5 Nutrition Myths Debunked
Myth #1: All calories are created equal.
I am sure you’ve heard the phrase, “calories in, calories out.” Meaning, in order to lose weight, you have to burn off more calories than you take in. While this may be true, that statement alone doesn’t tell the full story. The foods we eat contain varying degrees of micronutrients that pass through different metabolic pathways in the body. (1)
In other words, depending on the m
icronutrient content of food, what we eat is digested in differently and can affect our bodies in numerous ways. Some foods we eat can increase our metabolic rate, while others work to decrease it. Certain foods can also increase appetite, while others have been shown to decrease it. (2)
If our bodies get the nutrients and fuel it needs, our digestive system and metabolism will function properly and burn and store fat appropriately. Additionally, we will be less prone to hunger and cravings, preventing us from overeating and gaining excess weight. (3)
In short, while you do need to burn more calories than you take in to lose weight, if you eat the whole, unprocessed foods, you can stop counting calories all together and trust your body when it comes to the calories it needs to feel satisfied & healthy.
Myth #2: Eating fat makes you fat.
Despite contrary belief, the fat you eat isn’t directly correlated to the fat you put on as weight. The end-users of the food we eat are our cells. Our bodies were built to store fat from food and feed our cells with that stored fat, which is converted to fuel. Our cells need fat to thrive. If we are eating the right foods, this process will function relatively easily. (4)
However, if you are eating an excess of carbohydrates and sugar, your body produces insulin to bring your blood sugar down by feeding those same cells with sugar instead of fat. (5) The downside to this is that our bodies are not built to store an excess amount of sugar. So instead, our bodies convert that sugar to fat since fat storage is unlimited in the body. Insulin then does it’s other job which is to store that excess fat created.
For healthy people, once insulin has brought blood sugar down, fat is released to fuel your cells as it should be and the process goes back to normal. (6) However, over time, if you continue to eat processed sugars and carbohydrates, your cells can become resistant to the effects of insulin bringing down blood pressure. This is called insulin sensitivity. (6) When this happens, insulin tries to feed our cells the stored fat but our bodies don’t listen. We then produce even more insulin that in turn is forced to turn excess sugar to fat and store that fat, because our cells aren’t using any of it as fuel. (6)
In summary, if we eat a diet higher in fat, our bodies are capable of properly storing and burning that fat as fuel. When we eat a diet higher in sugar and carbohydrates, our bodies end up turning most of it into excess fat that gets stored instead of used as fuel. Eating a diet high in fat as opposed to sugars and carbohydrates enables our body to burn fat as fuel instead of storing it in the form of excess weight. (7)
Myth #3: Skim milk is better for you than whole milk.
Following the logic of myth #2, the higher fat content in whole milk is not necessarily bad for you. Our bodies were built to use fat for fuel. When we deprive our bodies of fat and load up on sugar and carbohydrates, our blood sugar spikes and weight gain can ensue. (8)
Once you strip milk of its naturally occurring fat, all that’s left is sugar. Fat slows the digestion of sugar when eaten together, making the sugar in whole milk less harmful to our blood sugar than skim milk, because it comes without that important fat component. Fat also keeps us full and fueled, making us less prone to hunger and cravings. (9)
Furthermore, by definition, skim milk is not technically a “whole” food, which implies that the food comes with all of its naturally occurring nutrition. Matters are made even worse since most low-fat dairy products contain added sugar and flavors mostly aimed toward children, much more harmful than the little bit of healthy fat that is naturally occurring in milk. (10)
Myth #4: As long as you exercise, it doesn’t matter what you eat.
A lot of people think that one of the main reasons we are unhealthier and heavier than we were 50-100 years ago is because we decreased the time we spend exercising. However, as many studies have shown, rates of physical activity have not varied that much over the past century. Unlike exercise, our dietary habits have changed significantly. (11)
While developing a sustainable & effective exercise regimen is an important part of any healthy lifestyle, the food you eat plays a much bigger role in overall health, weight & energy levels. You can theoretically lose weight off exercise alone but it is much more inefficient and time consuming. By integrating whole, unprocessed foods into your diet you will be able to achieve your goals a lot faster. (12)
Myth #5: Low fat oils are healthier than oils higher in fat.
