In this FitBliss blog, we are tackling several nutrition myths that keep bouncing back with evidence-based facts. At the end, you’ll find references to explore each topic further!
Whether at the grocery store, browsing the internet or meal prepping for the family; each day we are faced with food and nutrition information overload.
So how do you separate myths from facts?
You would think, as time goes on, there would be fewer nutrition myths to tackle. Unfortunately, the internet and other sources are full of misinformation, and it can be very difficult to tell what is evidenced-based without reading the actual study.
As we embark on a New Year, there’s no better time to examine what we really know about nutrition and the choices we make. It’s important to know the facts about what we are eating so we can can develop healthy habits.
#1: Eating late at night will make you fat. Myth or Fact?
Fact: Our metabolism is constantly running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year! What you eat and how much is far more important than when you eat it. No matter what time you eat, calories are calories! There is no magic hour that our body decides to store calories as fat or use as fuel.
If you are constantly overindulging after dinner, it’s the overindulging that’s derailing your weight loss efforts, not the clock. However, for some people the “no calories after 8pm rule” can be an effective weight loss tool because it means they’ll take in fewer calories over the course of the day. But if dinner is running late or you are feeling hungry, then eat! You need to feed and fuel your body.
If you’re listening to your body and balancing calories (not just scarfing down junk food) over the day, there is no damage done. Most importantly, if you workout in the evening, eating is not optional! You must refuel those hard worked muscles. Depending on the activity type and duration, you’ll need water, electrolytes, carbohydrates and protein. (1,2)
#2: Coffee is unhealthy and should be avoided. Myth or Fact?
Fact: Coffee is packed full of antioxidants and promotes many health benefits.
Coffee contains several important nutrients, including riboflavin, pantothenic acid, potassium and magnesium. Many studies show coffee has powerful health benefits due to the fact it’s packed full of antioxidants.
In addition, research has shown that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of depression, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Coffee is also one the biggest sources of antioxidants in the western diet, out ranking fruits and veggies combined! (3,4)
#3: White potatoes aren’t as nutritious as sweet potatoes. Myth or Fact?
Fact: Both potatoes are nutrient dense and offer different benefits. Many people think since potatoes are white they offer little nutritional value; however, both sweet and white potatoes offer tons of vitamins and minerals (especially if you eat the skin).
Sweet potatoes are getting so much attention lately as a superfood. They are higher in vitamin A due to their bright orange color, however white potatoes contain more potassium and magnesium. It’s a close call for both potatoes when it comes to fiber, protein and vitamin C. There is no need to fight over which potatoes to have, so make sure you switch it up all week long!
Preparation is the key for both types of potato. Most often potatoes are deep-fried and consumed as french fries, but you can change the cooking method to steamed, boiled or baked to keep both potatoes healthy! (4,5)
#4: Carbs will make you gain weight. Myth or Fact?
Fact: Excess amounts of any macronutrient (carbs, protein or fat) can cause weight gain.
It’s all about balance. Any carbohydrate, protein or fat consumed beyond what your body needs will be converted to fat. When it comes to carbs, most people choose unhealthy, refined, fried or processed options. Carbs are the body’s main energy source, as well as, providing vital nutrients and fiber. Carbs sustain our blood glucose and muscle glycogen levels, especially during a tough workout session.
Try to consume whole grains, fruits and veggies that are closest to their natural form. Also, for many people, a low-carb diet may be harder to maintain in the long run since it can be restrictive. This may create an ongoing diet cycle of restriction and binging.
For people who love carbs, eating a low-carb diet may help manage their weight. No matter what you choose the best diet is one that you can stick with for the long haul! (6,7)
#5: Sugar is bad but high fructose corn syrup is way worse. Myth or Fact?
Fact: Sugar has many disguises and too much added sugar from any source is not good for the body! Sugar is most well known as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) but also goes by many other names, such as, maltodextrin, brown rice syrup, dextrose and sucrose. High fructose corn syrup is a man-made sweetener that’s in many processed products, from cereals to ketchup to sweetened beverages.
In a 2014 study comparing the effects of sugar and HFCS, there was no evidence to show HFCS is less healthy than other types of added sweeteners. In other words, your body can’t tell one from the other, so it’s a good idea to limit any form of added sugar in your diet.
Read labels! The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to about 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 for men. For reference, 1 teaspoon is about 4 grams of sugar. (8,9)
#6: Eggs should not be eaten since they are high in cholesterol. Myth or Fact?
Fact: Whole eggs are among the most nutrient dense foods and almost all the nutrients are found in the yolks!
Egg yolks do contain a significant amount of cholesterol at about 211 mg per large egg. Cholesterol is the fatty stuff in our blood that can clog arteries, so speak with your doctor if you have high cholesterol. For the majority of people, cholesterol in the diet has little effect on cholesterol in the blood.
Studies have shown that eggs raise our HDL (good) cholesterol but don’t raise the risk for heart disease. Several studies have shown eating eggs has no effect on the risk of heart disease or stroke in non-diabetic individuals. So the bottom line, despite eggs being high in cholesterol, they do not raise blood cholesterol for the most people. If you're concerned about your cholesterol levels, consult your doctor before ramping up your egg intake. (10,11)
While there are many nutrition and food myths in circulation, a healthy winter doesn’t have to be hard. A balanced diet, quality sleep and regular exercise are usually the best course for staying healthy and preventing diseases. With so many choices and decisions you make each day it can be hard to sort through. But don’t worry FitBliss is here to help guide you into a healthy New Year!
Danielle Stadelman, RDN
Danielle currently works as a Corporate Wellness Dietitian for Guckenheimer, a food service provider in many corporate companies in the Greater Los Angeles Area. Danielle also works as a wellness and nutrition content writer for several online platforms. She holds a bachelor degree in Dietetics and Food Administration with an emphasis on Food and Nutrition from Cal State Long Beach. Danielle is currently pursuing her certification in Integrative and Functional Nutrition. She is passionate about educating clients and corporate companies on the importance of eating real whole foods for better health and performance.
Follow @wellnesswithdanielle on Instagram for more tips on nutrition and wellness.
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