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Busting nutrition myths
Food

7 nutrition myths debunked

When it comes to nutrition, there’s a lot of misinformation to be found. It can be hard to know what to believe and what to dismiss, which is why we’re hear to smash 7 common nutrition myths

Eat little and often

Anyone who’s tried to lose weight has been told not to skip a meal. But, what if eating ‘a little, and often’ isn’t a rule we have to follow?

Well, good news. It’s not! In fact, it’s not a hard and fast rule for losing weight or a functioning metabolism. Why?

Well, because eating more frequently may sound like sage advice in our pursuit of better health and weight loss, but evidence to support this deeply engrained dogma is lacking.

A group of researchers tested the idea of eating a little and often. One group of individuals was assigned two meals per day while a second was assigned seven. Both groups meals were matched for total energy.

Guess what happened? There was no increase in metabolic rate or the amount of energy used between the groups. More frequent meals didn’t contribute to improved weight loss or a faster metabolism.

You’re now free to choose your own eating pattern to suit your preference and schedule. You don’t have to be tied to message that lacks substance!

Avoid starvation mode

Starvation mode is that dreaded zone where our bodies refuse to relinquish our unwanted weight and body fat.

Wait? What?

We’ve long been told that if we skip a meal (particularly breakfast), we set our bodies up for disaster because of starvation mode.

Well, would you believe that this is unequivocally, not a real thing.

In fact, one particular group of smart science people decided that enough was enough and put starvation mode to the test. They did this by testing the unwritten rule of never skipping breakfast.

The Bath Breakfast Study set out to prove once and for all that starvation mode wasn’t real. They did just that by examining any changes in metabolism in subjects who skipped breakfast versus those who ate breakfast.

Betts and company found that the breakfast eaters didn’t have a metabolic advantage from eating breakfast and the breakfast skippers didn’t enter the black hole known as starvation mode. This was seen across all participants.

This is great news for those who fear the worst when they can’t fit in a breakfast in the morning or have never found themselves to be breakfast people!

Don’t eat dairy

Ethical issues aside, which is a topic for another conversation entirely, milk has come under a lot of scrutiny in the last year or two.

People calling it one thing or another and even saying as that as humans, we are not designed to drink it.

Hmmmm…

While there exists such a thing as lactose intolerance (again a separate issue), would you believe that there is such a thing known as the lactase enzyme – a little helper for digesting lactose, the principle sugar molecule found in milk. And a considerable amount of earth’s population have that enzyme. It would also appear that we have had it for a long time.

In fact, we possess this little guy from birth to help us put our mother’s milk to good use. As we get older, it’s overall gene expression does lessen but it never quite fully leaves us.

What some people do notice is that drinking larger volumes of milk causes discomfort. This is a common issue not to be confused with a design flaw in milk digestion. When we decide to cut milk and dairy products out of diet, the lactase enzyme is no longer needed as much and becomes a little less involved in the digestive process. When we reintroduce lactose containing foods, we might encounter issues because the lactase enzyme is not back up to speed – this is not proof of humans not being designed to consume milk.

Now from an overall health perspective there’s a whole lot of overall nutrition in milk. It is going to be very important to replace what you’re not getting if you choose to limit if from an ethical standpoint. Just be sure that you’re not limiting it on the basis of hearsay.

Slow and steady wins the race

We are told that you should never lose weight quickly. The consequences of if we do is that we will pile the pounds back on again in not time.

But, what if it was possible to lose weight quickly and not put it back on.

Research has shown that this is both possible and effective. In all three cases, a faster rate of weight loss did not lead to the weight piling back on quicker. The weight that was lost was maintained for a longer period of time.

Faster rates of weight loss in dieting are possible, but there are draws backs. There’s greater potential for hunger. This can’t be understated. What should also be mentioned is that this may not be a suitable idea for someone with a long history of poor relationship with food.

Losing weight quickly is possible and effective. Because it is done for a relatively short timeframe it can be viewed as safe. However, it might not be for everyone as it’s just not enjoyable.

What can be done to safeguard the process and make it more successful is to have a solid weight maintenance strategy upon finishing the diet (and this is the subject on an entire post in itself).

No carbs after 7pm

Carbohydrates have drawn the ire of health care practitioners, bloggers and the general masses in the last few years. Of particular concern is eating them past a certain time in the day.

While the prospect of ‘were-bohydrates’ might be an attractive option for the West’s growing waistlines, unfortunately it doesn’t hold up to the scrutiny of the evidence.

What do I mean? Let’s take a quick look…

Some smart science folk wanted to test the truth of ‘were-bohydrates’ by having a group of subjects consume all of the carbohydrates at dinner time and comparing their overall health status to those who ate them in a more traditional spread out manner.

What they found was surprising. The ‘carbs at dinner only’ group lost significantly more weight. They also lost more inches around the waist and had better blood sugar regulation.

This tells us two things: Firstly, carbohydrates are not inherently fattening or disease causing. Secondly, eating them in the evening (even all of them) will not have a negative impact on your weight loss targets or health.

If you like them at night, have them as long as they fit in with your overall energy goals and needs.

Take inspiration from someone else

There’s lots of diet advice from celebrities available online, but the question is: Will the suggested dietary approaches work for you?

While a lot of these diets will extol the magical properties of their particular diet, this is a mistaken approach. Where diets like the aforementioned fail is in their over reliance on the method and not on the principle.

All diets and dietary approaches can work as long as they are based on the principle of creating a calorie deficit. Whether focusing on the actual tracking of calories is a conscious or unconscious action, is down to the approach taken.

Make no mistake, a successful diet to improve weight loss and health must involve two things:

  • The adherence factor – you must be able to do the diet and make it part of your life for the length of time you need to
  • A calorie deficit, whether you believe in calories counting or not.

Red meat is bad for you

I’m totally pro-vegetable.

In fact, I’m 100% behind people switching to a more plant-centric diet. There’s plenty of research indicating a lot of the greens should make up the bulk of our diet.

But does that mean that meat, especially red meat, has no place in our diets? There’s a lot of finger pointing going on as of late in relation to red meat and heart disease.

My question is: can we separate evidence from conjecture?

We must be careful in not falling for the old enemy known as correlation. Observational studies often link red meat intake and heart disease; however, no causative claims can be determined. These observations cannot indicate causation, and usually do not.

So here’s what we know:

All the available research on eating more than 0.5 servings of red meat per day shows no increase in risk factors for heart disease.

What tends to happen in a lot of the research is that processed meats get lumped into the red meat category. What is generally understood is that processed meats are more likely an agent for heart disease risk when consumed excessively.

With all this in mind, we can see that red meat alone is not a major factor in heart disease risk and can be safe to consume within the totality of a diet.

 

Rabin Das is an MNU Certified Nutritionist and holds an MSc in nutrition and metabolism. Passionate about all things nutrition related, he hopes to make a difference with the spread of honest, trustworthy and actionable nutrition information. Check him out on Instagram or at dasnutritionconsultancy.com

Tags : nutrition