Nutritional Fallacies Unveiled

In the fitness field, diet is undoubtedly one of the most debated and often misunderstood topics. Somehow many claim to know what they’re talking about yet have no proof to support their out righteous claims.

Regardless of your goals, you will come across a plethora of conflicting information anywhere from the latest fiad diets to internet forums and even  sometimes our grandparents. This forms a ripple effect as its passed on from one person to another and from generation to generation.

This article will hopefully clear out some of the most common misconceptions regarding diet.

First off, in recollection of some of the most outrageous claims and fallacies, I’d like to ask for a moment of silence and dedicate the following pic

Now, let’s get to it…

Myth # 1 Diet soda is harmless and better than regular soda for weight management

Countless studies conducted by the obesity community are proving that sweeteners in diet soda while harmless (in moderation), don’t necessarily lead to effective weight management. A study found that rats fed artificial sweeteners actually took in more calories than a control group that was fed sugar prior to mealtime. Another study conducted in Texas found that people who consumed 3 diet sodas per week were 40% more likely to be obese.

The reasoning behind this is that for one, the sweetness of sodas’, whether from artificial sweeteners or regular sugar is perceived in the same way by the body. Hence, the insulin response is the same. Another theory is that psychologically, consuming diet sodas causes one to think that they can afford to be more lax with their diet eventually leading to more calories being consumed.

Myth # 2 Low carb / low fat alternatives are healthy(er)

This is one of the many cloaks of nutritional marketing vultures. This is very successful with the misinformed desperate dieter. Little do you know that what low carb / low fat really means, is a buck load of added salt, sugar, unhealthy fats and other artificial flavorings. Just because there is an alternative low carb / low fat version of a food, doesn’t automatically make it healthier than its original counterpart, not even necessarily lower calories.

In order to make up for the stripped micronutrients, other things need to be added. The FDA Creates loop holes that these vulture corporations thrive on. Low carb versions of foods have disguised carbs added to them such as sugar alcohols. These typically have the exact same effect as carbs on the body yet the FDA allows companies not to report them as contributors to overall calories.

Another example would be reduced fat peanut butter. The amount of salt added to compensate for the bland taste is almost double of the regular version. Not to mention high fructose corn syrup is also added. Just search “high fructose corn syrup” and you will see why its bad for you.

Before you start piling low fat / low carb versions of your favorite foods into your shopping cart, take a step to educate yourself and compare the labels.

Myth # 3 Egg yolks raise your cholesterol levels

This one just wont go away.

The problem that caused this myth to start is that “ cholesterol” is used to describe two different things. Dietary cholesterol (cholesterol found in foods like meat, poultry, seafood and eggs) is different from blood cholesterol (cholesterol circulating in the body). The misconception is that cholesterol taken in through diet is thought to be directly related to the amount of cholesterol in the body. That is not true.

Your body produces its own cholesterol since it’s actually essential for many functions such as maintaining cell health, protection of nerve walls etc. There are two types of cholesterol; LDL & HDL. LDL being the “bad” cholesterol as it clogs up arteries and sticks to their walls. HDL on the other hand, helps to regulate cholesterol levels on the body as well as serve the functions I mentioned earlier. Only a small amount of dietary cholesterol contributes to circulating cholesterol. Most studies and scientists agree that good cholesterol, taken in through diet and especially when replacing unhealthy fat sources (trans and saturated fats), helps reduce the amount of unhealthy cholesterol.

Myth # 4 Six meals-a-day speeds up your metabolism

This was one of the longest running myths. Mostly brought on by supplement companies promoting their meal replacement products. While this approach does work, the underlying notion is the same as long as you stick to the right food choices and caloric level. The idea of accelerated metabolism due to the thermogenic effect of frequent feedings has been debunked.

The idea was that every time you ate, your body expended calories and energy to digest the food. In other words, the higher frequency of feedings, the more calories you burnt.  Countless studies have been conducted and the thermogenic effect of one meal a day vs. 6 meals a day was insignificant if not the same.

