5 Nutrition Myths You Need to Know About…and Ignore
“You need to eat less fat”
“Cut out the carbs and you will be just fine”
“Don’t eat past 6pm…the food will be stored as fat”
“You don’t need a lot of protein”
“Don’t eat dairy…it is bad for you!”
If you are into your health and fitness, or have not been living under a rock for the past decade, chances are you have heard one of the above statements…if not all of them.
And if you are like most of us, you will take what you hear (and read) and at least wonder if what you are told is true. This is especially the case when the information is the result of a “new study.”
The unfortunate fact is that many of the studies conducted, and the information shared from the studies, is influenced by the underlying wants of those sponsoring the studies.
This means that most of the nutritional studies we hear of are biased towards the results that will most benefit the companies sponsoring them.
If there are some new “low fat” or “no fat” food products that a company can make a killing on selling, it will be to their benefit to sponsor (and influence) a study that finds that fat is bad for health and performance.
Do to this, there are many nutritional myths that are still circulating throughout our society that have very little evidence backing them, or are downright wrong!
Below I will go over 5 myths that have been out there for a while, and still proceed to have many of us question what we need to do to keep our bodies healthy, muscles growing and prevent ourselves from becoming a real life “Klump.”
Fat is bad and makes you fat!
The “fat is bad for you” statement has been around since the 1980s and has gone back and forth many times since then. One year fat is the worst thing you can consume, the next it is a godsend your health and performance.
So you may have heard, fat is the number one thing that will make you fat!
Or on the other side, that you should eat tons of fat, crush bacon and put loads of butter in your coffee.
Well like most nutritional extremes, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
First, fat is an essential part to a healthy diet as fat plays a major role in many bodily functions. Saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat are all useful.
Foods such as nuts, olive oils, avocados, fish, animal meats, seeds, etc. contain fats that will help us obtain the healthy body we want.
The one fat to stay away from is trans-fat, as it is a man made variation that has been linked with many health detriments.
Any product with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils is something to stay away from, so check your nutritional labels.
But just because fat is necessary for a healthy and high performing body doesn’t mean that you should consume extreme amounts of fat day in and day out.
Not because fat makes you fat, but because too much of anything can result in unwanted side effects.
Staying with that thought, fat does not make you fat, but too much fat will make you fat!
Gaining or losing fat, first and foremost, comes down to total caloric intake.
If you eat too many calories you will gain fat. Eat less calories than your body requires and you will lose fat (and muscle if you are not careful).
But the thing you have to remember about dietary fat is that it contains 9 calories per gram. When we compare this to carbs and protein which each contain 4 calories per gram, we can see how it is easy to draw the conclusion that fat makes you fat.
Again, fat does not make you fat…too much fat makes you fat. And with 9 calories per gram, we have to be aware of how much we are consuming because it is extremely easy to eat more than we need and end up too high on the calorie count.
Oh how easy it is to eat more than 1 serving…
Lastly, low fat options, are always talked about…either good or bad depending on who you are speaking with.
The nice thing about low fat options is that they do typically provide less calories than the full fat options. The bad thing is that the fat is typically replaced with sugar so that the food doesn’t taste like straight butt.
Too much added sugar can also be detrimental to you health, performance and looks, so just beware of low fat options. There are some low fat options that are decent, so just make sure to check the nutritional label and if there is a metric crap ton of sugar, keep looking.
All in all, fats are not bad and are not the direct cause for you being a little jigglier than you want to be.
Just make sure you are consuming the proper fats (from the examples above), and make sure to keep the quantity in check.
2. Carbs are bad and making you fat!
Similar to fats, carbs have been demonized as the nutrient that causes you to take your tubbiness to the next level.
The main reason we have pointed to carbs as the perpetrator of fat gain, is that when we consume carbs, our insulin levels rise and cause us to store energy in our cells. One form of storage is fat.
The problem is that it is not the rise in insulin that causes us to store fat, it is the rise in insulin plus a caloric surplus that results in the storage of fat.
In fact, we want to store energy in order to perform at a high level. This energy storage is referred to as muscle glycogen, which is utilized during high intensity efforts…training or sports anyone?
If the calories taken in are slightly higher than maintenance levels (the amount of calories it takes to maintain weight), at maintenance levels or below maintenance levels, we will not store fat, even if insulin spikes.
Our first form of storage will go in as muscle glycogen, especially when we are depleting glycogen during training and sport (another great benefit of being active and training!).
If we do not train and deplete glycogen stores in our muscles (and liver), and/or we consume too many calories, we are likely going to store those extra calories as…you’ve got it, FAT!
So just like fat, carbs are not the issue for many of us, but too many carbs…there is the problem!
The hardest part is that carbs are EVERYWHERE!!!
Much of the food available to the American people (and many others around the world) are highly processed carbs that contain lots of calories and little nutrition.
Not only that, but because many of these foods are simple carbohydrates (think crackers, cereals, most fruity bars, breads, muffins, etc.) they do not result in a feeling of fullness…ever wonder why you could eat the whole box of rice krispies and feel like you had room for another?
