Nutrition Myths Debunked
All brown grain products are whole grain.
False. Brown dyes and additives can give foods the deceiving appearance of whole grain. Read labels to be sure a food is whole grain.
Choose whole grains that contain fiber, because not all whole grain products contain fiber. Aim for 3 or more grams of fiber per serving. Remember, only half of your grains need to be whole grain (3 ounces or more a day). Increasing your whole grain intake may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Consuming extra protein is necessary to get lean and build extra muscle mass.
False. Don’t believe the supplement companies! Consuming extra protein does nothing to bulk up muscle unless you are also doing SIGNIFICANT weight training at the same time. Even then the increased requirement can EASILY come from food. I can’t tell you how many times I hear in the gym: “You need to consume 1 gram of protein for every pound you weigh.” Completely untrue! A potential problem with supplements is the body has to work overtime to get rid of excess protein, and can become distressed as a result.
Plus, if you consume too much protein, which is equivalent to too many calories, you’ll gain weight. Just eat REAL food and ditch the protein supplements. Don’t you want to learn how to eat right from all food groups instead of relying on powders and drinks?
Low-fat or fat-free means no calories.
False. A low-fat or fat-free food is often lower in fat than the same size portion of the full-fat product. Many processed low-fat or fat-free foods have just as many calories as the full-fat versions of the same foods—or even MORE calories. These products may contain added sugar, flour, or starch thickeners to improve flavor and texture after fat is removed. These ingredients add calories.
Just because it states “free”, doesn’t mean you can eat the whole package. READ THE LABELS!
Eating after 8 p.m. causes weight gain.
False. It does not matter what time of day you eat. It is WHAT and HOW MUCH you eat and how much physical activity you do during the whole day that determines whether you gain, lose, or maintain your weight. No matter when you eat, your body will store extra calories as fat. Evenly distribute your calories throughout the day. This means your late night meal won’t break the bank.
If you want to have a snack before bedtime, think about how many calories you have eaten that day. Try to avoid mindless eating in front of the TV.
Skipping meals will help with weight loss.
False. Many people think that by skipping a meal, they will be eating less food and therefore lose weight.
If you skip a meal, your body will think that you are in starvation mode and therefore S-L-O-W down the metabolism to compensate. You then tend to overeat at the next meal. Skipping a meal, then eating too much at the next one, means that you have a higher total caloric intake than if you just ate more frequently throughout the day. A better approach is to eat smaller, frequent, healthy meals and snacks.
If you can’t eat smaller meals/snacks throughout the day, make sure to have a minimum of three meals a day. Aim to have your meals no more than five hours apart. If you happen to go longer between meals, add a healthy snack that is < 200 calories. Make sure that “snack” will satisfy you until your next meal.
Certain foods, like grapefruit, celery, or cabbage soup, can burn fat and make you lose weight.
False. Foods do not burn fat. Some foods with caffeine may speed up your metabolism, but it is not recommended to increase caffeine to aid in weight loss.
If most of your beverages contain caffeine, make sure to increase the no/low/non-caffeinated fluids you consume to aid in adequate hydration.
Cutting back on CALORIES and increasing ACTIVITY will lead to successful weight loss.
Olive oil is the best oil. I don’t have to worry about how much I use when cooking
False. A teaspoon of fat is 45 calories and 5 grams of fat! This includes all cooking oils. Why? Because they are fats, too.
It is recommended to use more liquid fats vs. solid fats, because solid fats contain saturated fat. Saturated fats (animal products) affect blood cholesterol levels.
Choose lean sources of protein and dairy products to reduce the amount of saturated fat in the diet. All fats have calories, so if you don’t monitor the amounts you use when preparing a dish you can easily add >100 calories to a “healthy” meal.
Brown sugar is better than white sugar.
False. Brown sugar is actually white granulated sugar with added molasses. It contains a small amount of minerals, but not enough to make a difference in your health, unless you eat a huge portion of brown sugar every day. Of course, this is not recommended because your calorie consumption is now increased. Sugar is sugar!
I don’t use table salt, so I don’t have to worry about salt in my diet.
False. Main sources of sodium are processed foods and prepared foods. These foods are high in salt and additives that contain salt. Some examples include bread, frozen meals, casseroles, pizza, cold cuts, cured meats, cheese, canned products and restaurant foods.
The average American consumes 3,400 mg of sodium a day. It is recommended to consume < 1500 mg a day of you have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. Otherwise, aim to consume < 2300 mg a day. One teaspoon of salt is 2,325!
Eliminating all sugar and carbohydrates is the best way to lose weight.
False. Eliminating carbohydrates is not the answer. These foods provide your body and brain with fuel. You need a minimum of 130 grams of carbohydrate for adequate brain function. You need more than that for exercising and performing daily living activities.
It is recommended to limit the amount of added sugars and calories in your eating plan. Limiting extra calories consumed from juice, soda, fruit punch, sports drinks, coffee drinks, alcohol, sweet tea, baked goods, ice cream and candy will aid in a calorie deficit. An excessive amount of calories consumed, from any food, will lead to weight gain. Modifying your lifestyle is the answer to weight loss, not fad dieting.
Christina Bartlett RD, LD is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Everything in Moderation. Dedicated to providing nutrition information that is tailored to the individual.
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- Healthy Eating Options for Fueling Your Child
- Benefits of Fiber
- Eat Your Medicine
- Clean up What You Eat
- Focus on Color
- Sugar Addiction
- Health & Nutrition Apps for Family Fun
- Best Gluten Free/Casein Free Products and Where to Find Them
- Life as We Grow It: Fitness as a Life Skill for Special Needs Populations
This post originally appeared on our November/December 2013 Magazine