How many times have you been in a conversation which label carbs bad or says all you need to do is juice cleanse for a week and you will get the perfect body you have always dreamed of.
It seems there is always a new fad diet or nutrition myth discovered by some diet scientist in a dark lab somewhere, well that where I imagine they come up with these stuff.
It is safe to say finding out which ones are completely phony and which are real is good information to be armed with in this healthy living journey.
Below are 12 nutrition myths commonly preached debunked:
Myth 1. Carbs are bad for you
Stick with me here while I break down what carbohydrates really are and why this myth is such a no-no.
What are Carbs exactly?
Ever started a new diet where you are eating very little carbs and swapping them out for more protein and fat? I bet you felt tired and low on energy a lot, I know I did.
Carbohydrates are basically what our body needs for energy, after consumption our bodies break them down into glucose to provide us with energy. That explains why sugary foods give us such a high when consumed, however sugary substances a.k.a simple carb get broken down pretty easily and our bodies prefer to work with carbs that break down slowly hence the need to eat good/complex carbs. You see, carbs are not necessarily bad, as long as you are eating the right kind.
What are the right kind of carbs?
I am glad you asked the right question. Pretty much vegetables, fruits and whole grains like brown rice, oats, barley. Say you do not find vegetables that appealing then you do not have to incorporate them in your meals right away. It is easier to start off with vegetables that you find yummy and work your way to the not so yummy ones, before you know it they will taste delicious. I personally dislike celery, nothing tastes worst to me, so I do not eat it. However, I am left with a whole range of carb rich vegetables to select from.
Bottom Line: Find good carbs that work really well for your taste bud and mix them up from time to time.
Myth 2. Late night snacking leads to weight gain
We all know late night cravings are a real thing and they can be very hard to ignore especially when you are sitting home in cosy PJs having a Netflix or Amazon binge session.
The timing of a snack does not lead to weight gain, the biggest cause of weight gain is eating way over the daily nutrition requirement (calories) of your body.
Bottom Line: It helps a great deal to be stocked up on an arsenal of healthy delicious snacks you can reach out on those late nights. Here, you will find a list of such snacks that will help.
Myth 3. Vitamin supplements are necessary
The vitamin supplement industry is a very lucrative industry, so it is no wonder that this myth has somehow found its way into the media – hey great marketing!
Nonetheless, dosing up on vitamin supplements is not necessary, perhaps if you are deficient in an area like iron and a doctor has recommended you take pills, yes eat up those bad boys, but that is usually not the case.
Bottom Line: Be sure you consult with a doctor if you feel like there is a deficiency in vitamins that you are not getting in your meals before spending a fortune on supplements.
Myth 4. Vitamin C prevents cold
Here is one of those old wives’ tale for you. Vitamin C is an important nutrient in the human body, it may protect against eye diseases, help wounds and form scar tissue, immune system deficiencies among others, but will taking a copious amount of it prevent the common cold, no. What it can help with is reducing the duration of it, meaning flushing it out of your system faster.
Bottom Line: It is great to eat vitamin C rich food like oranges, they do all sorts of wonder for the body. Although, the belief that they will prevent cold is just a tale.
Myth 5. Gluten wrecks havoc in our body
Gluten does cause issues in the body, however, this applies to people with celiac disease or people that are non-celiac gluten sensitive. They are commonly found in wheat, barley, rye. Wheat is the common ingredient in a lot of food ranging from breads to baked goods.
Bottom Line: Before believing this myth and switching to a gluten-free diet, consult your doctor to find out if you truly have something to worry about.
Myth 6. Veganism is the best way to healthy living
Every time a new documentary comes out on the benefits of being vegan, there seems to be a spike in conversations about how it is the perfect solution to a healthier lifestyle. The conversations that are not being had been of those regarding known people that made the switch back because it just was not right for them.
Living healthy is so much bigger than going vegan, because our struggles with nutrition does not stem from being a meat-lover or not but from the understanding of nutrition itself.
Take some time to truly understand how to eat right and well without guilt but rather with gratitude and appreciation of each item on your plate at meal time.
Bottom Line: This is not a discussion about whether veganism is the bad or not, it is to point out that whether vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian or meat-lover, the most important key to nutrition is eating what you deem works best for you, not what the media says is.
