Working in the fitness industry, I’m constantly bombarded with information on food, nutrition, diets and the like. I believe myself to be very knowledgeable about food and how to properly nourish my body, but I frequently become overwhelmed by the quantity of contradictory information I encounter on a daily basis. So, how does the ordinary “Joe-Shmo” digest and interpret all of the information that is bombarded upon them? Here are some very common food misconceptions to begin your journey toward enlightenment
1. Carbs are your enemy
Without getting overly scientific, Carbohydrates are a macronutrient that are our body’s primary source of fuel, including our brains. They supply our body with the energy needed to perform even the most basic functions like thinking, walking and digesting. For this reason, we should not avoid carbs, however we should be aware of which types to consume and when. There are essentially two forms of carbohydrate-containing foods, refined and unrefined.
- Low-fat, or fat-free dairy products
- Fruit juice (even homemade fruit juices)
- Any sugar (or high fructose corn syrup) sweetened beverage: soda, sweet tea, energy drinks, etc
- Refined grains and their products: White bread, white pasta, white rice, muffins, bagels, donuts, etc
- Sugary foods: cake, cookies, baked goods, candy, etc
- Whole or dried fit
- Legumes (beans, peas, lentils)
- Whole grains (oats, short grain brown rice, 100% whole wheat, quinoa, sweet potato)
Through my experiences in the advertising industry, I have learned how to be pretty damn good at putting a spin on things to make them out to be something they are not. Because of this, I have also learned how to spot a gimmick from miles away. Unfortunately, when it comes to food things are no different.
Make sure you are reading your labels thoroughly. One of the most common mistakes food shoppers make is the purchase of “Whole Wheat” bread. Look for the words “100% whole grain” or 100% whole wheat” and avoid the words “Enriched Flour” in the listed ingredients.
In a nutshell, carbs are important based on your need for them and when ingested properly are a great source of fuel for your workouts and training sessions. Use them wisely and experience better results.
Read also: Are Grains Good or Bad For Your Health?
2. Egg Whites are the way to go
Eggs are probably one of the most controversial foods in existence. There is no research to date that proves that fewer eggs equates to fewer heart attacks, yet they still hold a bad reputation and are the first to be blacklisted by doctors in response to high cholesterol. studies shown that eating one egg everyday does not heighten your potential for high blood pressure and heart diseases.
One reason for this is because most of the fats in the yolk are unsaturated and are good for your health. Eggs are one of the most complete foods, containing all essential amino acids, 6 grains of protein per egg and trace amounts of 15 different vitamins and minerals. Given their composition, it’s no wonder that athletes and fitness gurus incorporate them into their daily diets. However, dumping the yolk means you are also dumping the majority of the nutrients in the egg, as most of them reside in the yolk itself.
Read also: Are Healthy Foods Really Expensive?
3. Cooked vegetables are lower in nutrients than raw vegetables.
While this sounds logical that heat destroys some vitamins by dissolving them in water, this is mostly not true. The idea that cooking causes foods to lose some of their nutrients is usually half-baked. Raw food advocates argue that heat destroys the enzymes in foods that aid in digestion.
But cooking, on the other hand, breaks down fiber to the point where it can be processed readily. Cooking also enhances the levels of nutrients that can be easily absorbed in fruits and vegetables. Ketchup, for example, had 6 times the amount of lycopene (an antioxidant) as raw tomatoes.
5. Eating nuts makes you fat
It’s a common misconception that eating nuts consistently makes you fat since they’re high in fat. But this is not true. Nuts are certainly loaded with fat, but it’s the good kind of fat; heart-healthy monosaturated fat. According to researchers, eating nuts makes people feel fuller, causing them to eat less later. Nuts may also help you lose weight since the protein in them demands more energy to digest. So, the next time you’re looking for a healthy snack, reach for a handful of your faves.
6. Red meat is bad for you
“Calorie for calorie, beef is one of the most nutrient-rich foods,” says Shalene McNeil, PhD, executive director of nutrition research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Red meat provides protein, which, as we know, helps build bones and muscles. Red meat is also very high in heme iron, which is easily absorbed by the body.
So why is eating red meat seen as such a stigma? There exists the idea that red meat is a cause of cancer, however, no study has ever found a direct cause-and-effect relationship between red-meat consumption and the potentially deadly disease. Then there is the idea that beef causes heart disease. When most people think of red meat, they think of fatty burgers and steaks. These cuts of red meat are unhealthy because they are high in saturated fat.
Saturated fat is a problem because it clogs the arteries which make it more difficult for the heart to pump blood. Individuals who consume foods that are high in saturated fat increase their likelihood of developing heart disease. But not all red meat is high in saturated fat, and some studies have shown that consumption of lean red meat doesn’t cause a significant increase in cholesterol levels. Most studies focus on red meat itself without controlling for fat content, giving the idea that all red meat is harmful and should be avoided.
With these common food myths busted it is important to note that nothing should be consumed in excess. Even some of the most nutritional foods out there can be harmful if consumed in high quantities. Take spinach, for example. Although it is considered a “superfood,” too much of it may increase your risk of developing kidney stones because of it is high in oxalates. The golden rule to maintaining a healthy diet? Everything in moderation.