Nutrition Myths, Busted!

Nutrition Myths & Facts

Myth:

A simple calorie deficit is all it takes for successful weight loss.

Fact:

A calorie deficit is absolutely needed by successful weight loss, but looking at the big picture is even more important. Things like hormonal imbalances, certain medications, environmental factors, and genetics all play a pivotal role, and all need to be considered, when considering weight loss and management.

Myth:

All processed food is unhealthy and harmful.

Fact:

Not all processed foods are created equal. Believe it or not, the term “processed” means changing any form of food from its original state from which it was produced. For example, fresh fruit and vegetables that have been washed and cut are processed. Other examples include, bagged spinach, jarred pasta sauce, yogurt, frozen produce, canned tuna, and so on. In the media, processed foods are always thought to be horrible for your health because everyone’s minds go straight towards microwavable dinners, frozen pizza, hot dogs, and boxed macaroni and cheese; however, without realizing it, we consume processed foods all of the time! And that is okay as long as it’s the food items that provide optimal health benefits such as fruits and vegetables. Avoiding highly processed foods such as those aforementioned is absolutely recommended as they are incredibly high in saturated fat, refined sugar, and sodium, all of which have known negative effects for overall health. It is important to know not to trust everything that is mentioned in the media, and this is one of those topics.

Myth:

Carbs are bad for you and make you gain weight.

Fact:

Carbohydrates are one of the most important macronutrients we can have in our diets. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose molecules after ingestion, and are the most readily available and usable form of energy for every single one of our body’s cells. Complex carbohydrates are found in fruits, starchy vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and some soy products. Although demonized in the media for being the sole cause of weight gain, carbohydrates are essential in a healthy, well-balanced diet when appropriate sources and amounts are chosen to consume. They are rich in soluble (promotes heart health) & insoluble (promotes gut health) fiber, along with vital vitamins and minerals. Overconsumption of carbohydrates, just like any other macronutrient (e.g., protein and fat), can lead to unwanted weight gain; however, when properly balanced in your diet, can contribute to a complete and healthful diet.

Myth:

Following a very-low-calorie diet is the best way to lose weight and keep it off.

Fact:

Following a very-low-calorie diet can indeed promote weight loss in the shorterm; however, this way of eating is not sustainable for the long term. When we consume entirely less than what our body needs to function properly, our metabolism and hunger hormones shift, which can lead to a reduction in our metabolic rate, an increase in our hunger hormone, ghrelin, and a decrease in our fullness hormone, leptin. This is a recipe for unsustainable weight loss habits that can promote weight and water retention. Studies have shown that following a very-low-calorie diet is rarely successful as adherence and compliance is hardly ever feasible in the long term. Consuming enough calories and energy that fits you and your body’s needs is incredibly crucial for weight loss and/or maintenance, especially if it’s a long term and permanent goal.

Myth:

Daily diets and nutritional habits are a simple, cookie-cutter approach.

Fact:

Simply put, nutrition is not a “one size fits all” approach. No two people are exactly alike. Everyone and everybody is different and requires unique and individualized nutrition care. What works for one person does not mean it could work for another. This misconception is readily utilized by the media and by some celebrities/influencers who promote fad diets, which are unsustainable and quite unrealistic. Working with professionals, such as those on your healthcare team, is crucial as these individuals can best guide you towards success from a health perspective.

Myth:

Counting calories and tracking your macronutrients is vital for weight loss, muscle building, and/or promoting overall health.

Fact:

“Calories in versus calories out” is an outdated way of comprehending how we can manage our weight and health. A realistic and sustainable calorie deficit is needed for weight loss as well as understanding your personal and individualized calorie and macronutrients recommendations; however, counting every single calorie and/or weighing every gram of food you put in your body can lead to unhealthy habits and obsession. When we obsess over calories and specific macronutrient amounts, we can lose sight of why we eat in the first place: to live, thrive, and to nourish our bodies. Obsession can lead towards disordered eating patterns, which can have not only negative physical consequences, but negative mental consequences as well.

Myth:

Following a gluten-free diet is healthier for you and can help with weight loss.