On another note, intermittent fasting has negated all the theories on frequent feedings and proved to be even better at times.

If the frequent meals approach works for you, then by all means follow it. It has worked for over a decade and many bodybuilders still use this approach. If its tedious and inconvenient, rest assured, less frequent feedings aren’t holding you back.

Read about intermittent fasting here.

Myth # 5 Trans fat-free foods are, well. Trans fat-free

Wrong! Again thanks to the FDA’s guidelines, the FDA allows companies to report a food as trans fat free if the amount of trans fat per “serving” is below 0.5 grams. Thanks to today’s portion sizes, we never consume just one serving of anything. What this means is that if you consume a large amount of foods containing 0.5 grams (aka 0 trans fat) of trans fat, you are blowing way past the 1 gram per 2000-calorie limit. #foodforthought

Myth # 6 Drink 8 glasses of water / day

The standard 8 glasses / day while good, may not necessarily be enough for some people. While sedentary people wont lose much water, others who engage in regular exercise, have physical jobs etc will require more water. Instead of shooting for your 8 glasses, use your urine as an indicator.

The darker your urine, the more water you need to be consuming. Aim for clear urine.

Myth # 7 A multivitamin makes you invincible

While supplementing with a multivitamin can do no harm, thinking it makes you immune to health problems, is. There is no evidence that shows that vitamins consumed through supplementation are absorbed by the body. So it may be the case that your body is just serving as a transport system from one point to another. Never be dependent on supplementation to compensate for bad dietary habits. Your goal is to maximize and capitalize on your already healthy lifestyle and not mitigation.

Myth # 8 Pregnant women should eat for two

Sorry ladies, while this sounds like heaven and you’re shoving and trampling people to get to your favorite tub of ice cream, it’s not true. According to many doctors, the first and second trimester don’t require any more calories than you did before you were pregnant. In the second and third trimester, an extra 200 – 300 calories are required.

Now, what your hormones think about that is a different story 🙂

Myth # 9 Brown bread is healthy

That depends. To know whether you’re opting for the healthier option or just a brown version of the white counterpart, look at the first ingredient. Most brown bread is just white bread with coloring (often caramel coloring) added to it. If the ingredient states “wheat flour” or “enriched bleached flour” then the main ingredient is the same as white bread. What you want to look for is “whole wheat” or “whole grain” in the ingredients, better yet it should be the first ingredient.

Fun fact: Ingredients lists are listed in order of quantity / predominance. i.e the first ingredient indicates the largest percentage of total weight. Example: if sugar is listed first, then sugar is the major ingredient used

Myth # 10 Carbs / fats make you fat

No particular macronutrient makes you fat. Excess calories make you fat. As long as you consume carbs and fats in relation to your energy needs, you will not gain weight. That applies to protein and any other food as well. Consume enough celery sticks and you’ll gain weight.

It’s that simple; Energy balance.

Myth # 11 Eating late at night causes fat gain

This is somewhat an old fallacy, yet many still believe it. The timing of your meals has little significance to your weight compared to overall caloric intake. As long as you’re making healthy choices throughout the day, it doesn’t matter what time of day you eat. Ive experimented with eating carbs mainly at night, even as close to an hour before bed and saw no difference to having them spread throughout the day.

Myth # 12 The half hour post workout window is critical for muscle gain and recovery

This came in with the 6 meals a day dogma a few years back. In order for your body to absorb the nutrients consumed, the food / shake goes through a long digestive process where protein / carbs / and fats are broken down to facilitate absorption. The nutrients you consume (depending on macronutrient make-up) will take anywhere between 1 hour – 4 hours (up to 7 hours at times) by the time it enters your blood stream.

I’ll wrap it up here and leave it to you to post up some of your own.

Dont 4get to like & comment 🙂 


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