Read times: 10-minute read

This post is dedicated to 10 nutritional myths, and of course I will deliver the facts around each, to ease your mind so you can get to making progress for the long term. 

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There are MANY myths in the nutritional world, some are as old as ever but others have popped up only recently. What I will cover includes;

  • Carbs are bad for you
  • Fruit makes you fat because of the sugar
  • You need to eat perfectly for good health 
  • The food pyramid is the best way to eat for optimal health
  • Fat burning foods exist 
  • There are ‘calorie free’ foods
  • Everyone should eat in moderation 
  • Multiple meals per day will speed up the metabolism
  • Animal protein is inflammatory 
  • Eat 1200 calories per day

Before we get into it, I want you to know this one thing – big food companies have staff dedicated to creating confusion around food through facebook posts and Question, false news stories and botched ‘scientific’ studies. Confusion keeps people hooked and there is much profit to be made in a population that is addicted to food.

If you had clarity, you would know that healthy eating matters, adn if you knew that, you would feel good, and you would stop eating their food.

With that out of the way, let’s get into the myths and I will clear this all up for you!

Myth 1: Carbs are the enemy 

False, false, false. Although we can survive without carbs, it’s very hard to thrive without them. Especially if you’re physically active.

There are two essential nutrients in life – protein and fat. This is an undisputed scientific fact. Carbs aren’t essential, but they are required if you are physically active as your body’s number one energy source.

Women lose weight every day and build muscle and play sports competitively because of carbs. There is some debate that marathon runners do better on high fat diets, but I can assume you’re not a marathon runner here. Marathon runners also lose their muscle mass, which is essential to long term health so there is no reason to follow their logic regardless.

We also need carbs for a healthy menstrual cycle, which you will notice right before you bleed when you’re ravenous and wanting to smash every carb in sight. This is a sign you’re either not giving your body what it needs at that time, or not giving it enough quality food at that time.

A time where a carb might be considered ‘bad’ is in obesity, type 2 diabetes or when you are pre-diabetic. EVEN THEN, a diet in lower glycemic carbs would still work. It comes down to preference.

Removing carbs to regulate blood sugar is never a bad idea, but at some stage they need to be brought back in, preferably before the body screams so loud that you eat more carbs than you’ve ever eaten in your life causing more problems than you had in the first place. I generally recommend 8 weeks as a maximum time period you should go without carbs, if you are overweight.

So eat carbs, enjoy carbs, but eat them from sources such as organic rice, sourdough if bread is your thing, fruits, potatoes and oats.  If you’re healthy, throw in some sugary treats occasionally.

Myth 2: The sugar in Fruit makes you fat 

Fruit made its way to the bad list and although it is a carb, I have given it its own point. Fruit is not bad for you, and fruit will not make you fat. I would not be surprised if it was a massive junk food company that started this rumor, as they are the only ones who would gain from such misinformation.

If you are overweight, or diabetic, then sure you probably shouldn’t eat 5 pieces of fruit/day, and it is optimal to choose fruits that are higher in nutritional value and fibre, such as berries, pears and apples.

But, you can eat fruit and still be healthy, and it is MUCH MORE healthy than eating a packet of lolly snakes or a donut because those foods have zero nutritional value and will hardly register in the body as ‘food’.

But, what about the fructose!? Isn’t that what makes you fat?

All refined sugar products break down into fructose in your body to some degree, so if you’re worried about the sugar in fruit, you should be worried about ALL sugar products.

My point here is, worrying about fruit yet consuming mars bars and soft drinks is misguided and will be detrimental to your health long term. Eat the fruit, start pushing out the junk. 

Myth 3: Eat from the food pyramid

No, you should base your optimal health on the food pyramid. The Australian one is not too bad, but I would certainly prioritize meats and animal proteins over grain products.

In a time where the government makes suggestions around food and lifestyle, yet people are sicker than ever, it’s perhaps time to think about it more critically. It is common knowledge that a diet high in refined foods is not a healthful one, yet we are still recommended to eat these things.

