The world of food science and nutrition is a relatively new one that continually evolves as discoveries and new findings emerge. Just like a garden, it requires attention and tending to by removing harmful weeds (nutrition myths) while making room for new buds to grow (scientific advances). Pull on your sun hat and grab your gloves, it’s time to get gardening; and sort out the top nutrotion myths and facts.
From commercials and magazines to social media influencers, we get bombarded with a jumble of myths and facts about nutrition. Despite scientific advancements, mainstream nutrition information available is frequently inaccurate and in the worst case peddles dangerous nonsense. It’s time to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Pop quiz! which of the following is a common nutrition myth?
- Skipping meals helps you lose weight
- Gluten-free foods are healthier
- Eating high-cholesterol foods will increase your cholesterol
The answer: All of the above!
Now for the top five myths.
Myth #1: Fat is bad
You’d be forgiven for coming to this conclusion considering it’s called, well, fat! The truth is that eating fats will not necessarily make you fat. The diet trends in the ’80s lent fat a bad rap due to its higher calorie content than its macronutrient counterparts. Fat contains 9 kcal per gram, while protein and carbohydrates contain 4 kcal per gram. Cutting it out of your diet may not prove to be helpful as it helps keep you full and produce hormones that support your metabolic functions.
When it comes to dietary fat, not all are created equal. We need fats to help absorb nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as support nerve transmission and maintain the structure of our cells. Some can even help reduce inflammation and benefit our blood cholesterol levels.
Polyunsaturated varieties of fat found in fish, walnuts, flax, soy, sunflower, and vegetable oils as well as Monounsaturated in avocado, nuts, olive oil, olives.
Eat moderate amounts of:
Saturated fats such as full-fat milk, yogurt, red meats, cheese, and eggs.
Trans-fats, these are usually in packaged snacks and desserts, deep-fried foods and margarine.
Manufacturing methods matter
Fat is a big component when it comes to flavor. When food manufacturers reduce or remove fat from products, they tend to add extra sugar or salt to compensate for compromised flavor. For instance, low-fat or fat-free milk often has added flavoring or sugars. Skim milk is fortified with synthetic vitamins to replace those lost in the fat-removal process. Some studies have shown that drinking whole-fat dairy can help lower the risk of disease such as diabetes.
Myth #2: Cholesterol-rich foods cause high cholesterol
Along the same logic as “all fat is bad,” it’s understandable that people tend to believe that eating cholesterol-rich foods will lead to higher blood-cholesterol. Healthy bodies self-regulate cholesterol production originating from foods. Studies prove that eating dietary cholesterol does not cause an increase in blood cholesterol within healthy individuals. In fact, dietary cholesterol found in seafood, meat, or eggs have little negative effect on blood cholesterol.
What about red meat?
The same goes for red meat. It’s not bad for your health if you select your products carefully. Health concerns with regards to meat relate to eating too much of it, consuming poor quality products, or unhealthy cooking methods. Aim for quality sources such as organic and grass-fed and try to eat it only a few times a week. Avoid all processed options such as fast-food burgers, sausages, and cured meats. When preparing meat, aim to cook it slow and low rather than high and fast. Frying or charring as it can produce cancerous components.
Myth #3: Carbs makes you fat
Grains themselves don’t make you gain weight, rather eating anything in excess can. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming grains as part of a healthy diet with at least half of the grains being whole grains.
Is gluten-free the way to go?
Gluten-free products can be a lifesaver for those with gluten allergies or celiac disease. However, if you’re not allergic or sensitive to the wheat protein, gluten-free products can, in fact, be worse for your health. Gluten-free products tend to be overly processed compensating for the missing wheat gluten which lends bread that chewy and fluffy texture. Instead, focus on whole grain products, which will help stabilize your blood sugar levels, promote satiety, and support your gut bacteria.
Myth #4: Brown foods are healthier than white
Some foods may trick you into thinking they’re healthy just because of their color. Yes, we tend to associate brighter and more colorful natural plant-based foods with more nutrients, but when it comes to the color brown, this is where it gets a bit more complicated.
Eggshell color has nothing to do with the nutrient value, quality, or flavor of your eggs. The breed of the hen is the only determining factor in the color of the shell. When buying eggs, there’s no need to pay attention to their color, instead aim for organic and free-range.
Brown sugar is brown because it has added molasses. This does contain a few more minerals than white sugar, but the difference is slim to imperceptible. Brown sugar is still a sweetener, so best consumed in moderation.
When it comes to brown bread versus white, we encourage whole grain options. However, many products will have a mix of whole grain and refined wheat. So even if it looks brown, it may not be whole grain. Instead of trusting the color, take a look and the ingredient list and look for whole grain or whole wheat.
Myth #5: Eating less helps you lose weight
Crash diets very rarely result in long-term weight loss; in fact, they frequently lead to weight gain down the line as well as a spike in cravings for high-fat and sugary foods. It will also result in a lack of essential nutrients that support a healthy metabolism.
Skipping meals will help you lose weight
Skipping meals is not a good idea either. You’ll also be more likely to snack on high-fat and high-sugar foods, which could result in weight gain. Same goes for replacing meals with meal replacement shakes. They’re not a long-term solution and prevent you from establishing and internalizing healthy habits.
Healthy and sustainable nutrition
Nutrition plays a significant role in losing weight, 80 percent to be exact. However, successful weight loss requires you to make small changes you can stick to for a long time. That means squeezing in physical activity into your daily routine, while gradually decreasing calories. The best approach is to focus on fresh whole foods that will keep you full and going strong throughout the day.
Don’t let nutrition myths get the better of you and restrict your life! Whether you’re trying to lose, gain or manage your current weight — start eating scientifically-backed foods, all personally curated for you by our team of in-house nutritionists, when you sign up for the 8fit Pro app.