Look, we’ve all fell into fad diets and the latest trends when it comes to nutrition. Hell, even I have believed some of these nutrition myths (for a lot longer than I’d like to admit too). Some of these things have become so engrained in the minds of people looking to diet that they have been accepted as truths. However, they aren’t! Wrap your mind around what I’m about to lay down and learn about the simplicity of dieting and nutrition!
1 – Counting calories isn’t the best way to manage body composition
We all know somebody who wants to lose some weight but refuses to track calories. Instead, they try and limit portion sizes, judge by fullness, cut out food groups, etc. to try and meet their goals. While this can work, it is not because tracking calories isn’t the best way to manage body composition. Sometimes this works because of their eating habits happened to line up with a proper caloric intake. The reality is that all of these tricks are just ways to manipulate your daily calorie intake.
For the most part, these tricks fizzle out and won’t get you to your end goals. I’ve had countless clients complain when their body doesn’t change like they think it should because they cut out things like gluten, wheat, carbs, fast food, soda, or whatever else they think negatively affects body composition. Every single time I have to tell them, it’s calories in vs calories out! That is the only way body composition is modified in a large way. Some will argue about hormone levels and how they can affect body composition. Yes, but not as effective as simple calorie tracking. Download MyFitnessPal and stop bitching that you aren’t seeing results.
2 – Eating healthy is required when looking to lose weight
I mentioned this a little in the last myth. Some people think that eating healthy is the one thing they need to do to lose weight. Dammit, you have no idea how much this bugs me! Countless experiments have been done by hundreds of people that eat “junk” food but manage their calories and meet their goals. And there are literally hundreds of thousands who try to lose weight just by eating healthy and ignoring calorie intake.
Eating healthy does not automatically equal weight loss. Sorry! Eating clean doesn’t even guarantee better health than somebody who follows IIFYM/flexible dieting.
3 – Calories aren’t equal: healthy foods have clean calories and junk foods have bad calories
A calorie is a calorie. Yes, they come from different macros. But, guess what, a macro is a macro! Your body doesn’t recognize that you ate pizza and automatically store it as fat. Just like it doesn’t recognize that you ate boneless skinless chicken breast and brown rice. If the macros are equal, food choices have little affect on body composition.
To see the differences, you’d have to look at what types of fat (saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated), what the bio-availability of the protein is, the amino acid breakdown of the protein, and the insulin response of the carbohydrates. Still, with all of those differences, they make minimal difference when it comes to body composition when macros/calories are equal! Stop majoring in the minors!
4 – You should avoid carbohydrates after dark
I think one of the big reasons this has become a mainstream idea is that people tend to eat their daily allowance of calories too early in the day and cutting out carbs after dark just limits their calorie intake. If you actually monitor calorie intake, you can have all the carbs you want without any worry about their timing. Timing of carbohydrates can affect performance in the gym, but it’s not going to affect body composition in a negative way if your calorie intake is right.
Sure, sugar has a high chance of storing as fat. However, if you are in a calorie deficit and that sugar happens to store as fat instead of being burned as energy, your body will burn stored fat to get that energy since it decided not to use the sugar. Your body is constantly burning and storing fat. So, calorie intake being managed, carb intake at any time of day won’t affect body composition negatively.
5 – Skipping breakfast leads to weight gain
This is from a correlation study done that shows overweight people tend to skip breakfast. There is no mention of monitored calorie intake. So, chances are, these people just skip breakfast but eat too much for the rest of the day. Simple as that.
In fact, Intermittent Fasting is a very popular nutritional tactic that people use to actually burn more fat and improve their composition. One of the main ways people implement this is by fasting for 16 hours a day and eating their calorie intake in an 8 hour feeding window. Most of the time, breakfast is skipped since it usually falls in the fasting window. Research more about it if you don’t believe me.
