I'm posting this in January because of the amount of "interesting facts" flying around the internet this time of year. I could have busted 500 nutrition myths with the amount I have read recently on social media but I decided to keep it short and sweet and tackle the top 5 that my clients ask me the most frequently:
Before doing my degree and reading the real hard evidence to bust these myths, I used to believe a few myself, soil you are in that boat I don’t blame you - some of the information you read online is very convincing.
1. If you eat lots of protein you will get “bulky” and look like the hulk.
Females listen up! Lots of protein will not make you bulky, protein does grow and repair muscles and is very important for multiple functions within the body as well as keeping you full for longer and helping with weight loss. Most people don’t eat enough protein, you should have a hand size portion with each meal. You will only build muscle and get “bulky” if you are over eating; eating too much food in general regardless of wether protein or other food groups.
If you eat lots of protein and are still eating the correct amount of food, aka for weight loss or weight maintenance you will keep the muscle you have got, increase your energy levels and lower blood sugar spikes (reduce feelings of tiredness after), feel more satisfied and this may help you lose weight.
2. I need to eat breakfast to lose weight.
Nope, I have multiple clients who are very successful in their weight loss journey who don’t eat breakfast.
However, if not eating breakfast causes you to be very hungry at lunch and choose less healthy options (very common when skipping a meal) or causes you to snack on various snacks at 11am instead, then I would suggest having a satisfying breakfast; some protein, fruit or veg, healthy fats and oats or whole grains.
As long as your calorie intake during the day is below your weight maintenance level and you are in a calorie deficit then you will lose weight regardless of how many meals you are having.
3. Carbs are bad for you.
Carbs will not make you fat and they are not bad for you. Evidence has suggested that a large overindulgence of carbohydrates can cause some people’s body’s to be less sensitive to insulin - the hormone that helps to regulate blood sugar levels.
In todays society is it very easy to over eat on carbohydrates, especially the processed refined carbs; cake, crisps, chocolate, white bread, chips, sugary drinks. Yes these refined ones are not nutrient dense, are high in calories and are not good for you on a regular basis.
However, whole carbs such as, whole grain bread, brown rice, fruit, vegetables, quinoa, beans and pulses and potato are more nutrient dense and important for the body’s functions especially the digestive system (see some good examples in the photo to the right). These carbs, especially fruit and vegetables should be eaten. Vegetables should be eaten with every meal.
4. Gluten free is healthier.
This is probably the one that irritates me the most! Being very allergic to gluten myself since the age of 10, I can assure you that gluten free products are much less healthy than the gluten version. To try and make gluten free products have similar taste and texture to their gluten counterparts, a lot of salt, sugar, preservatives and artificial products are added to them, which you wont find in the gluten product!
Yes, most people eat too many highly proceeded gluten products which may cause a slight inflammatory response in your digestive system; if you eat toast for breakfast then bread or pasta for lunch and then pizza, pasta or a flour based product for dinner this may be overdoing it for your digestive system. However you should just be cutting down on the processed gluten containing carbohydrates instead of claiming gluten is bad for you and buying gluten free products, switch it for brown rice, buckwheat pasta, rye bread, sweet potato, corn, oats and quinoa.
5. Eating before you go to bed will make you fat.
Again similar to myth number 2, as long as you have the same amount of food throughout the day, regardless of the time you eat it you will stay the same weight or lose weight if you are eating in a calorie deficit (eating less than you are burning).
There has been a small amount of evidence to suggest that if you eat early in the evening you are more likely to increase fat loss if eating in a calorie deficit, however this can be due to multiple factors such as poorer food choices late in the evening when you are tired. So if you do eat later ensure that it is a well balanced meal and avoid snacking on sugary foods before bed.
You will only gain weight if you snack on more food late in the evening, putting you over your calorie maintenance level and into a calorie surplus.
It has also been found that you may sleep better if you don’t go to bed stuffed with a full stomach.
Hope you find these useful, as always, any questions fire them below or drop me a message.
BSc Sports Science, Women’s Fitness Specialist and Personal Trainer