This follows the same reasoning as Myth #2 & #3. Other than the positive benefits from eating body-fueling fats, low fat vegetables oils contain high amounts of omega-6s, which can be very harmful in excess. (13) Higher-fat oils like olive and coconut oil are extremely high in omega-3s, which our bodies need and which we are often deficient in. (13)
Furthermore, our bodies were not meant to consume these types of oils. The fat content of our bodies is 97% saturated and monounsaturated fat, only 3% is polyunsaturated fat, which is what vegetable oil is. (14) Since our bodies need fat to feed our cells (as explained in #2), when we consume vegetable oils, we have no choice but to feed our cells with that type of fat. Unfortunately, polyunsaturated fats are very unstable and can oxidize very easily in the body. This oxidation can provoke inflammation and other health issues. In short, it is much healthier to consume fats that mirror the type of fat we have in our bodies – saturated and monounsaturated fats like coconut oil, butter, olive oil, etc. are actually better for us, despite their higher fat content. (15)
Anya Kaats & Suja Juice
- “Nutrient Bioavailability – Getting the Most out of Food.” European Food Information Council. EUFIC Publishing. Web. 24 Nov. 2015. <http://www.eufic.org/en/food-today/article/nutrient-bioavailability-getting-the-most-out-of-food>.
- Monaco, Emily. “21 Foods That Increase Metabolism (You’ll Love #7) – Organic Authority.” Organic Authority. Organic Authority LLC., 2015. Web. 25 Nov. 2015.
- “McKinley Health Center – Macronutrients: The Importance of Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat – University of Illinois.” McKinley Health Center – Macronutrients: The Importance of Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat – University of Illinois. University of Illinois, 2015. Web. 15 Nov. 2015. <http://www.mckinley.illinois.edu/Handouts/macronutrients.htm>
- Monaco, Barbara. “Bostonia: The Alumni Magazine of Boston University.” Why We Are Fat. Boston University. Web. 2015. <http://www.bu.edu/bostonia/winter-spring12/corkey/>.
- “Metabolism and Appetite Balance for Optimum Weight Management.” Metabolism and Appetite Balance for Optimum Weight Management. New Spirit Naturals, 2015. Web. 2014 <http://naturalways.com/weightLoss.htm>.
- Wilcox, Christie. “Nutrition Wonderland.” Understanding Our Bodies: Insulin | . Nutrition Research (New York), 2015. Web. 25 Nov. 2015. <http://nutritionwonderland.com/2010/05/understanding-our-bodies-insulin/>.
- “Dietary Fat, Not Glucose, Is the Preferred Body Fuel.” Mercola.com. Marcela Publishing Inc, 10 Aug. 2012. Web. 25 Nov. 2015. <http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2012/08/10/fat-not-glucose.aspx>.
- Sifferlin, Alexandra, and Alexandra Sifferlin. “Skim Milk Is Healthier Than Whole Milk, Right? Maybe Not | TIME.com.” Time. Time. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.
- Macronutrients.” InnerBody. Macronutrients Inc, 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2015. <http://www.innerbody.com/nutrition/macronutrients
- “Eat Well, Live Well.” Lifetime Fitness LLC, 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2015. <https://www.lifetimefitness.com/content/dam/ltfweb/pdfs/weight-loss/Life-Time-Fitness-Nutrition-Manual.pdf> (link no longer active).
- “Why You May Need To Exercise Less.” Chris Kresser. Kresser LLC, 27 Jan. 2012. Web. 30 Nov. 2015. <http://chriskresser.com/why-you-may-need-to-exercise-less/>.
- Learn, Sarah. “How Many Calories Should You Eat To Lose Weight? – BuiltLean.” Mens Health Magazine, 18 Jan. 2011. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <http://www.builtlean.com/2011/01/18/how-many-calories-should-you-eat-to-lose-weight/>.
- “6 Reasons Why Vegetable Oils Can Be Harmful.” RSS 20. Authority Nutrition LLC, 12 Aug. 2013. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <http://authoritynutrition.com/6-reasons-why-vegetable-oils-are-toxic/>.
- “Possum Hollow Natural Health Clinic.” Possum Hollow Natural Health Clinic. Natural Health Clinic, 2015. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <http://www.possumhollow.com.au/www/content/default.aspx?cid=1941http://www.possumhollow.com.au/www/content/default.aspx?cid=1941>.
- “Too Much Omega-6 Fats May Increase Your Heart Disease Risk.” Mercola.com. Mercola Publishing, 2015. Web. 1 Dec. 2015. <http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/02/21/omega-6-dangers.aspx>.