Source with thanks from healthline.com
There are so many sources of information these days. The internet has multiplied it many times over. It’s been further bolstered by the social media activity. This availability of endless information has only complicated your ability to separate fact from myths. It’s especially true in the nutrition space. The article below will take you through some of the biggest myths related to nutrition as compiled by the author. Team RetyrSmart
Busting some of the biggest myths in nutrition
Some of the biggest myths related to nutrition:
- ‘Calories in, calories out’ is all that matters when it comes to weight loss
Though creating a calorie deficit by burning more energy than you take in is the most important factor when it comes to weight loss, it’s not the only thing that matters. Relying solely on calorie intake doesn’t account for the large number of variables that may prevent someone from losing weight, even when on a very low calorie diet.
For example, hormonal imbalances, health conditions like hypothyroidism, metabolic adaptations, the use of certain medications, and genetics are just some of the factors that may make weight loss harder for some people, even when they’re on a strict diet.
This concept also fails to emphasize the importance of sustainability and diet quality for weight loss. Those following the “calories in, calories out” method typically concentrate solely on the calorie value of foods, not their nutrient value. This can lead to choosing low calorie, nutrient-poor foods like rice cakes and egg whites over higher calorie, nutrient-dense foods like avocados and whole eggs, which isn’t the best for overall health.
- High fat foods are unhealthy
Though this antiquated and incorrect theory is slowly being put to rest, many people still fear high fat foods and follow low fat diets in the hopes that cutting their fat intake will benefit their overall health.
Dietary fat is essential for optimal health. Plus, low fat diets have been linked to a greater risk of health issues, including metabolic syndrome, and may lead to an increase in insulin resistance and triglyceride levels, which are known risk factors for heart disease
Of course, extremes in either direction, whether it be a very low fat or very high fat diet, may harm your health, especially when diet quality is poor.
- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day
While it was once thought that eating breakfast was one of the most important factors in setting yourself up for a healthy day, research has shown that this might not be the case for most adults
For instance, research indicates that forgoing breakfast may result in reduced calorie intake Moreover, partaking in intermittent fasting, during which breakfast is either skipped or consumed later in the day, has been linked to a plethora of benefits, including improved blood sugar control and reductions in inflammatory markers
However, intermittent fasting can also be accomplished by consuming a regular breakfast then having your last meal earlier in the evening to maintain a fasting window of 14–16 hours.
Regardless, if you enjoy breakfast, eat it. If you’re not a breakfast person, don’t feel the need to add it to your daily routine.
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- You need to eat small, frequent meals for optimal health
Eating small, frequent meals regularly throughout the day is a method used by many people to boost metabolism and weight loss. However, if you are healthy, the frequency of your meals does not matter as long as you meet your energy needs.
That said, those with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), as well as those who are pregnant, may benefit from eating more frequent meals.
- White potatoes are unhealthy
Often labeled as “unhealthy” by those in the nutrition world, white potatoes are restricted by many people wanting to lose weight or improve their overall health. While eating too much of any food — including white potatoes — can lead to weight gain, these starchy tubers are highly nutritious and can be included as part of a healthy diet.
White potatoes are an excellent source of many nutrients, including potassium, vitamin C, and fibre. Plus, they’re more filling than other carb sources like rice and pasta and can help you feel more satisfied after meals. Just remember to enjoy potatoes baked or roasted, not fried
- Low fat and diet foods are healthy alternatives
Take a trip to your local grocery store and you’ll find a variety of products labeled “diet,” “light,” “low fat,” and “fat-free.” While these products are tempting to those wanting to shed excess body fat, they’re typically an unhealthy choice.
Research has shown that many low fat and diet items contain much more added sugar and salt than their regular-fat counterparts. It’s best to forgo these products and instead enjoy small amounts of foods like full fat yogurt, cheese, and nut butters
- Supplements are a waste of money
While focusing on consuming a nutrient-dense, well-rounded diet is the most essential component of health, supplements — when used correctly and in the right form — can be beneficial in many ways.
