Food producing corporations will say anything just to sell their products. Why do we believe them? Because misinformation and myths are much more seductive than the truth. Here are some of the biggest myths of mainstream and fitness nutrition :
1. High protein diets are bad for your health
Among ordinary people and even in fitness and bodybuilding circles there is a myth circling, that a high protein diet can cause kidney disease, forming of kidney stones and osteoporosis. Recent studies, however, have shown that in the long term, a high protein diet has almost the opposite effect on healthy people.
In the long term, protein has a strong association with improved bone health and a lower risk of osteoporosis (1,2). Also, high protein doesn’t seem to be associated with kidney stones and kidney diseases in otherwise healthy people (3,4).
Two of the main factors for kidney disease are high blood pressure and diabetes. Eating high protein helps in improving both of these conditions. (5).
2. You should get 50-60% of your calories from carbohydrates
A general belief is that people’s diet should consist of 50-60% carbohydrates. Most of those calories would come from grains and sugars. While this type of diet may work well for the naturally lean and skinny people as well as endurance athletes like marathoners, cyclists and swimmers, it is very likely that it would not work for regular Joe and obese people.
In fact for obese people or people with diabetes, this amount of carbs on a daily level is downright dangerous.
Studies show that high protein and fat diets are a far better solution when it comes to weight loss, insulin resistance and blood sugar control.
3. Low-Fat Foods Are Good For You
Extract the fats from a certain food – you have also taken out its taste. Yes, food without fat doesn’t have any taste. To compensate for the lack of fats, food manufacturers add things like sugar, corn syrup or artificial sweeteners like aspartame. You probably know that consuming higher quantities of sugar is unhealthy, but what you didn’t know is that artificial sweeteners are even more hazardous to your health.
Sweeteners like aspartame are known to be connected to health issues like: headaches, depression, cancers, metabolic syndrome, diabetes etc. Artificial sweeteners also tend to increase hunger. This means you should avoid artificial sweeteners at all costs.
4. Eating Fat Will Make You Fat
The mainstream belief is that eating fat makes you fat, because of the simple fact that fat has more than double the calories that protein or carbs have (9 calories per gram).
This is just not true! In fact, diets that are high in fat and protein, but low in carbohydrates cause much greater fat loss than diets that are low in fat.
Even though fat has more calories than carbs, a modest amount of fat may help you feel fuller with smaller quantities of food. Fat also helps with the absorption of certain vitamins and phytonutrients, as well as the production of vital hormones in the body.
5. Grains are the ultimate health food
One myth is that grains are health food and “whole grain foods” are advertized as ultimate health foods. Grains are fairly low in nutrients compared to other real foods like vegetables. They are also rich in a substance called phytic acid, which is indigestible by most mammals, including humans. Phytic acid also prevents important minerals from being absorbed. (6).
Another problem with grains is that they have high content of the protein called gluten. Why is gluten bad for you? Mostly because a large part of the humans are sensitive to it. Gluten can cause all kinds of problems in your digestive system, it can cause bloating, diarrhea, lack of energy etc.
A good practice is to switch a large portion of your grain foods with vegetables that are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.
6. Eggs can cause high cholesterol and heart disease
Up until a couple of years ago, eggs and especially egg yolks were presented as your heart’s worse enemy because of the high cholesterol content. Some recent studies have proved that the cholesterol you eat doesn’t have a big impact on the cholesterol in blood. On the other hand, eggs mainly raise the “good” cholesterol (or HDL if you will) (7).
Eggs are a great source of proteins, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that can actually help in protecting your heart and cardiovascular system.
7. Eat 5-6 small meals a day to speed up metabolism and lose fat
Of all the previous myths, this one is most widely spread in fitness and bodybuilding circles. Eating 5, 6 or even 7 meals a day is not uncommon amongst weightlifting athletes. The statement that eating increases your metabolic rate is not false, but it’s the total amount of calories that determines the energy used to digest the food, and not the number of meals, as many believe.
There is no difference in energy expenditure between those who eat many meals throughout the day and those who eat 2-3 larger meals. This has been confirmed by many controlled studies (8). In fact, eating many meals throughout the day can lead to food cravings and feeling of hunger. It is not natural for the human body to be constantly full and overfed. You may not believe it, but it’s healthier to be hungry from time to time.
During periods of fasting there is a process called autophagocytosis taking place in our bodies. It involves cell degradation of unnecessary or dysfunctional cellular components, which ensures cellular survival during starvation by maintaining cellular energy levels. You can think of it as cleaning waste products from your body.
And when it comes to weight loss, protocols like intermittent fasting will bring you better results than the “6 meals a day” method.
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