Spooky Nutritional Myths
Thank you to Meag Hengeveld for writing this blog.
Myth #1- To lose weight, I need to cut out carbs.
We’ve heard for so long that carbs are evil, and we should stay away from them. This is one of the biggest nutrition myths that is told over and over. When we digest carbohydrates, the body breaks it down into glucose molecules. The body uses glucose molecules to create energy through the Krebs cycle. For people that are very active or workout several times a week, they need carbohydrates to fuel that energy! The reason low-carb diets have worked for some is because overall calories are lowered when they cut out carbs. If someone controls their calorie intake, and burns more calories than they eat, they should focus on a healthy balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates. Carbohydrates themselves do not cause weight gain or weight loss.
Myth #2- High Fructose Corn Syrup is worse for you than regular sugar.
High fructose corn syrup is a carbohydrate. When digested, it breaks down into glucose and fructose molecules. Sugar, also a carbohydrate, breaks down into almost the exact same ratio of glucose and fructose. If a product claims to use “real sugar” instead of high fructose corn syrup, it really isn’t any healthier. The reason we’ve been taught to fear high fructose corn syrup is because it is used in everything. It is the preferred sweetener for large food companies because it works well as a preservative and sweetener, making the products last a very long time. Instead of worrying over consuming high fructose corn syrup versus real sugar, we should control the amount we have daily. As we talked about above, a healthy ratio of carbohydrates is a good thing. A small amount of high fructose corn syrup or sugar is sustainable for a healthy lifestyle. A large amount of either is what we want to watch out for.
Myth #3- I can take a multivitamin and get all of the nutrients I need.
The whole “if it fits into your macros” diet has turned people into eating pop tarts and ice cream for dinner and they justify it by taking a multivitamin or drinking a green drink. The problem with these supplements is vitamins in pill form are often synthetic versions. If you have been to your doctor and you have a vitamin deficiency (most people are only deficient in one or two, not several vitamins), absolutely you can supplement that one vitamin with a pill form. But when they are grouped together, it is mainly synthetic, which your body has a hard time absorbing anyways, and your body won’t absorb all of the vitamins together. Some vitamins are water soluble, and some are fat soluble. Vitamins A, D, E, and K need fat to be absorbed, so if you are taking that multivitamin without having eaten any fat, you are not going to absorb any of it. It can be a huge waste of money. When it comes to vitamins and minerals, you are going to have to pay a good amount for the real stuff. If you are buying cheap multivitamins from a regular grocery store, chances are you are not doing anything productive for your body. If you think you are deficient in a vitamin or mineral, I would absolutely encourage you to get a blood test done to find out. Too many people diagnose themselves with Google, then waste money on products that aren’t going to help, when they may not even be deficient in the first place.
If you try to take a shortcut and limit vegetable intake and replace it with a pill or drink form, you can’t guarantee what your body will absorb and you are also cutting out other benefits such as fiber. If your diet includes a variety of vegetables and fruit, you’ll get plenty of vitamins that will cover the ice cream and pizza you eat on the weekends.
Myth #4- I must eat 5-6 small meals a day to boost my metabolism.
Everyone’s metabolism is different, and it’s true that we need to fuel it to keep it working properly. Everyone has a metabolic rate (the number of calories they burn a day). Consuming too few calories or too many calories can wreak havoc on the metabolism, causing it to hold onto fat. If someone has a healthy amount of calories every single day based on what their metabolic rate is, it does not matter if they eat 6 times a day or 2 times a day. The consistent number of calories over time helps create a healthy metabolism, not the number of times they eat a day. For example, someone could see the same benefits eating 5 small meals a day as someone who practices intermittent fasting and eats 2 meals a day, as long as they both are eating within their calorie allotment consistently. In fact, giving your gut a break from digesting by fasting every once in a while is actually very healthy for the body.
Myth #5- Foods labeled “natural” are healthier.
We often buy foods labeled as “natural” because we’re told through advertising that it’s healthier. Unfortunately, the FDA has yet to set a definition that food companies have to abide by in order to use the label. The FDA says that “natural” products cannot have pesticides, artificial colors or ingredients, or GMOs. However, buying all natural products can sometimes be a waste of money for two reasons.
First, even though the FDA has a loose rule surrounding the natural label, they do not enforce it. For example, Del Monte Natural Fruits contain artificial preservatives made from industrial chemicals. And when Tyson was asked if the corn sweeteners (dextrose and maltodextrin) they used in their Grilled and Ready Frozen Chicken Strips was GMO free corn, they responded “the government’s natural requirements do not address GMO.” But Tyson advertises that their product is “all natural.” And second, they do not apply this rule to food production methods. So a food can be grown with pesticides, and still be labeled as “natural”
Organic foods fall into this unregulated advertising category as well. Only 70% of the food or food ingredients have to be organic for the company to apply an “Organic” label. The words “organic” or “natural” are mainly used to boost sales, so researching the source of your products is important if you really desire to have healthier food products.