So not only are they high in calories and low in nutrients, but they also do not fill you up…the perfect recipe for continued crushing of carbs.
Carbohydrate sources such as potatoes, rice, ezekiel bread, whole grain pastas, fruit, veggies, oatmeal and the like are more complex carbs that fill you up and also provide some more nutrition…so opt for those instead.
With that, the reason that many of us do well when we cut back on our carbs is simple: In doing so, we are likely to cut back on our total caloric intake.
Take that with removing highly processed foods that contain loads of sugar and you will also likely experience higher levels of energy, less systemic inflammation and a new feeling of being a badass…all good things that will lead to more activity and a healthier, higher performing and better looking body.
But beware, if you cut carbs from your regimen all together, you will likely experience decreased performance, lethargy and irritability…ya you will turn into a complete A Hole!
Eat the higher quality carbs most of the time, and make sure to consume proper amounts and you will be just fine chomping on some carbs.
3. Don’t eat past 6pm…it will all go to fat.
When you are sleeping you are typically not moving much (unless you are one of those sleep walkers) and therefore your body does not use calories.
Do to this thought process, it seems logical that food consumed later in the day would go directly towards fat storage as the energy is not being used.
But, the fact is that when we are sleeping we are repairing and many bodily functions are occurring that require energy (calorie) utilization.
Not only that, but hopefully by now you realize that the most important factor when it comes to weight/fat gain or loss is the total amount of calories you consume daily.
So it is not the fact that eating past 6pm is the reason you gain fat, but more because of the total amount of calories you have taken in throughout the entire day. Again, if you consume more than you use, you will gain weight.
The reason many have done well with this tactic is because basically they are cutting off 3-5 hours of the day where they don’t eat. This typically results in less calories taken in throughout the day, and voila, they lose fat.
The only other consideration is that some of us do not sleep well when our stomach are full. The digestive process may interfere with your ability to fall and stay asleep…but in my experience that is on an individual basis.
I personally crush a nighttime snack, and I promise you it has not resulted in fat accumulation. Not only that, but a full belly puts me to sleep.
But, I make sure to stay within the daily calories necessary for me to achieve my goals while I enjoy a little snack past 6pm.
4. You only need .8g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight
If you look up the RDA for protein you will find that the guidelines suggest an intake of .8g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight, or .36g per pound of bodyweight.
Putting this into an example, this would mean that a 150lb person would need around 54g per day.
What the recommendation does not highlight though, is that this amount is to ensure that you are not protein deficient.
Just because you are not protein deficient does not mean that you have the necessary amount of protein to support training, sport or a body that will not fold in half when the wind blows too hard.
Protein is a key player not only in repair and the assimilation of muscle, but also in many bodily functions including hormone production, immune system function, digestion and more.
And even more, those of us who are consistently challenging our bodies physically demand more protein as these activities breakdown structures that require protein to help repair and build back up.
Next, protein is the most satiating macronutrient, meaning that you will feel full for longer. This is critical to staving off hunger.
Lastly, it takes roughly 30% of the energy from protein to metabolize it…meaning when it comes to calories you are using 30% of the calories from protein to simply break it down and get it ready for absorption.
Because of the many benefits to protein, I suggest intaking 1g of protein per pound of desired bodyweight. That means if you are 150 pounds and looking to gain 10 pounds, you should consume 160g of protein per day. On the other side, if you are 220 pounds and looking to lose 10 pounds you should aim for 210g per day.
Protein is critical for health and performance and the RDA is too low for the active individual…most of us reading this!
5. Eat dairy and all kinds of bad crap will happen!
When someone told me that I was not meant to eat dairy and that it was in fact poisonous to human beings, not only was I giving them the middle finger in my head, but I had the WTF are you talking about look all over my face.
They will argue that because our ancestors did not consume dairy that human beings are not meant to have it. They say that it decreases health, performance and overall well being.
There is something called adaptation and evolution and we as humans have been pretty good at it.
So stating just because our ancestors didn’t consume dairy is like saying we shouldn’t brush our teeth because our ancestors didn’t have soft bristle tooth brushes and Crest.
Although there are some of us that are lactose intolerant and will negatively react to consumption of dairy, those of us that are lactose TOLERANT can handle dairy just fine, and in fact, can experience many benefits of the nutrients that dairy provides.
If you do a quick PubMed search you will find many studies have found correlation with dairy consumption and positive outcomes in markers of health.
So if you are not lactose intolerant, go ahead and consume dairy. You will be A OK and you will likely benefit from the nutrients dairy provides.
The Take Away
From the beginning of nutritional awareness time (made that one up), we have heard that certain foods are good, bad or purely toxic.
While some of these statements hold merit, many times when there is an extreme stance one way or another there is usually an outside influence trying to influence you for their own benefit.
Hopefully going through the above myths has helped you better understand that when it comes to nutrition, you can’t always listen to the big media stories…hell, you don’t even have to listen to me.
Just stay curious and ask questions. And if you have any thought or comments let me know.
Pass this on to those you care about, or even if you don’t care about them, you can show them that they have been fooled by these nutritional myths.
To you health and performance,