6 – Smaller meals throughout the day is better than a couple large meals
This is something that diabetic individuals do to regulate their blood sugar levels to avoid insulin spikes and drops. It keeps blood sugar levels more stable throughout the day. However, if you are not diabetic, these spikes and drops are not going to affect you much. In fact, the total insulin response for a day is the same, whether you eat a lot of small meals or a few large meals, given the same food intake.
If you have diabetes, or at risk for it, then smaller meals more often is a good tactic. If not, then there is no point to using this tactic. It doesn’t help hunger, it doesn’t help improve body composition more than a few large meals in the day, and it’s not a very time efficient method. Can you really find time to eat 6 meals a day?
7 – Sugar is bad and makes you gain fat
I talked about this a little already with the carbs after dark myth. Studies have shown that fat gain is higher when sugar intake is higher. However, these studies don’t account for calorie intake. With these studies, the real culprit of the fat gain is the over-consumption of calories in general. It’s not necessarily the sugar that causes the fat gain.
Studies that manage calorie intake and allow for high sugar intakes show that sugar doesn’t make one gain fat, even at high levels of intake. Again, calories in vs calories out is the real deal when it comes to body composition! This might be the toughest of the nutrition myths to let get and accept the truth. DO IT! 🙂
8 – You need at least 1 gram of protein per lb of body weight to maintain/gain muscle
The bodybuilding myth that has been held as a truth for too long. Some studies show that optimal protein synthesis is found with a protein intake of 1g per lb of body weight, or more. However, other studies have shown otherwise.
Looking at a great amount of the studies on protein intake shows that the actual number for optimal protein synthesis, hypertrophy, etc is somewhere around 0.8g per lb of body weight. In fact, this number may still be a little high. Studies show some extra benefits when going beyond this, but not enough to warrant the need to eat more. Sure, eat more if you want to. However, you need to know that it isn’t necessary, even when you are cutting. Cut out some of that protein and enjoy more carbs and fats! You know you want too 🙂
9 – 8 cups (64 oz) of water is optimal
Your body is approximately 60% water. I am about 210 lbs at the time of writing this, meaning I have about 126 lbs of water in my body. I have clients around 130 lbs. They only have about 78 lbs of water in their’ bodies. Should we really all be consuming 64 oz of water to ensure hydration? Maybe, but it’s probably not optimal.
Instead, I like to look at water intake as a factor of your body weight. A simple formula is to just divide your body weight by 2 and that is how many ounces of water you should be consuming daily. Some recommend even higher, although I have found no benefit. This might even be a little overkill, but not to the point of being unhealthy. Instead, it’s going to make sure you avoid dehydration. Hydration plays a huge role in health and managing your body composition as well!
10 – Eating Raw/Paleo/Gluten Free/Low Carb/etc makes tracking your calorie and macro intake unnecessary
If you want to eat a Raw diet, or Paleo, by all means, go for it. But, don’t think that following the guidelines exempts you from calorie tracking. You need to track your damn calories if you expect results. Like we’ve already talked about, calories in vs calories out. It’s not about the types of food that you eat.
Hit your calorie and macro goals every day and you can be healthier and meet your body composition goals. This isn’t an excuse to eat pizza, pop tarts, and protein shakes all day. Instead, it’s about removing dietary limitations and allowing you to have a normal life where you can go out and enjoy yourself! Eat your veggies and lean meats, but don’t be afraid to indulge when you have a craving!
There is never ending list of nutrition myths!
So many nutrition myths spring into the limelight every time some celebrity talks about how they lost weight for their last role. Most of these are just drastic theories that amount to nothing but help boost sales. They can make consumers believe that the secret of nutrition has finally been found. Bullshit, the secret has been out for a long time. Calories in vs calories out, hitting your macro goals, and managing calorie intake properly (no drastic cuts, avoid metabolic damage, etc). What other things have you heard about nutrition? I’d love to hear them and we can discuss the validity in the comments below, so make sure you post! 🙂