Myth: Carbs make you Fat
Take Home Message: Typically, 45-65% of total daily calories should come from carbohydrates for fuel and energy. Choose complex carbs with lots of FIBER. Excess calories, regardless of the source (carbs, protein, or fat), lead to weight gain.
Myth: Fat is Bad
Take Home Message: Fat is essential in the diet. Fat is filling, enhances taste, and supports fat burning. Therefore, it is needed for weight loss. Increase healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and eat less saturated and trans-fats!
Myth: Fat-Free Foods are Calorie-Free
Take Home Message: Fat-free foods are often lower in calories than the full-fat portion, but many have added sugar, flour, starch, or thickeners to improve texture and flavor after removing fat – which add calories. Check nutrition labels.
Myth: Sea Salt is Healthier than Table Salt
Take Home Message: Both salts are roughly identical. Sea salt is typically more expensive.
Myth: High Fructose Corn Syrup is worse than Table Sugar
Take Home Message: Both HFCS and table sugar are built with roughly a 50-50 blend of two sugars: fructose and glucose. Your body can’t tell one from the other. HFCS is added to more food items because it’s cheap. It’s best to cut out all unnecessary sugars.
Myth: Organic Produce is Healthier
Take Home Message: Organic produce is almost nutritionally identical to its conventional counterpart. The only issue is pesticide exposure. If worried about pesticides, buy organic produce with edible skins like grapes, apples, peaches, celery, and cucumber. Save your money on produce with impermeable skins like avocados, sweet corn, pineapple, bananas, onions, and mangos.
Myth: Dark Bread is Healthier than White Bread
Take Home Message: Can’t judge bread by its color! Read the nutrition facts label. Choose breads with the 1st ingredient as 100% whole wheat/whole grain or another whole grain like oats or barley. Beware of enriched wheat flour, which is basically white flour.
Myth: No Calories after 8 PM
Take Home Message: It’s more important what you eat versus when you eat! Calorie intake and output needs to be balanced for weight maintenance. It is typically the overconsumption, not the 8 PM curfew, which is affecting your weight control! If you are hungry at night, then eat. However, make sure to fuel your body with the right foods over the course of the entire day.
Myth: Eating Extra Protein Builds Muscle
Take Home Message: Protein, calories, the right strength routine, and most importantly carbs are essential for muscle growth. Carbs are the main fuel source for a weight-training workout. After workouts, carbs need to be consumed for replenishment, muscle growth, and recovery. Carbs help build muscle by allowing the building blocks of protein into the muscle cell for production.
Myth: Margarine is Always Better than Butter
Take Home Message: Not all margarines are created equally! Try switching to a margarine that doesn’t have trans-fats but has a very high monounsaturated fat count, which is very heart healthy. Margarines typically have less saturated fat compared to butter, but check the ingredients label for added trans-fats or hydrogenated/partially-hydrogenated oils, which are the same thing.
Myth: Gluten-Free and Paleo Diets are Healthier
Take Home Message: Gluten needs to be avoided by individuals with Celiac disease. Gluten is typically found in whole-grain foods which are high in B vitamins, iron, & fiber, which can help lower risk of certain diseases! Therefore, it is not recommended for the general public. While the Paleo diet promotes good nutritional patterns like more fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and less processed foods, it also discourages intake of dairy, legumes, and grains. All food groups are essential for a well-rounded diet!
Myth: It’s got to be Fresh
Take Home Message: Frozen and canned produce can be just as nutritious as fresh. Buy fresh in season, and opt for frozen and canned items when on sale. Make sure to check food labels for no added sugar/salt and no added cheesy or creamy sauces.
SUMMARY: How does one decide between nutrition fact and nutrition fiction? Be wary of the media and seek out the advice of a Registered Dietitian! RD’s are nutrition professionals that use evidence-based science and continued education for all nutritional recommendations and suggestions!
Nicole Olen, RD, LDN – General Manager, LifeStart at Hamilton Lakes Athletic Club