There are so many mixed messages in the media related to diet and exercise, what works, what doesn’t work, try this for best results, or eat this, not this, etc. It can get confusing even for someone who is a professional (like myself) in the field! I don’t want to overwhelm you with TOO much information today so I thought I would stick with 5 of my most favourite (and most common) food myths….
1. Low-fat foods are good for you. ARGH, this is the one I hear about the most but disagree with the most! About 20 years ago, low-fat foods took over the grocery stores. Low fat equalled weight loss. But no one looked at the fact that weight didn’t rely on fat alone. Excess calories and sugar could still be present in excess when fat was reduced to make up for the taste. In desserts that are low fat, there is usually is an increase in sugar, which equals more calories. The type of fat matters as well. Healthy fats such as olive, coconut and grape seed oil are mono and unsaturated, which are the healthiest. Low-fat foods often contain saturated or hydrogenated fats found in fried foods, baked goods, cookies, icings, crackers, packaged snack foods, microwave popcorn, and some stick margarines. This makes the food taste better and prolongs shelf life, but making it a part of your diet plan can increase your risk of heart disease and Low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the bad cholesterol. Read the label and don’t fall for all foods that are “low fat.” Choose instead to ensure you have healthy fats (nuts, avocado, fish oil, coconut/olive oil, nut butters etc) in your diet (at least 20% of your daily intake). Here’s a blog I wrote on the importance of fat in your diet…
2. Granola is healthy. Granola is made from whole rolled oats, which alone is healthy for you. If you stopped there you’d be fine! The problem is that those natural oats are now covered in sugar with added nuts, dried fruits and excess oil which increases the calories, fat and sugar. Maybe a handful for a quick snack is fine, but not as a daily breakfast. Your best bet is to have 100 per cent oatmeal cooked in water, adding 1/2 cup of blueberries with almond milk or little cinnamon and even pure maple syrup (1 tbsp.) for taste. This has way less calories, fat and sugar than traditional granola. Or ask some of my clients what their favourite breakfast is…PROTEIN PANCAKES!!
3. Eggs are bad for you. There’s one thing that nutrition professionals have had remarkable success with…and that is making super healthy foods seem incredibly unhealthy.
The worst example of that is eggs, which happen to contain a large amount of cholesterol and were therefore believed to increase the risk of heart disease.
But recently it has been proven that the cholesterol in your diet doesn’t really raise the cholesterol in blood. In fact, eggs primarily raise the “good” cholesterol and are NOT associated with increased risk of heart disease.
What we’re left with is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. They’re high in all sorts of nutrients along with unique antioxidants that protect our eyes.
To top it all of, despite being a “high fat” food, eggs are proven to cause significant weight loss, compared to bagels (or my least favourite, CEREAL), as a breakfast food.
Bottom Line: Eggs do not cause heart disease and are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. Eggs for breakfast can help you lose weight. Egg whites are even better 🙂
4. Whole grains should be a necessity in everyone’s diet.
The idea that humans should be basing their diets on grains has never made sense.
The agricultural revolution happened fairly recently in human evolutionary history and our genes haven’t changed that much. Grains are fairly low in nutrients compared to other real foods, like vegetables. They are also rich in a substance called phytic acid which binds essential minerals in the intestine and prevents them from being absorbed.
The most common grain in the western diet, by far, is wheat… and wheat can cause a host of health problems, both minor and serious.
Modern wheat contains a large amount of a protein called gluten, but there is evidence that a significant portion of the population may be sensitive to it.
Eating gluten can damage the intestinal lining, cause pain, bloating, stool inconsistency and tiredness. Gluten consumption has also been associated with schizophrenia and cerebellar ataxia, both serious disorders of the brain (I didn’t know this!).
Bottom Line: Grains are relatively low in nutrients compared to other real foods like vegetables. The gluten grains in particular may lead to a variety of health problems. They are also full of sugar which when eaten will spike your insulin levels and causes cravings. Ever wonder why you want more bread after eating bread? It’s because you digest it so quickly it leaves you hungry and craving more! STOP EATING BREADS AND CEREALS!
5. Eating a lot of protein is bad for your kidneys and bones. This is my most favourite myth! High protein diets are far from bad for you, eating lots of protein is the best (and in my opinion the only way) to lose weight!
A high protein diet has been claimed to cause both osteoporosis and kidney disease. It is true that eating protein increases calcium excretion from the bones in the short term, but the long term studies actually show the opposite effect. In the long term, protein has a strong association with improved bone health and a lower risk of fracture. Additionally, studies don’t show any association of high protein with kidney disease in otherwise healthy people.
In fact, two of the main risk factors for kidney failure are diabetes and high blood pressure. Eating a high protein diet improves both.
If anything, a high protein diet should be protective against osteoporosis and kidney failure!
Bottom Line: Eating a high protein diet is associated with improved bone health and a lower risk of fracture. High protein also lowers blood pressure and improves diabetes symptoms, which should lower the risk of kidney failure. And what’s best about eating lots of protein is that it helps to increase your metabolism as it takes so much energy for your body to break it down. It also prevents you from overeating as eating protein helps keep you feeling fuller longer. Are you hungry all the time?? It’s most likely because you’re not eating enough protein (or fat).
So there you have it…5 of my favourite food myths! There are A LOT more but I will save them for a post in the future….
What are some other food and nutrition myths you have seen/heard or are unsure about?