For many, especially those with health conditions like type 2 diabetes, as well as those who take common medications like statins, proton pump inhibitors, birth control, and antidiabetic medications, taking specific supplements can significantly affect their health
For example, supplementing with magnesium and B vitamins has been shown to benefit those with type 2 diabetes by enhancing blood sugar and reducing heart disease risk factors and diabetes-related complications
- Following a very low calorie diet is the best way to lose weight
While reducing calorie intake can indeed boost weight loss, cutting calories too low can lead to metabolic adaptations and long-term health consequences.
Though going on a very low calorie diet will likely promote rapid weight loss in the short term, long-term adherence to very low calorie diets leads to a reduction in metabolic rate, increased feelings of hunger, and alterations in fullness hormones This makes long-term weight maintenance difficult.
- You have to be skinny to be healthy
Obesity is associated with many health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, certain cancers, and even early death
Still, reducing your disease risk does not mean you have to be skinny. What’s most important is consuming a nutritious diet and maintaining an active lifestyle, as these behaviours often improve your body weight and body fat percentage.
- Fibre supplements are a good substitute for high fibre foods
Many people struggle with getting adequate dietary fibre, which is why fibre supplements are so popular. Although fibre supplements can benefit health by improving bowel movements and blood sugar control, they should not replace real food
High fibre whole foods like vegetables, beans, and fruit contain nutrients and plant compounds that work synergistically to promote your health, and they can’t be replaced by fibre supplements.
- All smoothies and juices are healthy
Certain juices and smoothies are highly nutritious. For example, a nutrient-dense smoothie or freshly made juice composed primarily of non-starchy vegetables can be a great way to increase your vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant intake.
Yet, it’s important to know that most juices and smoothies sold at stores are loaded with sugar and calories. When consumed in excess, they can promote weight gain and other health issues like tooth decay and blood sugar dysregulation
- Weight loss is easy
Don’t be fooled by the dramatic before and after pictures used by supplement companies and stories of rapid weight loss attained with little to no effort.
Weight loss is not easy. It requires consistency, self-love, hard work, and patience. Plus, genetics and other factors make weight loss much harder for some than others.
If you’re struggling to lose weight, you’re not alone. The best thing to do is drown out the weight loss noise that you’re exposed to every day and find a nourishing and sustainable dietary and activity pattern that works for you.
- High cholesterol foods are unhealthy
Cholesterol-rich foods have gotten a bad rap thanks to misconceptions about how dietary cholesterol affects heart health. While some people are more sensitive to dietary cholesterol than others, overall, nutrient-dense, cholesterol-rich foods can be included in a healthy diet
In fact, including cholesterol-rich, nutritious foods like eggs and full fat yogurt in your diet may boost health by enhancing feelings of fullness and providing important nutrients that other foods lack
- Carbs make you gain weight
Just as fat has been blamed for promoting weight gain and heart disease, carbs have been shunned by many people over fears that consuming this macronutrient will cause obesity, diabetes, and other adverse health effects.
In reality, eating a moderate amount of nutritious carbs that are high in fibre, vitamins, and minerals like starchy root vegetables, ancient grains, and legumes will likely benefit your health — not harm it.
For example, dietary patterns that contain a balanced mix of high fibre carbs mainly from produce, healthy fats, and proteins, such as the Mediterranean diet, have been associated with a reduced risk of obesity, diabetes, certain cancers, and heart disease
However, carb-rich foods like cakes, cookies, sweetened beverages, and white bread should be restricted, as these foods can increase weight gain and disease risk when eaten in excess. As you can see, food quality is the main predictor of disease risk
The bottom line
The nutrition world is rife with misinformation, leading to public confusion, mistrust of health professionals, and poor dietary choices.
This, coupled with the fact that nutrition science is constantly changing, makes it no wonder that most people have a warped view of what constitutes a healthy diet.
Although these nutrition myths are likely here to stay, educating yourself by separating fact from fiction when it comes to nutrition can help you feel more empowered to develop a nutritious and sustainable dietary pattern that works for your individual needs.