Nutrition is one of those topics that tends to confuse a lot of people, yourself perhaps included.
At it’s core, eating is a simple concept: we eat to feed our bodies. But there are a number of common ideologies that make eating a lot more complicated than it needs to be – transforming it from “simple” to stressful…
The truth is, food means BIG business to a lot of people. There are new products lining our grocery store shelves daily, food trends littering the Internet, and countless numbers of books, articles and blog posts telling you what and what not to eat.
It’s no wonder you’re confused.
The list of “diet” buzz words is never-ending, leaving a trail of confused, misinformed and in some cases, malnourished people in their wakes.
To help unmuddy the waters and remove some of the confusion surrounding many of these common, (and growing) trends here are 5 nutrition myths that you need to stop believing.
5 Nutrition Myths that you Need to Stop Believing
1. The idea that juice cleanses you
The juice cleanse is a trend (like many) that’s provoked by a number of high-profile celebrity endorsements and dubious claims. But don’t be fooled – these claims are not backed by proof.
Personally I don’t understand what the people supporting these juice cleanses are trying to rid their bodies of… or more importantly, why juice is thought to be able to fulfill this so called detoxification.
The primary role of your kidneys is to remove any waste products from your body by a metabolic process. While your liver filters drugs and alcohol, as well as any other organic derived waste(s) that enters your blood.
Kale is pretty awesome, but it’s no liver… just saying.
Now I’m not saying that fruits and vegetables aren’t good for you, OR that you shouldn’t eat them regularly. Of course you should—most people don’t eat enough.
But the idea that drinking juice will “cleanse” your body is a fallacy.
Before I continue, let me be clear: a cold-pressed juice or fresh fruit/veggie smoothie is a good option if you’re not able to make time for a proper meal. I personally drink a fruit and veggie protein smoothie every morning before I come to BIM.
But your diet NEEDS to consist of other foods besides juice to ensure that it’s properly nourished… and juice does not have magic cleansing abilities.
If you’d like to learn more about this topic then I encourage you to read these four (fantastic) articles on the topic:
- Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence, Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics
- Detox Diets and Juice Cleanses, Precision Nutrition
- ‘Detox’: Science or Sales Pitch?
- Fancy Juice Doesn’t Cleanse the Body of Toxins, The New York Times
2. Eat Less. Exercise more
The most common way that people try to lose weight is to cut their calories and add in cardio. This system can be effective for a certain period of time, but you will eventually reach a point where you stop seeing results…
Has this happened to you?
Well if you reach a plateau before you’ve hit your goal you need to adapt. The question I’m sure you’re asking is HOW?
Do you restrict your calories more and/or add in more exercise… or both?!
If you continue down a path of restriction you’re going to end up hating your life. Ask anyone who’s gone down that road. It’s a dangerous track that can become terribly unhealthy for you and your metabolism, and in the end, hinder you from reaching your weight lose goal.
To give you a better idea of why, let me explain…
Your body is efficient and really good at adapting to many of the stressors we inflict on it daily. Restricting your calories is a stress to your body, and when you go through a period of doing so, your metabolism adjusts accordingly by slowing down. This process is called metabolic adaptation.
When you restrict your calories your body will fight back and down regulate (aka slow) your metabolism to help conserve energy. The problem occurs when you stop dieting and return to your previous style of eating… Why? Because of the lasting affect your dieting has had on your metabolism.
This is why you lose weight for a short period of time, then gain it all back when you stop.
It is possible to lose weight without starving yourself, it all comes down to your nutrition. The fact is, if you want long-term results, proper nutrition is essential.
For on why/how, read this article: How To Eat Your Way To Weight Loss.
There’s no question that exercise facilitates weight loss. But it is important to understand that your body also adapts to the physical demands you impose on it.
You get better and more efficient when you exercise, but as a result, your body becomes able to do the same job without utilizing as many calories.
This is great for everything but weight loss. So you can see why more exercise isn’t necessarily the answer if you’re trying to lose weight.
So what do you do if you ARE trying to lose weight? Should you still be exercising?
The short answer is: ABSOLUTELY
We can use strategies such as increasing the intensity of your workout and/or adding in new exercises, to “keep you body guessing.” But it’s very easy to fall into a rabbit hole with the mentality that more is better and harder is more effective. As a result, most people who live with this mentality end up running their bodies into the ground.
What’s even worse is that most people who follow this rule stop seeing results, start gaining back weight, and/or have a major set back due to exhaustion or injury.
Your exercise routine should be used as a way to better your body, not as a form of punishment… or as a way to offset what you think you shouldn’t have ate that day.
The cost of the eat less, exercise more method leads to a bad relationship with food and exercise, frustration, and the yoyo effect (when you lose weight then gain it all back) so DON’T DO IT.
3. Carbs are bad for you
Carbohydrates have a bad rap – namely because people (yourself perhaps included) don’t fully understand what types of carbohydrates will best serve their body based on their body type and activity level.
It’s important to understand that carbs are the primary a source of immediate energy for all of your body’s cells… So yes, you should be eating them… even if you are trying to loose weight.
