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The Dirty Dozen – 12 Healthy Eating Myths

By Luke Pearce, B.Sc. Biology, PN-1, NASM-CPT
Inner Element Fitness Lead Nutritionist

While goals like losing weight, becoming stronger or eating healthier are good individually, it is more important to have a mindset that is focused on total balance than just one element. Since there is a lot of information about healthy eating that can lead you down a path of inaccurate thinking, here is a list of twelve healthy eating ideas that sound good on the surface, but leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to striking a healthy balance.

Number One: All sugar is bad

You do not need to eliminate all sugar, just make smarter choices. Sugar itself is not bad, but the problem is that it is easy to overeat. Be aware of the Glycemic Index, which is a measure of how quickly all carbs are digested. Some sugary items, such as processed foods or fruits, have a high Glycemic Index, which can be dangerous for certain people.

Number Two: Eating more fats helps you lose fat

The thought that eating more fat causes you to burn more fat is somewhat misconstrued. You burn more fat to a point, but after that it results in more fat being stored in your body. Fats are generally higher in caloric content, so it does you no good if following a specific diet throws off your caloric balance.

Number Three: All fats are bad

While there may be some anecdotal evidence to support the theory of fat elimination, there is not enough scientific evidence to prove long-term benefits. “Good” fats provide certain benefits and are important for brain function. In fact, a Harvard Medical School study found that the amount of fat does not affect brain function, but the type of fat does.

Number Four: Coffee and chocolate are bad

It is easy to overeat chocolate since it causes a rise in dopamine, which makes you feel good. Some types of chocolate might have certain benefits, but if they cause you to overeat, then it is not a good option. With coffee, most people enjoy the caffeine high, but you cannot drink coffee all day either. You need to be well-hydrated with water and avoid those lattes and flavorings that add empty calories.

Number Five: Carbs are evil and should be avoided

Carbs are not scientifically bad for you. Carbs help muscle gain and fat loss, provide micronutrients, and are a powerful energy source. People who do intense bodybuilding, for example, deplete muscle glycogen, which needs to be replenished, so they actually eat more carbs.

Number Six: Eating carbs after “X” p.m. makes you gain weight

Time-restricted eating has no direct correlation to weight gain. If a late-night snack takes you over your daily caloric maintenance balance, then it should be avoided. If it does not, then enjoy your late-night snack.

Number Seven: Brown eggs have more nutrition than white

This has no scientific foundation, because the color of the eggshell does not affect nutrition. Different breeds of chickens make different color eggs, so do not go out of your way to buy expensive brown eggs.

Number Eight: Midnight snacking will make you gain weight

This is a variation on the time-restricted eating theory, but the short answer is that it all boils down to caloric balance.

Number Nine: Liquid diets help you lose weight the fastest

A liquid diet may be a useful tool in weight loss, but what happens when the “diet” is over, and you have not gained any healthy eating habits? There can be a lot of calories in a smoothie, where you might end up with a full day of caloric intake in just one drink.

Number Ten: Microwaving your food in any plastic container leads to cancer

If you heat every meal for the next 20 years in a plastic container, maybe, but in general microwave-safe plastic is not a bad thing. If it gives you peace of mind to heat your food in glass containers, however, then go ahead.

Number Eleven: Your body craves what it’s missing, so it’s ok to satisfy cravings

When you restrict your caloric intake, your body craves food, but it has no internal mechanism to keep you from binging. Look at your weekly caloric intake as well as the daily amounts. If you can satisfy a craving without going over your weekly total, then go ahead.

Number Twelve: Fresh veggies and fruits are better than frozen

Ideally food tastes better when it is fresh, but freezing is simply a natural way of preserving food. Most are comparable on a micronutrient level, but one strange exception is that carrots don’t maintain beta-carotene when frozen.

Ready to get on track? Ask me for help defining goals and designing a personalized nutritional plan to help you achieve those goals.

DISCLAIMER Please recognize the fact that it is your responsibility to work directly with your physician before, during, and after seeking fitness consultation. As such, any information provided is not to be followed without the prior approval of your physician. If you choose to use this information without the prior consent of your physician, you are agreeing to accept full responsibility for your decision. 

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