Fact:

Following a gluten-free diet is permissible and recommended for individuals with diagnosed celiac disease (autoimmune disease characterized by a gluten allergy that affects the lining of the small intestine) or who have a known gluten-intolerance/sensitivity. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley foods/beverages. Gluten-free products are not healthier than gluten-containing foods simply because they do not contain this protein. Gluten-based food such as 100% whole wheat products are incredibly fiber-rich, which promote heart and gut health. Gluten-free foods can also lack vital nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals when compared to their alternatives. Gluten-free foods can range from an orange to a gluten-free piece of cake. Both gluten-free, yet entirely different nutrient profiles. Those who follow a gluten-free diet may opt for more of a whole-food approach in addition to being mindful of their carbohydrate intake, which is always recommended for general health optimization. So, by following this approach, weight loss and health optimization can of course result; however, following a gluten-free diet is only recommended for those with celiac disease or those with an intolerance/sensitivity. Can you follow one anyways? Of course! Is following a gluten-free diet the key to weight loss? No evidence! The goal should be to eat foods that work for you and your individual body, despite what you may hear in the media.

Myth:

Ketogenic diets are useful for long term weight loss.

Fact:

Ketogenic (“keto”) diets were originally developed for children with epilepsy due to the diet’s neurotransmitter production properties, not for weight loss. The keto diet focuses on high fat, moderate-to-high protein, and low- or extremely-low carbohydrate intake. The diet does not emphasis or recommend what forms/sources of fat and protein are recommended, but plays a huge emphasis on carbohydrates being the main driving force to weight gain. In the shorterm, keto-based diets can absolutely promote weight loss; however, the same is not necessarily true for the long term. When we consume carbohydrates, our bodies break the nutrients down into glucose molecules which are readily utilized for energy and are stored in our muscle and liver cells as glycogen. When we restrict carbohydrate intake, our body’s response is to pull on those glycogen stores to be converted into glucose through a process called glycogenolysis. For every gram of glycogen that is stored in our muscles and liver, 3-4 grams of water is also stored. So as these reserves are pulled out, so is water. The initial, and quick, weight loss that people tend to see with following a low- or very-low carbohydrate diet is simply water weight. Due to the fact that restricting carbohydrates to such a small and specific percentage in an individual’s daily calorie needs can be both difficult and frustrating, this diet is notorious for being both unrealistic and unsustainable in the long term.

Myth:

Foods that contain fat drive weight gain and should be avoided.

Fact:

Foods that contain fat are not all created equal. There are numerous different forms of dietary fat that range from monounsaturated fat to trans fat. “Dietary fat”, like many other nutrition-related topics, are demonized in the media and are always misconstrued as a driving force to weight gain. Foods high in trans and/or saturated fat such as highly processed food (e.g., TV dinner, frozen pizza, hot dogs), butter and stick margarine, fried/fast food (e.g., fast food hamburger, fried chicken), certain meat products (e.g., red meat, pork), full-fat dairy (e.g., whole milk), baked goods (e.g., donuts, cookies), coconut oil, and so on, are amongst the leading causes for heart-related illness/diseases, abnormal cholesterol/lipid panels, as well as developing other diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Foods high in unsaturated (e.g., monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) fat are rich in omega-3 (e.g., olive oil, flaxseeds, walnuts) and omega-6 (e.g., soybean oil, sunflower oil, corn oil) fatty acids, when in ratio, have wonderful heart, hair, skin, nail, and cognitive benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids in particular have known lipid-altering effects including increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol, lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, lowering total cholesterol, and optimizing triglyceride levels. It is important to note that consuming healthy fats in the form of mainly omega-6s with little-to-no omega-3s has been known to be pro-inflammatory, so consuming a well-balanced diet is key.

Myth:

Taking a shot of apple cider vinegar will help promote weight loss and detox my body.