Here are some examples of different sources of carbohydrates:
- All fruits and vegetables
- Beans and legumes
- Grains (wheat, corn, quinoa, oats, etc)
Although the fundamental process of digestion is the same, people differ in their tolerance and handling of each type of carbohydrate.
The bottom line?
Some people can get away with eating high amounts of starchier carbs without the associated weight gain. While others have to be a bit more strategic with the types of carbs that they eat and when.
The amount of carbohydrates that you should consume depends on your body size and activity level. In other words, bigger and/or more active people need more carbs, while smaller and more sedentary people require less. Intake is also dependent on how much dietary fat and protein you are consuming daily.
The average person’s minimum carbohydrate intake should be approximately 130 grams per day; with the majority coming from vegetables, but still including legumes and whole grains.
Higher amounts of carbohydrates are needed with increased muscle mass and increased physical activity levels. It is worth understanding that excessive carbohydrate consumption will be stored for future use as glycogen or fat. So don’t go and carb load unless you’re prepping for an activity that will require you to burn a lot of calories.
In most cases if you avoid sugary baked goods, big pasta meals, or rice dominate dishes and focus on consuming more vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains you don’t have to worry about specific calculations.
The infographic below is from Precision Nutrition and gives you a good visual of what a typical meal should look like for you.
The reason why starchier carbs are encouraged post workout is because they help replenish glycogen stores in your muscles and liver.
If you’re still confused and would like to get a better idea of the specific amounts of carbs, proteins and fats that you should be consuming (based on your activity level and body type) I strong suggest that you read THIS article.
4. If it’s not organic, it’s not healthy
I like the way Adam Bornstein summarized this topic in one of his articles when he said…
“Organic agriculture has many environmental benefits (i.e.: reduction of agricultural pollutants and the preservation of on-farm biodiversity), but from a nutritional standpoint, a conventional avocado offers the same heart-healthy fats found in an organic avocado, and both conventional and organic oranges are excellent sources of vitamin C, etc.”
Look at it this way: Does the nutrition content of a cookie change if it’s organic or not?
The answer is no.
There’s a lot of controversy surrounding organic and non-organic foods, with strong messages saying that unless your meats, vegetables and grains are organic they are not as good or healthy for you.
Let’s put aside personal opinions and beliefs here. At the end of the day when you look at this topic from a scientific standpoint, there is nothing but fighting studies, with no real conclusive answer outlining what is REALLY better for you.
If you’re choosing to eat more veggies, better sources or protein, and unprocessed grains you are doing good. From a fitness (and health) perspective my goal is accomplished if people are eating to support their body, not to support my beliefs.
If you choose to eat organic because it fits your budget and beliefs, than that’s great too. But if others don’t, that’s there choice and until science proves otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with it.
I’ll leave it at that.
5. Diets work
Diets work… UNTIL THEY DON’T.
In it, he referred to this process as the Oprah paradox.
Some really important questions to ask yourself before you start a diet or change your nutrition plan are:
- What happens after you’re done dieting or “cleansing”?
- How long can you truly follow a regimented meal plan?
- How realistic is it to change everything at once (your diet, exercise regime, etc.) and expect near perfect compliance?
- How long can you maintain what you’re doing?
What’s difficult about all of the above approaches is that they are extremely hard to maintain. Hence why I say that, “Diets only work until they don’t.”
When people reach their desired weight and stop their diet they normally return to their old ways of eating, so no REAL change is achieved. When you go back to eating the foods that you ate before you’re diet you may not able to eat the same amount of calories as you could before without gaining weight.
Instant gratification does not come without a cost.
Keep it simple. It’s doesn’t sound sexy, it doesn’t have a fancy name, it means you will have slower results, but it WILL set you up for long-term success… which is what you want in the end. It also won’t leave you feeling hungry, deprived and hating life, and most important, is it healthy, sustainable, and will give you consistent RESULTS.
The rule is 80/20…
- 80% whole and minimally processed foods that you like
- 10% that you don’t necessarily like, but don’t hate either
- 10% whatever you want
Simple, not easy, but extremely effective.
If you’re looking for something more complicated, you may want to ask yourself if you’re REALLY just looking for an excuse not to do it in the first place. Weight loss can be hard, but like nutrition, it shouldn’t be complicated.
Stress is one of the hardest things on your body. Adding stress to something that you do daily, like eat, will only have detrimental affects on your overall health. So stop stressing and enjoy your food.
If you feel like you need help and are interested in learning how you can make the changes listed above (and more) so that you can finally achieve the weight loss goal that’s eluding you, fill out the form below and let’s have a conversation about it.
- Barbara V. Howard, PHD; Judith Wylie-Rosett, RD, EdD. Sugar and Cardiovascular Disease: A Statement for Healthcare Professionals From the Committee on Nutrition of the Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism of the American Heart Association
- Jenkins DJ, Wolever TM, Kalmusky J, Guidici S, Giordano C, Patten R, Wong GS, Bird JN, Hall M, Buckley G. Low-glycemic diet in hyperlipidemia: use of traditional starchy foods. Am J Clin Nutr 1987;46:66-71.
- “Canadians trapped on a weight-loss rollercoaster.” Retrieved from http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=ikIQLcMWJtE&b=3485819&ct=8136053