Each and every day a new food group is hailed as heavenly or demonised in the press. One minute something’s the best thing since sliced bread – the next we’re being told to avoid it like the plague. This kind of ‘good cop, bad cop’ mentality often creates confusion for those of us who are trying to eat healthily and stay trim.
Fortunately when it comes to nutrition our advice is simple – ignore what you read in the news, and instead follow the basic principles of a healthy, balanced diet. Despite this there’s lots of questionable advice out there, so knowing what to believe (and what not to believe) can be tricky. Here we share three of the most common nutrition myths that many believe and live by – sometimes inadvertently affecting their progress and results.
‘Carbs are bad for you and will make you fat’
Let’s set the record straight on carbs. They are not all bad and in fact they are necessary in order to reach your fitness goal – whether you want to look slimmer or feel stronger. Many religiously follow a low GI diet in the hope that it will keep them from gaining weight – but there’s little evidence to suggest that following a paleo or keto diet in the long-term is any better for your health than eating a balance of healthy carbs each day. ‘Yo-yo dieting‘ has downsides such as depression, fatigue and the desire to binge through the starvation response once the diet is ‘complete’. As with all foods, the more sustainable policy is to cut down on anything refined and processed, and focus on natural, wholefoods with a variety of carbs including rice, potatoes and grains.
‘If you want to stay healthy and thin, you should avoid or cut down on fat.’
Just like carbs, the wrap on fat is much more complicated than simply saying ‘it’s bad for you’ as most nutrition myths do (which it isn’t). Fats play a vital role in our overall bodily function, and their demonisation over the past few years has in fact contributed to the obesity crisis rather than alleviated it. This is because ‘low fat’ diet foods have flooded the market – loaded with sugar and chemicals that actually make you fat rather than helping you to stay slim. Our bodies need a decent dose of fats daily (notably those with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) to function properly. Salmon, tuna, herring, and anchovies all contain contain omega-3 fats. Plant-based sources of omega-3 fats include flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.
If you want to maximise your diet and fitness results, avoid anything processed that claims to be ‘low fat’. Instead focus on real foods containing good fats – trans-fat is the ‘bad fat’ we hear about in the press – but a little every so often won’t do too much harm.
‘Eat often (read ‘all the time’) to keep your metabolism going’
One school of thought in recent years recommends constantly snacking and eating six or more ‘mini meals’ per day as opposed to a standard regime of three mains and several snacks. In theory, it works – research has shown that digestion boosts metabolism, so eating little and often should keep it raised consistently, right? Not necessarily. In one study two groups were given the same amount of calories. One ate three square meals – the other group was given multiple smaller portions throughout the day. The results showed that no matter when you eat and how much, the outcome was very much the same in the end. This could be one of the most noticeably destructive nutrition myths – as it’s very easy to eat more calories than you put out in a day when consuming meals this way. The important (and obvious) point is that we have much more control over our rate of daily physical activity than the speed of or metabolism.
Need expert advice to help you avoid nutrition myths and make swifter progress? Get in touch with us today for tailored nutrition plans and fitness regimes.