Let’s face it: we’ve all been misled by nutritional advice at some point in our lives. Information is everywhere regarding dieting, and it’s often conflicting. It can be hard to cut through the noise and determine which food myths are worth ignoring and which ones you should take seriously. Let’s do some nutritional myth-busting and separate fact from fiction.
Once you start reading up on nutrition, you discover that most commonly-held beliefs about healthy eating are not that straightforward. Plus, many of the things you ‘know’ about food can be false. Others are oversimplified generalizations that don’t apply to everyone. It can be challenging to separate truth from fiction when it comes to what to eat each day. After all, ‘healthy eating’ advice has changed as researchers have learned more about our bodies’ health and performance and the chemistry of food.
Stay Away From Fat ➡️ Nah
For a long time, dietary fat was considered the enemy. We were warned about the ‘heart-unhealthy’ effects of saturated fat. We were advised to stay away from high-fat foods to protect our health. This was the result of decades of misinterpreted research studies on fat. We now understand that not all fats are created equal and that there are ‘good fats’ that our bodies need to function correctly.
There are several benefits of healthy fats, while there are still other fats you should limit or avoid entirely. For instance, hydrogenated fats and vegetable oils are a no-no since they are ultra processed. Their regular consumption harms your health and contributes to chronic disease. Of course, it would be a disaster to avoid fats entirely. Just stick to healthy fats such as organic coconut oil, avocados, wild caught fish oil, and olive oil.
Eat a Big Breakfast ➡️ Nope
Another nutritional myth that it’s not based in fact but fiction is the need for a big breakfast. Many people start their day with a hearty breakfast, believing it will give them the energy and concentration they need to start their day off right. While a balanced breakfast is undoubtedly a good idea, taking the ‘eat a big breakfast’ advice too seriously can cause some problems.
For example, consuming a large meal in the morning can be followed by a lull in your energy levels during the day. It can cause your blood sugar levels to drop and over engage your digestive system. Consequently, you are fatigued and lethargic. This is especially true if you eat many sugary, carb-heavy foods for breakfast.
Athletic? Carb Load! ➡️ Not Exactly
You’ve probably heard athletes talk about carb-loading before a big event or competition. This is a diet strategy. Many athletes fuel their bodies with the right macro and micronutrients they need for optimal performance. While carb-loading is a common strategy for athletes, it’s important to point out that it isn’t something that applies to everyone or for every sport.
Your unique nutritional needs — such as your health, fitness goals, metabolism, as well as the athletic event of choice — determines whether carb-loading is a good choice for you. If you’re an athlete, you’ll need to get the right amount of carbs for your individual needs. Too many carbs, the wrong type of carb, or wrong meal timing can cause issues like bloating and discomfort.
Stick to Dark Leafy Greens ➡️ Yes and No
The common assumption that many people make when trying to get their daily intake of veggies is to stick to dark leafy greens. Spinach, kale, arugula, and collard greens are certainly healthy. However, other veggies offer additional antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins, minerals, and sulfur-containing compounds not found in leafy greens.
Many other veggies are just as nutritious, if not more so than dark leafy greens. For example, sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets also have high levels of vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health. In addition, many other highly nutritious veggies include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, garlic, peppers, cauliflower, and other colorful vegetables.
Cereal is Healthy ➡️ Don’t Think So
Another nutritional myth is that cereal is a healthy meal. Cereal has long been a go-to breakfast item for many people. Cereal marketing practices have led people to believe that it’s the ideal breakfast to get more fiber into their diets. But the nutritional profile of traditional cereals is not good. They are made with cheap GMO ingredients, low quality grains, white flour, empty carbs, and tons of sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Fortunately, you can find healthier options nowadays. First and foremost, you should choose organic cereals since they have cleaner ingredients. They are also made with whole grains (millet, oats, barley, quinoa), not just white flour. These options contain more optimal sources of fiber. Yet, an amazing alternative to cereal is oatmeal, which is high in fiber too.
Eggs, especially Yolks, are Bad ➡️ Not at All
For a long time, it was believed that eggs should be avoided by people trying to improve their health. This is because they were operating under the belief that eggs are high in cholesterol. They were considered to be bad for you by health experts. However, the truth as we know it today is that not all dietary cholesterol is bad as experts once thought. In fact, it’s actually essential for our hormones, membranes, brain, and our bodies, overall, in order to function correctly.
The amount of cholesterol in your diet and the amount of cholesterol in your blood are not the same thing. If you think that eating cholesterol would raise blood cholesterol levels, it’s usually not the case. Your body regulates the cholesterol in the blood by controlling its production. When your dietary intake of cholesterol goes down, your body produces more. And when you eat greater amounts, your body produces less. So foods high in dietary cholesterol have little impact on blood cholesterol levels.
However, about 40% of the population are “hyperresponders.” They are more sensitive to dietary cholesterol and high-cholesterol foods affect their blood cholesterol levels. Even if you are in this category, you can still eat a yolk a day without being afraid.
There is a lot of misinformation out there about what you should and shouldn’t be eating. Unfortunately, it’s hard to know what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to healthy eating. However, the good news is that this article breaks down the biggest nutritional myths that are not based in fact but fiction. Now, you some real truths about healthy eating.
To a Healthier Fitter You,
The Fitness Wellness Mentor