Nutrition Myths Debunked
Happy Monday everyone!
I was so inspired by my dispelling of those three fitness myths last Friday, that I wanted to start off the week with a bang by debunking a few of the common nutrition myths that you see and hear over and over in the media.
Ready? Let’s get started:
Eating fat will make you fat – I’ve discussed this before, but it bears repeating, as for years we’ve been told over and over again that fat is bad for us. Now yes, this is true for two types of fats (i.e. trans fats and nearly all polyunsaturated fats), but the other kinds of fat that come from real, whole foods are not! On the contrary, they are essential for life, brain function, and mental wellbeing.
Think about this for a second: are you “watching” how much fat you eat? Do you try and keep it on the lower end? Do you suffer from headaches, depression, fatigue, memory loss, or concentration troubles? This could all be tied back to a lack of healthy fats in your diet!
Did you catch that? Let me repeat myself: your depression, anxiety, headaches, memory fog, fatigue, and concentration problems could be from the lack of fat in your diet!
Powerful, right? Our brain is made up of about 60% fat, so if you aren’t eating enough, you aren’t supporting proper brain and mental health functions!
Quickly, let’s review the good and not so good sources of fats.
Here's where you can get more information and a printable PDF file: Guide to Fats and Oils
Okay, hopefully we busted through that myth. Let’s move onto the next one.
The word “natural” on a product or food means it is a healthy, good option – Not so fast. Unfortunately, the FDA has no regulations about the word natural whatsoever. What does that mean? It means that companies are slapping that label on their products even if they contain chemicals and other artificial junk. Not cool. Not cool.
So how do you decipher what is truly healthy and what is fake? Well, it starts by buying real, whole food without labels. Does an apple need an ingredient list? I think not!
Second, turn over the package of food that has "natural" on the label. What are the ingredients? The ingredients are listed in order of what is most present in the food or product. So if sugar is in the top three to five, you better believe that it makes up the majority of the product! Look for chemical names, ingredients that you can’t pronounce or don’t understand, and food colors or other additives. These are tell-tale signs that what you are holding isn’t quite so natural.
Want to read more about this situation? Here’s a wonderful article summarizing and debunking this myth: What Does Natural Mean?
Cholesterol is bad for your heart, causes heart disease, and should be avoided at all cost – Now this one may hit home to a few more people, especially those with family members or friends who have high cholesterol levels. We’ve been told (wrongly!) for years to keep your cholesterol as low as possible by eating fake butters and avoided foods with higher levels of cholesterol. Well, look where it has gotten us. Where is the health of our society? Ya...I thought so:
So what is the truth? Well, for starters, cholesterol is a precursor to a number of hormones in our bodies, like pregnenolone (which is then converted to progesterone) and other sex hormones. So if we don’t have cholesterol, our bodies can’t properly make those hormones.
Second, those fake butters that are “cholesterol lowering” are in fact inflammation raising, which is NOT a good thing. Inflammation from margarine, trans fats, and vegetable oils are part of the why behind heart disease, not cholesterol or saturated fat from egg yolks or meat!
Lastly, high cholesterol numbers means that something is wrong in your body that a statin drug simply masks over. What is usually the cause of this high cholesterol? You guessed it – inflammation.
There is so much more on this topic that I can’t cover in a single blog post. I promise I’ll dedicate an entire post soon to this topic!
In the meantime, here is more information:
Here’s an amazing, easy to read and digest book about cholesterol: Cholesterol Clarity
See also this article: Mark's Daily Apple
Okay, time for our last myth of the way. Are you ready? It’s a biggie:
To lose weight, it’s all about eating less and exercising more – Yep, I saved the best for last. We read all the time in magazines about the latest 1200 calorie diet.
I’m sorry, when did 1200 calories become the norm for women?
Most people need about 1200 calories just to survive and have their organs function properly! So if you aren’t eating more than that, you are setting yourself up for failure. When we consume fewer and fewer calories, we send the signal to our bodies that we are in a stressed state of “famine” and need to enter into survival mode.
What does that mean for us? It means that we hold on to body fat and see the loss of energy and function in some of our organs, like your brain. Ever wonder why you can’t seem to function at 3pm or can’t lose any weight despite eating fewer and fewer calories and working out harder than ever? A lot of times, this comes from the effects that undereating has on our stress levels and hormones!
So if eating less and exercising more aren’t the answer for true, permanent weight loss (not losing and regaining the same 10-20 pounds over and over again your entire life!), what is?? Well, it starts with proper nutrition and nourishment for your body. Don’t be afraid to eat a lot of the good foods, like vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats. Fill up your plate with lots of food – don’t deprive yourself of the nourishment your body is craving. More real, whole foods mean more vitamins and minerals for your body, which means that you will feel satiated and satisfied longer because your body is in homeostasis and isn’t unbalanced.
Okay, I felt like I could go on and on about each one of these myths for an entire blog post…maybe I will have to do just that over the next few weeks! Either way, here’s my takeaways for this post:
Fat does NOT make you fat.
Natural doesn’t equal healthy when it comes to food labels.
Cholesterol from real, whole foods is not to be feared or avoided.
Margarine is NOT healthy for your heart, brain, or health.
Eating less and exercising more is NOT the key to lasting weight loss and health.
Remember, if you ever have any further questions, shoot me an email or leave a comment below! I’d love to help you better understand the why behind these myths!