healthier diet.
Simply add more vegetables to your diet and drink plenty of water.
7. Carbs are bad
Carbohydrates, “carbs”, are one of the body’s three main fuel sources.
The body relies on carbohydrates for fuel more than the other macronutrients: fat and protein.
They are also the only source of fuel for the brain which is why going low-carb can cause mental fatigue.
Unfortunately carbs can range from candy to carrots.
Here the focus should not be on avoiding them but rather, focusing on the quality and amount.
Carbohydrates are categorized as complex carbs and simple carbs. Complex carbs are starchy carbs that are slower to digest while simple carbs tend to be more sugar. That’s not to say complex is good and simple is bad. Many fruits are high in simple carbs. The goal with carbohydrate consumption should be on quality foods and mostly starchy sources coming from vegetables, rice, whole grains, etc. The only simple carbs in your diet should come from fruits, avoiding simple carbs from soft drinks and processed, sugary foods.
Athletes should aim to get about 65% of their total calories from carbs while general fitness enthusiasts and clients trying to lose weight should stick around 55% of calories from carbs.
8. “I workout, so it cancels out my bad diet”
Nutrition plays a far larger role in weight loss/weight gain than exercise does.
Although exercise is crucial for improving fitness, body composition, heart health, strength, muscle mass and bone strength, exercise alone can only have a marginal effect on weight loss without a nutrition intervention.
That ratio can be applied to muscle building and gaining weight as well. Weight loss and muscle building clients alike cannot expect to put hard work in at the gym while not supplying their body with the proper nutrition and see the results they want. As the saying goes “you can’t out-train a bad diet.
9. Starving yourself is the best way to lose weight
While it was mentioned a calorie deficit (where you eat less energy than your body is expending) is needed to lose weight, that doesn’t mean you have to starve.
If your goal is weight loss, calorie deficit should be achieved by a combination of eating slightly less calories and exercising more.
- Increase lean muscle mass
- Increase strength
- Decrease fat mass
- Leave you feeling great!
Starving yourself or going through an extreme calorie deprivation can cause:
- A catabolic response, where your body breaks down it’s own muscle
- Decrease in metabolism
- A poor relationship with food
- Disordered eating, or bingeing after the fast
- An increase in fat storage!