Myth 7. Home cooking is very time-consuming
We all lead busy lives to an extent, some more than others, so it is easier to order in lunch or dinner rather than cook a meal because we feel it will take too much time. Nevertheless, planning ahead of time helps mitigate that a lot, you will also save quite a bit.
Here is where meal planning works to your advantage, pick a day that works best for you and set it aside to think up meals that will take 30 minute or less, for example pan fried salmon and asparagus. Then go grocery shopping or order from a grocery store that delivers if you do not have time to do, it is surprisingly cheap and bonus you will not over shop or overspend since you can see your bill instantaneously. Take the time to make an ample batch of whatever you have decided on for the whole week.
If you are like me and can not stand to have the same meals over and over again, then perhaps a good approach is to batch cook for lunch at work and come home and throw on some steamed veggies with some protein of your choice, add in some fruit salad as dessert.
Myth 8. Fat free equals healthy
Just because a label says fat free does not mean it is healthy. Often times, when the fat is taken out from food it is typically replaced with processed sugar. All you need to do is take a look at the nutrition facts and ingredients on the label to see the false advertising.
Bottom Line: Pay closer attention to the label of the food you are buying, much rather have full fat than double dose of your daily sugar intake.
Myth 9. Regular exercise is all I need for weight loss
For this myth to actually work in your favor, it would require you swim as many laps a day as Michael Phelps. It takes a lot of exercising to generate the amount of burned calories needed to make this true.
The truth is, being watchful of how many calories you take in is a more effective approach. An average woman need 2000 calories a day to maintain which means to lose a pound a week you have to cut 500 calories. For an average man 2500 calories is needed to maintain, 2000 calories to lose a pound a week. Even super athletes like Phelps have nutritionists that make the right calculations for them.
Bottom Line: It is great to exercise daily but keep in mind, if weight loss is your goal then being calorie deficient is the best way to get there. I am not an advocate for calorie counting, rather I believe in choosing foods that are low-calorie and nutrient dense.
Myth 10. Slim body equates to healthy body
Presumably, we all know at least one person who has the dream body we wish we had, this said individual probably barely works out. Therefore, we have deemed them blessed with a genetic trait that in effect makes them superhuman.
Time to put a hold on that thinking, physical appearance does not in any way tell the full story of what is going on in our body. Everyone comes in different shapes and sizes on the outside, but how our system runs as a whole is determined by how we nourish it through physical activity and the proper nutrition.
Bottom Line: Appearances can be very deceiving, feed your body with good nutrients and exercise regardless of the size you are. Your healthy body and heart will thank you for it in your late years.
Myth 11. Avoid all forms of sugar including fruits
It is true that eating excessive sugar is not great for our overall health, however, the belief that we should be cutting off all forms of sugar including natural ones is a falsehood. The sugar found in processed food versus fruits are completely different, think about this one with me for a second.
If your goal is to cut out sugar and be on a sugar-free diet, the consensus from nutritionists is to cut out processed sugar and replace them with a bowl of delicious fruits like kiwi, orange, cherries, pineapple. The sugar found in this natural fruits are much better processed by our bodies.
However, when making this change to natural sugars be aware of all the names given to processed sugar like dextrose, brown rice syrup, carob syrup. More detailed list here.
Bottom Line: Fruits are naturally provided to us by the earth, they are an exception!
Myth 12. Always drink 8 glasses of water a day
Okay, I have heard this one almost since I got out of the womb. It is surprising that a lot of people still believe this to be true. There is absolutely no reason to measure your daily water intake, our bodies are designed to tell us when we are thirsty.
Ideally it is smart to drink water before our body calls for it because sometimes it disguises itself as hunger or a bad craving, as such, a good rule of thumb is to always have water on hand and drink some hourly or when you feel you are feeling hungry to make sure it is not thirst disguised as hunger.
During and after vigorous exercise or activity is an exception though, as our bodies can easily be pushed to the point of dehydration pretty fast.
Bottom Line: Pay attention to all the wonderful indicators your body is equipped with. When you are well hydrated your skin glows, for real.
Wake Up Call
Above are just 12 nutrition myths circulating at present, some have been around for so long but refuse to die. Before taking media, a friend or colleague’s word as law on matters regarding health, pay a quick visit or call a doctor to verify it. Let us help each other dispel health myths.