All about Nutrition Myths
- Various misleading information about nutrition currently exists today.
- Some common myths include the idea that calories in and calories out is the only thing that matters and that macro counting is superior.
- People also have misconceptions about high-fat diets and carbs for weight loss.
- We recommend obtaining your nutrition information from reliable resources.
Scrolling through social media, watching our favorite TV show, or listening to our aunt’s opinion on diets can all expose us to endless information on nutrition. Unfortunately, most of this accessible data is incorrect. In fact, even qualified health professionals, including doctors, holistic practitioners, and dietitians, may sometimes spread false information. This includes statements and misconceptions on how to practice healthy eating and live your healthiest life.
Because of the number of nutrition-related myths out there, it’s important to be sure about the sources of our information. We must also be careful about what we actually believe in and what we practice in our everyday routine. We will discuss some of the most common nutrition myths in this article.
1. Calories in and calories out are the only things that matter.
This myth states that balancing the calories you take in and the calories you expend is the key to weight maintenance. However, relying solely on calorie intake does not account for a wide variety of variables that can impact our weight and overall health. For example, there are many other influences that might control our body weight. These include hormonal imbalances, health conditions like hypothyroidism, and medications that can make weight loss harder for some individuals.
This concept also doesn’t take into consideration genetic factors. Genetics can predispose someone to a certain weight or the weight that we are meant to be at. This is called set-point weight, which is controlled by different mechanisms in your body.
Most importantly, this myth does not consider the quality of food taken in. In fact, some may use it as an excuse to choose low-calorie and nutrient-poor foods over healthy ones. This takes the focus away from diet quality and proper nourishment of our body.
Think of it this way: not all calories are created equal. Research shows that the quality of the calories that we eat influences our weight and our health for the long term. Therefore, we should focus on eating the same amount of calories from nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and nuts. We must also stay away from nutrient-poor foods like cookies, cake, ice cream, and other junk food items.
2. High-fat foods are unhealthy.
Many people fear high-fat foods due to the popular myth against them. In fact, most of us may follow low-fat diets in the hopes of losing weight or benefiting our heart health. There is an existing misconception that cutting our fat intake will reduce the amount of fat stored in our bodies.
On the contrary, taking in dietary fat is essential for many reasons. Fat is the most efficient way to store energy. It insulates and protects our body, as well as provides us with essential fatty acids. A low-fat diet has also been linked to a greater risk of health concerns like insulin resistance, showing how this myth can be dangerous to follow.
While avoiding fat entirely is not recommended, it is important to prioritize the healthier fats over the unhealthy ones. Trans fats and saturated fats, for example, are considered bad. Overconsumption of them can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. These fats are typically found in junk food, meat products, or dairy.
Meanwhile, unsaturated fats, or healthy fats, are good for you as they can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. They can even help reduce inflammation and build stronger cell membranes in the body. There are also many sources of good fats, all of which can help lower cholesterol and help to decrease the risk of heart disease. Good fats include olive oil, avocado, and nuts.
3. Macronutrient ratio matters more than diet quality.
Many health coaches may lead you to believe that maintaining the ratio of macros is the best way to reach your health and fitness goals. This method, also known as “macro counting,” focuses on tracking the amount of macros (protein, fat, carbohydrates) that you eat per day. Similar to the “caloric intake’ myth, it takes a narrow-minded approach to food and leaves out the quality of the foods that you eat.
While making some minor changes in your macros may have some positive health benefits, research shows that diet quality, and therefore the quality of the food that we eat makes a bigger impact. Focusing on foods that nourish our body like fruits (dates, berries, or oranges,) or vegetables can help us to decrease the risk of certain diseases and increase lifespan.
Macro counting can also have a negative impact on one’s mental health, as it can increase stress and anxiety. Since it requires tracking the portions of the food that you eat constantly, you’re more likely to feel stressed while trying to follow it.
An increase in stress and anxiety can result in emotional or stress eating, leading to even more guilt due to the additional food eaten. Even if you eat well with macro counting, the increase in stress leads to an increase in the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone can increase the risk of certain diseases and therefore has a negative impact on long-term health.
4. Carbohydrates make you gain weight.
Carbohydrate (carbs) consumption will make you gain weight. At least, this is what diet culture, including but not limited to social media trends and fad diets, has led some to believe. Just like the myth about high-fat foods, carbs are also largely misrepresented. People feel nervous that in excess, carbs are stored as fat.
However, gaining weight is simply the result of eating too many low-nutrient calories, not specifically carbs. Excess carbs being stored as fat is a normal bodily process. Additionally, our body is a working machine that understands how to regulate itself.
We need carbs for many reasons. Carbs are the primary energy source for the body. Without them, our bodies would not function properly. We would not have enough energy to perform daily functions, leading us to feel lethargic throughout the day. More importantly, carbs fuel our brain, kidneys, heart muscles, and much more.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends consuming at least 150 grams of carbs per day for adults. This equates to about 10 carb servings per day, at 15 grams per serving. Make sure to focus on choices like whole grains or complex carbs, low-fat dairy products, and vegetables and fruits. One date, for example, can give you as much as 18 grams of carbs!
Myths surrounding carbs, macro counting, high-fat diets, and calories are just some of the false claims regarding nutrition. Therefore, it is to make sure that you do your research before you follow any diet and nutrition advice. We recommend getting your nutrition information from a reliable resource. Healthy eating can be overwhelming and confusing, so we hope this article takes away some of that confusion.
There is a lot of false and misleading information about nutrition and healthy eating.. We debunked a few of the common myths in this article so you can feel more confident in your eating choices. This will also make you less confused about what to eat for your body. We discussed the myths regarding calorie counting, high-fat foods, and carbohydrates, as well as macro counting.
- Calorie: refers to how much energy our food provides our body.
- Macronutrient: refers to the nutrients needed in the largest amounts in your diet. This refers to carbohydrates, fats, and protein.