When it comes to nutrition, there is a lot of confusion and misinformation out there. You may have heard or read many things about what you should or shouldn’t eat, but how do you know what is true and what is not? Here are 10 nutrition myths that are widely believed but completely false.
Myth 1: Healthy eating is too costly
Many people think that eating healthy means spending a fortune on organic, gluten-free or exotic foods. However, this is not the case. You can eat healthy without breaking the bank by following some simple tips:
- Plan your meals and snacks based on what’s on sale and in season.
- Make a shopping list and stick to it. Avoid buying things you don’t need or want.
- Buy staples like whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and canned or frozen fruits and vegetables when they are cheap. They are nutritious and can be used in many dishes.
- Cook more at home and use leftovers for another meal or snack.
- Compare prices and look for deals or coupons.
Myth 2: Everyone should go gluten-free
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Some people have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, which means they have a negative reaction to gluten and need to avoid it for their health. However, for most people, gluten is not harmful and does not need to be avoided. In fact, whole grains that contain gluten are good sources of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Gluten-free products are often more expensive, less nutritious and higher in calories, sugar or fat than their regular counterparts. Unless you have a medical reason to go gluten-free, there is no benefit to doing so.
Myth 3: Carbs are bad for you
Carbohydrates are one of the three main nutrients that provide energy for your body. They are found in foods like grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, dairy and sweets. Carbs are not bad for you; what matters is the type, quality and amount of carbs you eat. Refined carbs like white bread, white rice, pasta, pastries and sugary drinks are low in fiber and nutrients and high in calories. They can cause your blood sugar to spike and make you hungry again soon after eating. On the other hand, complex carbs like whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes are high in fiber and nutrients and lower in calories. They can help you feel full longer and regulate your blood sugar. The key is to choose mostly complex carbs and limit your intake of refined carbs.
Myth 4: Full-fat products make you gain weight
Fat is another main nutrient that provides energy for your body. It also has many other functions like protecting your organs, maintaining your cell membranes, absorbing fat-soluble vitamins and producing hormones. Fat is not your enemy; it is an essential part of a balanced diet. However, not all fats are the same. Saturated fats and trans fats are unhealthy fats that can raise your cholesterol levels and increase your risk of heart disease. They are found in foods like fatty meats, butter, cheese, cream, baked goods and fried foods. Unsaturated fats are healthy fats that can lower your cholesterol levels and protect your heart. They are found in foods like olive oil, canola oil, nuts, seeds, avocados and fatty fish. The key is to choose mostly unsaturated fats and limit your intake of saturated fats and trans fats.
Myth 5: You need to detox your body with special diets or products
Detox diets or products claim to cleanse your body of toxins and impurities by restricting certain foods or drinks or using supplements or laxatives. However, there is no scientific evidence that these methods work or that they are necessary or safe. Your body has its own natural detox system that consists of organs like your liver, kidneys, lungs and skin. They work together to filter out harmful substances from your blood and eliminate them through urine, sweat or breath. The best way to support your body’s detox system is to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of water, fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and antioxidants-rich foods like berries, citrus fruits and green tea. You should also avoid smoking, excessive alcohol and drugs that can damage your organs and impair their function.
Myth 6: You need to drink eight glasses of water a day
Water is vital for life and plays many roles in your body such as regulating your temperature, lubricating your joints, transporting nutrients and waste, and maintaining your blood pressure and volume. However, there is no universal rule for how much water you need to drink a day. Your water needs depend on many factors such as your age, weight, activity level, climate and health status. The best way to stay hydrated is to drink water when you are thirsty and monitor the color of your urine. It should be pale yellow or clear. You can also get water from other sources such as fruits, vegetables, milk, juice, tea and coffee. However, you should limit your intake of sugary drinks like soda, sports drinks and energy drinks as they can add extra calories and harm your teeth.
Myth 7: You need to eat protein right after a workout
Protein is another main nutrient that provides energy for your body. It also helps build and repair your muscles, skin, hair, nails and other tissues. Protein is especially important for people who exercise regularly as it helps them recover from their workouts and prevent muscle loss. However, you do not need to eat protein immediately after a workout to reap these benefits. As long as you eat enough protein throughout the day from various sources like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, soy, beans, nuts and seeds, you will meet your protein needs and support your muscle growth and recovery. The recommended amount of protein for adults is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day. This may vary depending on your age, gender, activity level and goals.
Myth 8: You need to avoid salt at all costs
Salt is made up of sodium and chloride, two minerals that are essential for your body. They help maintain your fluid balance, nerve transmission and muscle contraction. However, too much salt can have negative effects on your health such as raising your blood pressure, increasing your risk of stroke, heart disease and kidney disease. The main source of salt in most people’s diets is not the salt shaker but the processed foods they eat. These include breads, cereals, snacks, sauces, dressings, canned foods, frozen meals, and fast foods.
Myth 9: You need to eat every few hours to boost your metabolism
Metabolism is the process by which your body converts food into energy. It depends on many factors such as your age, weight, height, gender, genetics, hormones, activity level, and muscle mass. Some people believe that eating more frequently (five or six times a day) can increase their metabolism and help them burn more calories. However, there is no conclusive evidence that this is true. What matters more for your metabolism is the total amount and quality of food you eat throughout the day. Eating more frequently may have some benefits for some people such as preventing hunger pangs, controlling blood sugar levels or meeting higher calorie needs but it may also have some drawbacks such as overeating, digestive issues or inconvenience. The best eating pattern for you is the one that suits your lifestyle, preferences and health goals
Myth 10: You need to follow a specific diet to lose weight
There are many diets out there that claim to be the best for weight loss such as Low-carb, Low-fat, Keto, Paleo, Vegan, Intermittent fasting, or Mediterranean. However, there is no one-size-fits-all diet that works for everyone weight loss occurs when you create a calorie deficit by burning more energy than you take in. This can be achieved by any diet that reduces your calorie intake while providing adequate nutrition. The best diet for weight loss is the one that you can stick to long-term, that meets your nutritional needs, satisfies your hunger, suits your preferences, fits your budget, and supports your health.