With all of the information available to us at our fingertips today, you would think that nutrition myths would be less prevalent than they were during our grandparents' time.
The internet, unfortunately, is rife with false information, and it can be challenging to distinguish between what is evidence-based and what isn't without first reading the original research. In contrast to the earlier days, myths that were previously passed down by word of mouth are now spreading like wildfire through social media, blogs, and even traditional media. Unfortunately, we rarely question the information we get from various sources and treat it as a fact.
Nutrition is a critical component of living a healthy lifestyle, and it is something that we should all be well-informed about. However, as the food world has become increasingly cluttered with fads, trends, and piles of misinformation, it has become increasingly difficult to find reliable information on nutrition.
The internet and social media provide us with a plethora of health and nutrition information, which we consume daily. However, the problem with that much information is its inaccuracy.
So, let's dispel a few common nutrition myths so that you can feel more confident about your food choices in the future.
Myth #1: Fats Make You Fat!
Many people are afraid of consuming ghee and oils because they believe eating fat will make them fat. As a result, they adopt a low-fat diet. But various studies show that when fats are consumed in moderation, they are beneficial to one's health, and it doesn't contribute to obesity if your overall diet is clean. This is because you are consuming the appropriate amount of calories. Fats play a significant role in your and are responsible for various metabolic functions. Also, fats act as anti-inflammatory agents and are the only source of specific vitamins such as vitamin A (as well as vitamin D and E). As long as you are not overindulging, consuming fats will be beneficial to you!"
Myth #2: Carbs Make You Fat!
Again negative. To lose weight, follow the same principles as you did with fat and pay attention to the type of carbohydrate you consume rather than eliminating it. Carbohydrates available to us are generally of two kinds - refined and whole. The latter are the ones to choose because they are higher in fibre and contain a more significant amount of other essential vitamins and minerals. High-fibre foods will not cause you to gain weight, and in contrast, eating them regularly will keep you feeling full and, therefore, less likely to overeat.
We require carbohydrates to provide us with energy, and they should account for one-third of our total caloric intake. So instead of eliminating them, make some smart substitutions and reduce your intake of the unhealthier carbohydrates, such as highly refined flour products, refined sugars and many more.
Myth #3: Smaller Meals Boosts Your Metabolism and Helps in Weight Loss
Every time you eat, your metabolisms crank up a bit as your body processes the food you have consumed. By eating many mini-meals rather than a few large ones, we can shift our metabolism into high gear more frequently and burn a few more calories. While there is a slight caloric difference, the difference itself is so small that it doesn't make any significant difference. Therefore, eating six small meals a day doesn’t help you burn more fat and achieve your fat loss goals. Try to focus more on your overall calorie intake throughout the day rather than thinking about the number of meals you will have.
Myth #4: You Need Protein Immediately After Your Workout
When you work out, you break down your muscle tissues, which your body then has to repair, resulting in their growth. Protein is the building block for muscle repair, and yes, after working out, your muscles are more sensitive to the anabolic effects of protein. This creates a window of opportunity known as the "anabolic window."
But again, the difference is relatively insignificant. Even if you don't ingest any protein for a couple of hours after your workout, it won't make much difference. Your overall protein intake throughout the day decides how your muscles are going to recover and grow. So perhaps the phrase "you need protein right after your workout" isn't so much a myth as it is an exaggeration. For the best results, try having 1.6-2.2g of protein per kg of your bodyweight per day.
Myth #5: Calories In - Calories Out is All That Matters When It Comes to Weight Loss
When it comes to losing weight, creating a calorie deficit by burning more energy than you consume is the essential factor to consider. However, it is not the only one.
Simply focusing on calories does not consider the other variables that can prevent someone from losing weight, even when following a very low-calorie diet.
Weight loss can be difficult for some people, even when they follow a strict diet plan. Hormonal imbalances, health conditions such as hypothyroidism, metabolic adaptations, the use of certain medications, and genetics are just a few factors that can make weight loss more difficult for some people.
This concept also fails to emphasize the importance of long-term weight loss and high-quality diets for successful weight loss. When following the "calories in, calories out" method, people tend to focus solely on the calorie value of foods rather than the nutritional value of those foods.
The result may be that low-calorie, nutritionally deficient foods such as rice cakes and egg whites are preferred over higher-calorie, nutritionally dense foods such as avocados and whole eggs.
The Bottom Line
You've likely heard most of these five nutrition myths repeated at one time or another — by a friend, on a blog, or somewhere in the media. Unfortunately, misinformation is widespread and difficult to distinguish, and it spreads much faster than facts.
And this is only the tip of the iceberg; there are hundreds of prevalent myths these days. Even though these nutrition myths are likely to persist, educating yourself and distinguishing between fact and fiction can help you feel more empowered to develop a nutritious and sustainable diet pattern that is tailored to your specific needs and preferences.
Liu, A. G., Ford, N. A., Hu, F. B., Zelman, K. M., Mozaffarian, D., & Kris-Etherton, P. M. (2017). A healthy approach to dietary fats: understanding the science and taking action to reduce consumer confusion. Nutrition Journal, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12937-017-0271-4
Mullin, G. E., & Cheskin, L. J. (2010). Article Commentary: Carbohydrate Intake and Overweight and Obesity Among Healthy Adults Carbohydrate Intake and Overweight and Obesity Among Healthy AdultsMerchantATVatanparastHBarlasSJ Am Diet Assoc. 2009;7:1165–72. Nutrition in Clinical Practice, 25(6), 680–681. https://doi.org/10.1177/0884533610379858
Aragon, A. A., & Schoenfeld, B. J. (2013). Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window? Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-10-5