It is easier to feed a population with easy to grow crops and foods that can be diversified into many food like products, for example a corn crop is made into about 140 food ingredients, so it’s quite diverse in its ability to feed a population. This is where the motivation comes from.

It would be better (if you can afford it, which is a whole other problem), if you can eat as close to mother nature as possible, so the more ingredients a product has on the label, the lower down your list it should go. 

Myth 4: You need to eat perfectly and organic in order to be healthy

You don’t need to eat organic, but for some foods it’s a great idea. Look up the dirty dozen and clean 15,  where you will find a list of foods which are recommended you eat organic. Fatty meats are great to be consumed organic, whereas in lean meats it isn’t as important.

As far as eating ‘perfectly’ goes, there is no point in creating this kind of pressure in yourself. You’re a highly programmable human being and junk food companies are hijacking your brain on the daily, and subconsciously, through magazines, TV, Hollywood movies and social media in ways you can’t even imagine. 

So, you can’t just reject all unhealthy food and eat perfectly. If you want to change, it is highly likely that it will take you quite some time to change your diet, but just know with every intentional healthy choice, you are getting closer to that goal of better nutrition, and better health.

Give yourself some grace and allow the process to unfold naturally.

Back to the organic part of this point, if you’re hung up on this one and thinking a standard chicken breast is not healthy because it’s not organic, but then buying a big-mac instead, this is worse. There is plenty of nutrition in a non-organic chicken breast, it’s called protein, and it’s essential for building every cell in your body.

Eat as healthily as you can afford, as often as you can, and you will be healthy! Bodies are resilient, more than you know.

Myth 5: You should eat ‘fat-burning’ foods

Sorry, but fat-burning foods don’t exist. Calorie-control and meeting nutritional needs is the only way to build a body that looks and feels good. This means fat burners, coffee, spicy foods and berries won’t make your metabolism speed up and body-fat to drop off. They can speed up your heart rate, or increase body heat which can assist in fat loss, but there are many other things that need to be in check for it to have an effect.

If fat burning is  your goal, then know that this occurs when your body has a low enough amount of food coming in from healthy sources, without it feeling unsafe. When this happens, in order to make up for the deficit in energy your body will tap into fat cells and use them for fuel instead.

So, the optimal ‘fat-burning’ foods for you are, the ones that are most nourishing and least stressful for your body overall. 

Myth 6: There are ‘calorie-free’ foods

Nooo there are not. Artificial sweeteners contain between 1-3 calories per gram (rather than 4 found in 1 gm of sugar), but there is some debate now that the body actually compensates for that lack of calories after consumption anyways.

Where this kind of point does hold validity, is in the ‘thermic effect of food’ (TEF).

Some foods take more energy in the body to break down once consumed, with protein, and particularly animal protein, being the primary example. Fibre is also highly unlikely to be stored as fat as it isn’t even used for energy, but more so to feed your good bacteria and push food through your digestive tract.

Carbs are second on the list, with fats last. So any fats you consume take much less energy in the body to break down, and are stored as body fat much more easily.

Now you may be able to see why a ‘bikini body’ diet is high in animal protein and fibrous veggies, moderate to low in carbs and very low in fat. It’s effective, but not something most people can stick to long term because it is either too low in energy (carbs and fats), or it’s just not a diet that fits in with your desired lifestyle.

So there are no fat burning or calorie free foods, but there are foods you can find in nature that would have a more positive effect on your appearance than others. 

Myth 7: Sugar free foods are better than sugar

Untrue. They’re much the same really, as sugar free foods have been shown to have an effect on blood sugar, but also your gut bacteria. The body often continues to have sugar cravings even after you have cut the sugar.

Additionally, artificial sweeteners can have a negative impact on your nervous system.

