First, they say avoid fat, then they say eat fat. First, they say cutting carbs will make you lose weight, then they say that you need carbs or you’ll gain all your weight back. First, they say fasting is a good idea, then they say it doesn’t make a difference to your health.
Do you follow me? It’s a confusing world wide web out there! How can you know which food trend is valid and which is just another food myth? Yes, there are food myths. I’ve even caught myself in one or two. They are the blanket statements that you want to believe are true. But here’s the truth, blanket statements don’t apply to your uniqueness. Right? What works for you, won’t necessarily work for me. But let’s have a closer look.
What are some of the most common food myths?
1 – “Eating before bed will make you fat”
Actually, that’s not true. There are factors that may influence your body’s ability to process your calories but eating before bed will not directly contribute to your obesity.
This myth might have stemmed from the fact that as you prepare for bed, your body also prepares for a good night’s sleep. This means that your cortisol/insulin levels drop, your metabolism slows and your body focuses on healing rather than digesting. When you eat, your blood sugar levels rise. And it’s possible that your body, at night, doesn’t have the capability to deal with that rise in your blood sugar. Your cortisol/insulin production has slowed causing a chance for you to store some fat due to this imbalance. Studies have shown that regulating blood sugar levels is one of the top ways of losing and maintaining weight.
2 – “Vegetarians or vegans don’t eat enough protein”
That’s an obvious one. In my experience, I’ve seen that many people don’t actually know where protein comes from… but most assume it’s from eating animal meat. And, yes, that’s correct! Animal protein is a very high source of protein. However, there are two factors to add to the equation. Firstly, depending on your health goals, you may actually be eating too much protein. There are very successful vegan athletes that thrive with roughly 12% protein in their diets while some bodybuilders will bump up their protein content to over 40% to build muscle mass. Nutritionists and dieticians will, on average, suggest 0.6 to 1.6 grams of protein for every kg of body weight (not goal specific). This translates to roughly 20-25% of calories. Secondly, most foods contain all three macronutrients. Which means that you get some protein from eating broccoli. Not a huge amount, but it’s there. You can also find protein in many other non-animal sources like whole grains, legumes, nuts and dairy – if you choose to eat it. As you can see, protein options are plentiful, even if you don’t eat meat.
3 – “Coffee is bad for your health”
With so many misconceptions around nutrition, it’s hard to pick only three to highlight for you. But this is one we hear often. I’ve actually had clients resist working with me in fear that they would need to stop drinking coffee. Listen, I love coffee, too. So why does it have a bad rap? There are a few factors. Let’s start with the obvious. What do you put IN your coffee? If you’re coffee is a double, double – then it’s possible that your issues are bigger than caffeine intake. Sugar and cream are not a nutritious addition to your health goals. Next, if you have adrenal fatigue (which most of us do in some slight way), your body will be overtaxed by the caffeine intake of your daily coffee. Caffeine acts by stimulating our central nervous system. Although this can increase performance, it can also create a sort of stress response in the body. And we’re already under enough stress. This added biochemical response can increase your inflammation and deplete nutrient intake.
Why are there such things as “nutrition myths”?
It’s hard to navigate the world of nutritional science. The best approach is always a multi-faceted one. Problem is, many people take small sections of information from a study or article and absorb or share it out of context. When enough people talk about something, it gets passed on and becomes an unqualified “fact”. The source of the information has become so far removed from the actual intent of the comment that the only thing that remains is an interpretation of a larger intention. Like the myth that “carbs make you fat”. Assuming this started with the fact that carbohydrates are broken down to form glucose. And that an excess of glucose in the body must be converted by the liver into glycogen. And when we have no more room for glycogen, the liver must then convert the glycogen into fatty-acids which, in turn, will be stored as fat in the body. So do carbs directly make you fat? No, but we can see how the nutritional myth may have been created.
Many companies have agendas when it comes to offering nutritional information to the public. Take the dairy industry for example. They spend millions of dollars marketing the so-called benefits of drinking milk. For years we’ve heard the milk “does a body good” and how you need it for strong bones. With this kind of continual messaging, it’s no wonder that people assume that vegans don’t/won’t get enough calcium from their diet. In fact, there is more calcium in a serving of tofu then there is in a glass of milk. Vegans, if they are mindful of their diet, will get plenty of calcium.
What are some other “myths” from earlier years?
The 90s had some pretty ridiculous food myths. Some of which have vanished today. Proving that trends will come and go but it will always be wise to eat whole foods. Remember when people believed that “a calorie is a calorie”. Sure, technically this is true but not all calories are created equal. If you were only measuring calories in vs. calories out in a way to lose weight, you could actually eat Twinkies all day and succeed on your weight loss (assuming you were expending more calories than you were eating). We must agree, however, that this would not enhance your health and even promote long-term nutritional deficiencies.
Other myths include:
“Eating high cholesterol foods will raise your cholesterol levels:
“Pretzels are healthier than potato chips.”
And, let’s just add the once popular aspartame to that list of “health” myths.
What can we do to avoid getting misinformed?
Before we give you the how-to’s on navigating information, let’s start by saying this:
The best information you will receive is from your BODY. Listen to the cues and start to learn what makes your body feel good! If you eat a high-fat meal and you immediately get sleepy, this is a clue that your body is not digesting fat well. You can then explore what that means. Does it mean you need to eat a low-fat diet? Possibly. Does it mean that your liver is tired? Possibly. Does it mean that you may need to explore ways to improve your digestion? Definitely!
Your body has an innate way of letting you know what’s going on. It is designed to feel good! So when it doesn’t…. That’s your first clue to begin tracking your food and becoming a detective in your health. Once you have become in tune with your body, the next step is often to go online and do some research. This is where it can get tricky. You need to find some credible sources that you can rely on for information. Check who wrote the article you are reading and if it is funded by any particular agency or company. Aim to find a source of information that has no agenda and remains unbiased. A source that offers multiple approaches to their content and doesn’t cater to one specific way of eating. If you like reading more scientific articles, try Google Scholar. This is a valuable resource where you can find articles and research on certain topics. However, even here you need to look into the researchers and who is funding the study or survey.
We find it useful to have a few credible sites that you can trust no matter what the content. Or, websites that are aligned with your values. It is much easier to go to one or two sources for your unbiased information than to search for hours for reputable sites.
Another important key is to seek professional advice about your symptoms or questions regarding your health. Nutritionists are trained in how to support your unique body with nutrients. If things feel out of balance, they are a solid resource for helping you find a healthy state.
How can Low Fat Low Carb help?
We don’t have an agenda. Well, that’s not entirely true… Our mission is to help our members become the healthiest, happiest eaters they can be!
We value ourselves on being very thorough in our research and content. Ensuring that we offer multiple perspectives that remain aligned with our value of providing great information. Having nutritionists on our team ensures that we remain true to our belief that you are unique and the information that you are reading reflects an unbiased representation of nutrition, diet and health.
The research we do online in medical journals and publications is also available to you. Taking the time to do a little research of your own will go a long way in adding validity to statements from us or any other website or company.
When it comes to nutrition myths, just remember that they can come and go. The foundations of a solid diet are constant. Focus on fresh produce, leaner animal products, safe starches, and raw nuts and seeds. Avoid refined grains, refined sugars, and processed foods. Drink clean water and support your body with nutrient-dense foods.
When you focus on these principles, health can be attained quite easily. Tune out all of the other noise and watch your energy increase, your health becomes more balanced, and the pounds melt off.
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