10 food and diet myths debunked

1. Eating more protein will build you more muscle

Protein provides the building blocks for muscle to build. However, your body only needs a certain amount of protein per day – an amount that depends on your metabolism, your muscle content and how much there is to repair – and anything consumed over that amount will be excreted, stored as body fat from its excess calories or used as energy if carbohydrates or fats are not available.

2. Working out for days in a row is a bad thing

This depends on your nutrition and recovery. Rest is important, but so is continual adaptation, enjoyment of working out and challenging yourself. People who have to run miles to get water or cut down trees to make a fire don’t say “no, I’m not going to do that today because it’s my rest day”. Your body can do more than it thinks. If you aren’t seeing progress, try doing more.

3. Certain foods make you lose fat

Very much not true. Losing body fat is a combined effort of dietary input (both quality and quantity) and activity output. Certain foods help create a good environment for burning body fat – such as chilies, green vegetables and coffee – but they won’t burn fat by you eating them. You are doing a good thing having your apple, kale and ginger smoothie for breakfast, but don’t think that consuming that in itself is burning excess body fat. It is the combination of everything and the repetition of this process.

4. Coke and Diet Coke are as bad as each other for weight loss

Health cap off, for one second. Coke contains calories through the sugar that easily store as body fat. Diet Coke contains no calories and has caffeine to stimulate the mind. Based on this, Diet Coke is the better choice for weight loss. However, Diet Coke still tastes sweet and thus its consumption can lead you to crave more sweet things – things that do have fat-storing calories in them. Morever, because it doesn’t have any calories, it doesn’t fuel you at all; it just makes you more alert. So you will soon become hungry as the body needs fuel. Again, with the taste of sweetness in your mouth, and hunger striking you are more likely to be drawn to sugary foods. Health cap back on. Do not have them if you can help it, have some water, tea or coffee instead.

5. Diet, No Fat and Lite desserts or snacks are good for weight loss

As with the above, when they contain sweetener, they will make you crave more sugary things, potentially leading you towards the calorie-laden confectionary or pastry aisles. The study of sweeteners on health is still going with evidence inconclusive either way. To be safe, stick with the natural choices. If you choose the snacks or desserts that have low fat content, look to see that they haven’t piled it with sugar to supplement it. Less than 7g of sugar per 100g should be OK.

6. “I can never be thin”

Apart from in exceptional, very rare circumstances, this is never the case based on your body’s abilitirs. Some people have a natural bone structure that is heavier than others, yes; but numerical weight and visual physique do not go hand-in-hand. People may never be able to lose weight because of their relationship with food and exercise, and their mindset isn’t as strong as others to eat less and move more, meaning that yes you may never be thin. But this doesn’t mean you can’t be thin physiologically. You just need to change your mind, rather than your body.

7. Carb-less diets are best for weight loss

Carbohydrates allow us to function best both in thought and activity, in the gym and out. Carbs allow you to workout hard, feel good and are necessary for efficient digestion. It also allows your body to use the most efficient source of energy to fuel you rather than hard earned muscle. Carbs in your diet are a must; it’s just the timing of their ingestion that matters. Eat around your weights workout, don’t eat them before fasted cardio, and try no carbs after 6pm to allow them to fuel you and not to store body fat. Furthermore, eat complex carbs with low sugar but with a good general carbohydrate and fibre content. Brown rice, wholewheat bread, sweet potatoes, brown pasta, all good choices of complex carbs.

8. Snacking stops you losing weight

Neither true nor untrue. The idea of snacking is fine if the choices are low in sugar and are healthy in their make up. It is the total calories consumed each day, the composition of the carbohydrate, fat and protein macronutrients and the ‘healthy’ nature of your choices that will help or hinder your weight loss. If you like snacking, snack and keep track of your daily calories and choices. If you like three meals a day, don’t snack and keep track of your daily calories and choices.

9. Saturated fats are to be avoided

As long as they come from natural sources, keep them in your diet as omitting them is more unnatural than consuming them. Just make sure that you get a good proportion of the other healthy fats in your diet too (mono- and poly-unsaturated fats), and that fats only take up around 20% of your daily calories (carbohydrates 50% and protein 30%). Avoid hydrogenated and trans fats from manmade processed foods – these are unnatural for your body, are difficult to digest and provide no raison d’être.

10. “I don’t have time to meal prep or workout”

Yes you do. End of. If you want it, get up and work for it.

Chris James MA O.A. Dip

Head of Fitness and Nutrition

Chris James
Top Local Trainer Author
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