People try to live healthy for many different reasons. Whether that’s to lose weight, look and feel fit, or to live a long and happy life. We go to the gym and work out profusely. However, it is quickly discovered that exercise is only half of the equation. The other half is what we put into our bodies.
Everyone has been on a diet at some point in their lives. We all know the struggle. We try so hard to make healthier food choices, staying away from our favorite dishes and desserts, only to see the needle move ever so slightly on the scales. Of course, it goes without saying. Proper diet and nutrition are essential to maximizing the result of your hard work at the gym, and without it, your efforts will all be in vain.
However, diet and nutrition can become incredibly complex and confusing. With so much information readily available these days, it’s hard to sift through the noise, and determine which bits and pieces are either truths or myths. Let’s face it. The internet is a pitfall of misinformation.
We’ve taken the time out to present a few myths and try to debunk them for you, so you won’t make these mistakes that will no doubt set you back.
Today, Evolve Daily shares seven nutrition myths hurting your diet.
1) It’s all about calories
The most pervasive myth in human nutrition is that all calories are the same. This is what they teach you anyway. Weight loss is a game of calories in versus calories out, and you have to maintain a caloric deficit in order to see progress. While that’s inherently true, the fact of the matter is, not all calories are made equal.
Despite every kCal being worth approximately 4,184 Joules of energy, regardless of the source, the truth is that the human body is a complex biochemical machine with massively complicated metabolic processes. So things can’t just be that simple.
For example, a gram of carbohydrates has 4 kCal, equal to the 4 kCal of protein. But some part of these calories is lost in metabolism. Protein is much harder to break down, and this means about 30% of the total kCal count is utilised in protein metabolism alone. This is also the reason why protein-heavy diets are highly effective in promoting weight loss.
A half-inch 200 gram cut of ribeye steak is roughly 250 kCal. But so is a single cupcake. It’s just not the same. You get the picture.
2) Always eat a big breakfast
Some time in the early 1900’s, breakfast was promoted as the healthiest meal of the day, and that in order to function properly, you had to have a big breakfast. People were taught to eat like a king in the morning, like a prince at lunch, and like a pauper in the evening, pertaining to meal sizes. But what we’ve learned in recent years of study is, that certainly is not the case.
For the office worker with a standard nine-to-five job, a big breakfast loaded with carbs and calories is not exactly required. Heavy breakfasts were once recommended during a time when there were fewer desk jobs and more physically taxing professions. In the modern-day, having a big breakfast can actually turn out to be detrimental to your fitness and health, depending on your particular lifestyle.
Of course, there are some people who benefit from a big breakfast: blue-collar workers, pregnant women, children, and growing teenagers. If you don’t belong to any of the above, why not try intermittent fasting? Skip your usual morning meal and break your fast at lunch instead.
3) “Diet” food is healthier than regular food
While not all diet food is a sham, a significant amount certainly are. People love shopping for foods that have a “healthy” label emblazoned on the packaging — things like “Fat Free”, “Sugar Free”, or “Low Carb” — when in fact, they’re not healthy at all. Sometimes, it’s completely the opposite.
On your next grocery run, pick up one of the regular items and its “diet” version and actually compare nutrition facts. You’ll see that “sugar free” versions, in most cases, have higher calories due to the hidden chemicals and artificial sweeteners. “Low Fat” or “Fat Free” versions contain excess sodium, and so on. So while you think you’re buying healthy, you’re really not.
Furthermore, these diet shams cost a whole lot more for a whole lot of nothing. The best option is still eating clean and fresh, whether in your meals or snacks, or otherwise.
4) Skinny is healthy
Beauty standards change over the years and are perpetuated by mainstream media. What was considered the “ideal body” in the 1950s would be considered unideal today. It’s important to disregard these standards as you go on your own fitness journey, and understand that the only standards you should work towards are the ones you set for yourself.
Work out to be healthy, not to be skinny. Healthy is not about being a size zero. It’s about fueling your body with proper nutrition and exercising to keep your organs functioning well. Healthy is feeling great on the inside, as much as you do on the outside. It’s about having a better relationship with food, and loving the person you see in the mirror, no matter the shape.
5) Smoothies and juices are healthy
Fruits are healthy because they contain a lot of vitamins and nutrients, and a high amount of fiber that aids in digestion. They also taste really good, making them a great snack alternative to chips and biscuits. Fruits only became bad when someone decided to juice them.
Fruit juices and fruit shakes are not as healthy as actual fruits. The process of juicing gives you the sugar and leaves behind all the fibre. If your juice is store-bought, then it’s even worse since they’re likely processed and contain more sugar as well.
Smoothies, on the other hand, have an established reputation as healthy food. This makes it easier to forget that a single serving of smoothie has so much more fruit and vegetables than we eat in one sitting, loading it with excessive calories. And as we’ve learned before, it’s best not to drink your calories.
Fruits are a great addition to protein shakes, however, if only a couple of pieces are put in. Remember, everything in moderation.
6) Weight loss is easy
If losing weight was easy, then everyone would be doing it. Nowadays, large companies, and even individuals, sell you on the “shortcut”. Everyone wants to lose weight fast, which is why it’s easy to make bold, unfounded claims. So many people get fooled by infomercials and ads they see on the internet, that only really tricks people into buying a product or service that will “magically” help them lose weight.
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Many companies advertise health and weight loss with the use of their products but don’t be fooled by their marketing tricks. Weight loss is a long and hard journey that you have to undertake, and shortcutting it through diet pills and laxative teas will give you suboptimal results. While those products can help you lose some weight, it’s not exactly a safe process, and they will mess up your digestion which can hurt you in the long run.
7) Carbs are the enemy
From the Atkins Diet and South Beach Diet, to the Keto Diet, carbs are demonised by many, many types of diets. It has been for years and years, and just comes in different names.
People usually try to minimise or eliminate all sorts of carbs from their diets, as if they’re evil foods created to make us fat. In reality, carbs are the body’s primary source of energy, and while we should definitely eat them in moderation, they should not be missing from a well-balanced, human diet. Carb-deficiency can manifest as headaches, nausea, constipation, and micronutrient deficiencies.
Instead, strive to incorporate a well-balanced diet into your lifestyle. The acceptable macronutrient distribution ranges are 45–65% of your daily calories from carbs, 20–35% from fats, and 10–35% from protein, although this may vary depending on your situation.
The bottom line is, don’t do away with carbs completely. You need them.