I think in the early stages of a lifestyle change, replacing sugary foods for sugar-free ones can be a good idea. It can help with a change in behaviour and attitude towards sugar, but the use of these products should be with the goal of also cutting those out, for a healthy whole food diet with natural sugars. 

Stevia and Natvia are sugar alternatives that have been (so far) shown to have no negative effects on the microbiome of blood sugar levels, so check those out if you’re looking for a sweet taste without the neurotoxic chemicals or blood sugar spikes. 

Myth 8: Everyone shouldeat in moderation’

Eating in moderation is totally abused, and leads us to have mostly a junk food diet with a sprinkle of health. Everyone I know who eats in moderation eats mostly processed foods.

If you were to eat healthy food every day of the week and have something small each day as a treat, or a night out each week, depending on how big that night out is, that would be ‘moderation’.

If you need to eat junk daily, this is moreso classified as an addiction, or you could call it an ‘unhealthy diet’. Easier to just name it as it is! If you said you call your friends ‘moderately’, I’m assuming you don’t mean you call multiple times per day, it’s more so classified as ‘frequent’.

I always recommended seeking out a diet which includes as many whole foods as possible, and one where meals are pre-planned.

Situations where it WOULD be crucial to completely forget about what you’re eating however include; 

  • If you are underweight or anorexic – in this case, you have bigger problems than your food choices, so you should eat more
  • If you tend to binge the second you put restrictions on yourself – as this will lead to more binges. Work on the underlying driver though. 

In these cases you have gone too far down the ‘heath’ road, and it would actually be better for you to learn some balance. I have been here and supported quite a few of my clients through this as well. 

Myth 9: Multiple meals per day will speed up your metabolism 

This is false, and studies have shown that your metabolism will remain the same whether you eat 6 meals per day, or just one.

In saying that, I believe it makes a difference for women to have a few meals per day to prevent blood sugar crashes, and increase the chance of adherence. Women’s bodies are most often more prone to stress, and when you spend many hours without a meal, it can heighten that stress, especially when your metabolism isn’t particularly healthy.

So if you’re stressed, or if feeling hungry makes you feel stressed, stick to more frequent meals. If you’re not stressed, eat however you like!

Myth 10: Animal protein is inflammatory 

I won’t go into this one too much, because it triggers so many that are leaning into the modern-day vegan agenda of today. I say ‘agenda’ because that’s what it is – big food companies and billionaire shareholders who see mass amounts of profit being made by making a shift from animal protein to plant ‘protein’.

Know that the body doesn’t get what it needs from plants, it needs animal protein. There are very few human beings that can thrive without the essential amino acids (building blocks for your entire body) found in poultry, red meat, seafood and eggs.

If you want to change your body composition, then this is an even bigger reason not to go vegan as it will make you insulin-resistant and you can’t build muscle past a certain point without animal protein. 

Myth 11: Eat 1200 calories a day for health

This one pisses me off, as I too was caught up in this for the first 10 years of my fitness journey, which started back in the late 90’s. Since the 70’s women were told to eat less if they want to be healthy and lean, but all this did is destroy a generation of metabolisms and set them up for permanent food fear and easy weight gain if they are so happy to ‘let it slip’.

The average 65kg woman should be eating around 2000-2400 calories per day for ultimate health and energy levels. 1200 calories is below what I would have someone on right before they step on stage, and this is when their metabolism and health is at the lowest point, and their body is being pushed harder than ever. I have had two clients on those calories but both weighed under 50kg and only followed those calories for a few short weeks.

Unless you’re taking steroids, it’s highly likely that a diet this low in calories will lead to a negative metabolic adaptation, muscle wastage, a downregulated thyroid, gut, sleep and energy issues. So ditch the 1200 calorie idea and start eating more as soon as you can.

There is a video version of this too, if you would like to learn more!

So those are my top nutritional myths, busted! Were there any that surprised you? Comment below if you like, I will always write back directly!

Jen x

 

 

 

 

 

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