Alternative Facts: Nutrition Edition

Popular Nutrition Myths You Need to Let Go NOW!

It seems what used to be common knowledge in the nutrition world is now nothing more than science fiction where many things are concerned. It’s hard for the average person to keep up and know fact from fiction. I find that people are really defensive of these long held beliefs even though they haven’t based them on anything other than fads or outdated government food guides, and they really dig their heels in when presented with the latest findings. It can be very frustrating!
So here are a few really common myths that I’d like to address that I’m confronted with all the time:

Myth 1:  All calories are equal! Calories in, calories out, simple as that.

Well, perhaps not quite so simple. Your body responds differently to calories from different sources. Eating 300 calories of grilled salmon is not the same as eating 300 calories of cookies. All this means is that your body is getting 300 calories of energy, but the effect this has on your health or weight is not the same. For example, it’s more work for your body to metabolize protein than carbs or fat, and protein makes you feel satisfied for longer.

The bottom line is that different foods have different effects on digestion, hunger, hormones and satiety which causes your body to react differently to the calories you’re feeding it.

Myth 2:  Grazing or eating many small meals is good for weight lose because it keeps your metabolism burning.

Honestly, yes there is a slight uptick in your metabolism when you eat. However, this is insignificant compared to the extra calories you’re ingesting by eating all the time— even if you’re eating “healthy” foods, you’re still adding calories to the bottom line. It’s also harder to keep track of the calories you’re eating if you’re mindlessly snacking throughout the day. You end up underestimating the amount of food you’ve put in your mouth.
Every time you eat you trigger your body to release insulin which is a fat storage hormone. Letting your body have a couple of hours between meals allows it to cycle through to releasing glucagon and using those fat stores for energy.

Myth 3:  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

Much of our nutritional “common knowledge” is actually just successful marketing campaigns that caught on too well. This is one of them. Eating breakfast is neither healthy nor unhealthy. If you require some fuel in the morning whether for your body or mind, by all means eat breakfast. As long as you’re making good choices and staying within your calories or macros there are no issues. BUT if you’re forcing yourself (or being forced by a well meaning loved one) under this misguided premise, please feel empowered to stop knowing that this advice is based on corporate marketing not science.

Myth 4:  Cut back or eliminate coffee altogether.

Maybe it’s the caffeine that makes coffee an easy target despite many studies that show that it has powerful health benefits. Aside from boosting mood and performance, coffee is the biggest source of antioxidants in the Western diet. It outranks both fruits and vegetables combined! It also lowers the risk of depression, type 2 diabetes and Alzheimers.
Just don’t fill it full of sugar!

Myth 5:  Skim milk is a healthy alternative to Whole milk.

First of all, I consider dairy a treat. Sure, I eat it but I categorize it the same way I do anything else I treat myself to. That aside, when drinking milk, the healthier choice among skim, 1%, 2%, and whole is actually whole. Yes, it has the highest fat content of those options, but any health benefits you may see from dairy are due to the fatty components. Choosing skim is like choosing apple juice as the healthier alternative to apples.

So there are my top 5 biggest obstacles when I’m talking to people about nutrition. Some of these are so deeply engrained in our social psyche that it’s hard to change the momentum on them, but it’s happening!
I’ve got another similar post in the works already because as I was putting this one together I realized just how many more there are out stay tuned! 🙂

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