With so much information floating on the web, it’s easy to get confused between fact and fiction when it comes to nutrition. It doesn’t help that new studies are constantly emerging and recommendations quickly change, making it even more confusing to understand what’s healthy. Sometimes, information has been circulating for so long, it is just accepted to be true, even when it isn’t.
“When it comes to nutrition, we imagine that the new or most accurate information will make us skinny, strong, healthy, etc., so we are susceptible to whatever we hear from anyone who acts like an authority or looks the way we want to look,” says Jessica Setnick, MS, RD, CEDRD. “But nutrition as a science is a complicated mix of biology, chemistry and psychology, and most of us don’t have the education to discern what is accurate from what is speculation or wishful thinking or just someone’s uneducated opinion.”
To help you discriminate between all this conflicting information, I’ve consulted with two nutritionists to help bust the most common nutrition myths that aren’t true.
1. Fat Is The Enemy
“This is just a semantics problem,” says Setnick. “If we called food fat ‘triglycerides’ and body fat ‘adipose tissue,’ we wouldn’t have this confusion. It’s a sad misunderstanding of how your body uses food.” In fact, studies show that eating unsaturated fats — found in foods such as nuts and olive oil — can actually help you burn fat and lose weight.
2. You Can’t Eat At Night
“It doesn’t matter what time of day you eat,” says Ashvini Mashru, MA, RD, LDN. “It is what and how much you eat and how much physical activity you do during the whole day that determines whether you gain, lose, or maintain your weight. No matter when you eat, your body will store extra calories as fat.”
3. Gluten Free Helps You Lose Weight
“Unless you suffer from celiac disease, there’s not much scientific support to back the claim that eating gluten-free is healthier or a smart strategy for weight loss,” says Mashru. “Cutting gluten out of your diet most often leads to a reduction in overall calories, simply due to the sheer amount of grain based foods that we eat on a regular basis.”
4. Paleo Is Healthy
In terms of health and efficacy, many health reports rank Paleo last on the list. “Our ancestors mostly died young,” says Setnick. “We have no evidence of how their eating would have affected them had they had a longer life span like we do now.”
5. You Shouldn’t Eat Carbs
“Eating extra calories and not burning it off adds on the pounds, not carbs,” says Mashru. “Your body absolutely needs carbs to thrive. But just like fats, there are good and bad carbs.” Complex carbohydrates found in green vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are the kinds you want to include in your diet, as they contain fiber and many vitamins and minerals, making them a great source of long-lasting energy.
6. Skipping Meals Makes You Skinny
“Studies show that people who skip breakfast and eat fewer times during the day tend to be heavier than people who eat a healthy breakfast and eat four or five times a day,” says Mashru. “This may be because people who skip meals tend to feel hungrier later on, and eat more than they normally would. It may also be that eating many small meals throughout the day helps people control their appetites.”
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