When it comes to food and nutritional advice, it's hard to separate fact from fiction. While there's more information out there than ever before, much of it is contradictory, confused, or out of date. Let's take a look at four of the most common food myths that proliferate on the Internet in an attempt to make sense of the chaos.
1. All Fats are Bad
Saturated fats, monounsaturated fats, polyunsaturated fats, trans fats - information surrounding dietary fats can be confusing to say the least. While the trans fats found in many processed food products have always been derided by nutritionists, the situation surrounding saturated and unsaturated fats is not as simple. Surprisingly, unsaturated fats not only lower cholesterol, they also help to reduce cravings for unhealthy fatty foods by making people feel fuller between meals.
Despite being demonised for over 50 years, even saturated fats are getting good press at the moment, with full fat milk, butter, and cream found to be a rich source of short chain fatty acids that help to protect against pathogens in the digestive tract, boost the immune system, and protect brain cells. While saturated fats should only be consumed in moderation, the once-popular “killer fat” hypothesis has found to be severely lacking.
2. Diet Alone is Enough
Diet and exercise should always be approached hand in hand. While it is technically possible to lose weight without exercising, using your body is the best way to burn calories and make your diet count. People who start consuming fewer calories by dieting generally reduce their activity levels, with these two factors often cancelling each other out. This can lead to frustration over time as people fail to get the results they're looking for. By increasing daily activity in combination with healthy eating, you are more likely to see sustained weight loss and experience the improved motivation needed for real lifestyle changes.
3. You Need Meat for Protein
Much to the dismay of vegetarians, meat is often spoken about like it's the only source of viable protein. While red meat is a fantastic source of protein, foods such as nuts, seeds, and legumes can also provide the body with the essential amino acids needed for survival. Unlike meat, plant-based protein foods also offer thousands of phytochemicals that protect against disease. While a healthy vegetarian or even vegan diet is perfectly possible, additional food education and preparation time are often needed.
4. Carbs Make you Fat
Carbohydrates such as pasta and bread are often used as a scapegoat when it comes to weight loss. While too many of these foods will help you put on the pounds, it's important to remember that eating too many calories, not too many carbs, makes you fat. Good-carb foods such as whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables are a great source of fuel, fibre, and vital nutrients, with people always advised to think about the quality of the carbs they're consuming. While low-carb diets help people to reduce weight on a short-term basis, they have no benefit on a long-term basis and are much harder to stick to than more balanced weight loss regimes.
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