The 6 Biggest Diet and Nutrition Myths you will be told at some point

For advice on eating after working out, click here.

For advice on eating before working out, click here.

Inevitably when you reach the stage of the fitness life where you want to learn more about what you could be doing to improve, you'll come across a lot of information that will propel you forward and maximise the efficiency of every waking hour.

Unfortunately there's a lot of bad information out there that's treated as 'common knowledge', and following even one wrong piece of advice could net you huge losses from whatever you're doing, and there's nothing more disheartening than doing an hour long workout 4 days a week with little to no results.

What is actually a GOOD piece of knowledge is that muscles are made in the kitchen. Diets are half the work when it comes to fitness, you're not going to grow muscle, get fit or lose weight if you're not eating the right stuff (or the right amount). With that in mind, these are the 6 biggest diet myths of working out:

1: There is one universal healthy diet to follow

This might be the biggest myth of our list today, the conception that there is one diet that everyone in the world can follow for great benefits. We've seen it all, really; Gluten-free, Paleo, Vegan and now the Ketogenic diet. The truth is our bodies are very different in their structure, and with that comes a different need for foods.

Some people are best subsisting on rice and grains, others prefer an all meat diet. If you want to learn what will work best with you, take a week or more and eat from a specific diet. See what happens during that week. How tired are you in the mornings and at night? Are you gaining more muscle or fat? Pretty much everything happening to your body is relevant here. You don't know what you need until you try.

2: High protein diets will result in kidney damage or failure

This myth isn't as commonly touted as #1, but it's still just as much a myth. It has been said before that diets high in protein will decrease kidney function and could be linked to kidney stones. It has been studied that, in patients with a disorder called 'Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD), protein overload can aggravate their symptoms and a low protein diet of between 0.6 and 0.8 grams/kilogram bodyweight/day is recommended.

For those without pre-existing kidney problems, however, there is no evidence that a diet high in protein will damage the kidneys, empirical or theoretical. Even intakes of protein up to 3 grams/kilogram bodyweight/day have no measurable effect on markers of kidney function. Considering the average recommended protein consumption is between 0.8-1.2 g/kg/day, you would be fine eating over twice that. Unless you have a pre-existing condition, kidney failure isn't something to worry about on a high protein diet.

3: Fats are evil

There are three types of fats I'll talk about here, for the sake of simplicity. Unhealthy fats (trans fats), saturated fats (which are a kind've middle ground in terms of health) and healthy fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, for those who are curious).

Simply put, there is good and bad cholesterol in the human body. What trans (unhealthy) fats do is increase the amount of bad cholesterol and decrease the amount of good cholesterol.

Healthy fats, like those found in fish, nuts and olive, corn and sunflower oil actually have various proven health benefits. In fact a study in the 1960s found that people in the Mediterranean had a remarkably low rate of heart disease despite how high in fat their diet was. The reason why was the significant intake of olive oil from their diet.

As for saturated fats, the so called 'middle ground', a large number of experts on nutrition recommend getting less than 10% of your calories per day from saturated fats. The jury is still out on whether saturated fat causes heart disease, but a high consumption can increase the amount of harmful cholesterol in the body.

4: Carbs are evil

Raise your hand if you've heard this one before. Now raise your hand if you hear it every time a so called 'nutritionist' opens their mouth. This may be one of the most barefaced lies of all.

The problem is thinking of all carbohydrates as equal, really there are two groups of carbohydrates, simple and complex. The basic differences between simple and complex carbohydrates is that simple carbs break down in the body much more easily, whereas the complex carbohydrates take longer to break down. Complex carbohydrates are much healthier than simple carbs.

Why is this the case? Well when carbohydrates enter the body insulin is released when they are broken down. As simple carbs are broken down much faster, insulin is released at a greater rate and results in a high blood sugar for a short period of time. This is the sugar 'high' and 'crash' we were all so familiar with as children. With complex carbohydrates, however, the process of breaking them down takes more time, and insulin is released at a slower rate, preventing this 'high' and 'crash' from sudden spikes in blood sugar concentration.

Not all complex carbohydrates are created equal, however. There are refined and unrefined carbohydrates, and of these unrefined are the healthier choice. Unrefined carbohydrates are bonded to a modicum of other molecules, mainly fibre. When carbs are refined, however, they are stripped of what they are bonded to, and they lose the fiber they were previously carrying.

For unrefined, complex carbs, look for whole grains such as brown bread, rice or quinoa. Additionally you can go for any nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts), Green vegetables, beans and peas.

5: Grazing will boost your metabolism more than eating 3 meals a day

This is commonly touted but, like everything on this list, a myth. There are two states the body can be in; the absorptive state, where anabolism exceeds catabolism (a fancy way of saying the body is building more molecules than it is breaking down), and the post absorptive state, which occurs at least 3 hours after a meal, where catabolism exceeds anabolism (the body uses its energy stores and breaks down its fats).

If you are constantly grazing throughout the day, you never reach the stage where your fats begin to break down and your metabolism won't be boosted at all. Quite the opposite, in fact.

6: Frying your food is unhealthy

You've probably heard this all the time and, truth be told, it's not wrong, but it's also not quite right. The healthiness of frying your food comes down to what it's fried in. No heightened risk of premature death or heart disease has been observed to come from food fried in olive or sunflower oil. These findings, however, do not apply to lard, butter, or other cooking oils such as palm oil.

The reasons for this come down to the distinction between saturated and unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats are much healthier to eat than saturated fats and much healthier to use in cooking. Olive and sunflower oil are examples of unsaturated fats and therefore the cultures that use these oils in cooking suffer no health detriments because of it. Unsaturated fats, however, are thought to have a correlation with premature death if consumed frequently.

Frying your food does increase the caloric content, however, and as such should be avoided if you are trying to lose weight or are on a low fat diet.

 

Conclusion

There's a lot of things that any one person will be told in their life that will just simply be plain wrong. There's 6 common ones i'm sure you'll find said to you at some point.

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