Fact:

How many nutritional supplements, drinks, and/or gummies do you see on the shelf or in the media that advertises apple cider vinegar for its weight loss and detoxifying properties? Probably more than a few. Apple cider vinegar is essentially fermented apple juice that has been treated with yeast and bacteria. Some research suggests that when consumed prior to a carbohydrate-rich meal, apple cider vinegar can reduce the rise in blood glucose. Other researchers have found that it can be beneficial for heartburn and can help fuel our guts with healthy, “good” bacteria that is necessary for a well-balanced gut microbiome. The most common misconception that the media has construed is that it promotes weight loss, especially when consumed as a straight shot. Consuming any type of vinegar without proper dilution is incredibly detrimental to your teeth enamel let alone your esophageal lining. In regard to weight loss, scientific evidence is seriously lacking. In regard to detoxification, that’s what your liver and kidneys are for. Controlling the amount of toxins you put into your body is one way to detoxify yourself, such as reducing alcohol consumption, pesticide exposure, and limiting smoking. If consuming apple cider vinegar is of interest to help control blood glucose levels, heartburn, and/or to promote “good” bacteria in your gut, always dilute it. Consuming 1 tablespoon should be diluted with 1 cup of water. Or, combine it with olive oil and enjoy it over a delicious salad!

Learn more at R3 Health in West and North Palm Beach, FL! Contact us today by calling 561-677-2844!

Myth:

A simple calorie deficit is all it takes for successful weight loss.

Fact:

A calorie deficit is absolutely needed by successful weight loss, but looking at the big picture is even more important. Things like hormonal imbalances, certain medications, environmental factors, and genetics all play a pivotal role, and all need to be considered, when considering weight loss and management.

Myth:

All processed food is unhealthy and harmful.

Fact:

Not all processed foods are created equal. Believe it or not, the term “processed” means changing any form of food from its original state from which it was produced. For example, fresh fruit and vegetables that have been washed and cut are processed. Other examples include, bagged spinach, jarred pasta sauce, yogurt, frozen produce, canned tuna, and so on. In the media, processed foods are always thought to be horrible for your health because everyone’s minds go straight towards microwavable dinners, frozen pizza, hot dogs, and boxed macaroni and cheese; however, without realizing it, we consume processed foods all of the time! And that is okay as long as it’s the food items that provide optimal health benefits such as fruits and vegetables. Avoiding highly processed foods such as those aforementioned is absolutely recommended as they are incredibly high in saturated fat, refined sugar, and sodium, all of which have known negative effects for overall health. It is important to know not to trust everything that is mentioned in the media, and this is one of those topics.

Myth:

Carbs are bad for you and make you gain weight.

Fact:

Carbohydrates are one of the most important macronutrients we can have in our diets. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose molecules after ingestion, and are the most readily available and usable form of energy for every single one of our body’s cells. Complex carbohydrates are found in fruits, starchy vegetables, grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and some soy products. Although demonized in the media for being the sole cause of weight gain, carbohydrates are essential in a healthy, well-balanced diet when appropriate sources and amounts are chosen to consume. They are rich in soluble (promotes heart health) & insoluble (promotes gut health) fiber, along with vital vitamins and minerals. Overconsumption of carbohydrates, just like any other macronutrient (e.g., protein and fat), can lead to unwanted weight gain; however, when properly balanced in your diet, can contribute to a complete and healthful diet.

Myth:

Following a very-low-calorie diet is the best way to lose weight and keep it off.

Fact:

Following a very-low-calorie diet can indeed promote weight loss in the shorterm; however, this way of eating is not sustainable for the long term. When we consume entirely less than what our body needs to function properly, our metabolism and hunger hormones shift, which can lead to a reduction in our metabolic rate, an increase in our hunger hormone, ghrelin, and a decrease in our fullness hormone, leptin. This is a recipe for unsustainable weight loss habits that can promote weight and water retention. Studies have shown that following a very-low-calorie diet is rarely successful as adherence and compliance is hardly ever feasible in the long term. Consuming enough calories and energy that fits you and your body’s needs is incredibly crucial for weight loss and/or maintenance, especially if it’s a long term and permanent goal.

Myth:

Daily diets and nutritional habits are a simple, cookie-cutter approach.

Fact:

Simply put, nutrition is not a “one size fits all” approach. No two people are exactly alike. Everyone and everybody is different and requires unique and individualized nutrition care. What works for one person does not mean it could work for another. This misconception is readily utilized by the media and by some celebrities/influencers who promote fad diets, which are unsustainable and quite unrealistic. Working with professionals, such as those on your healthcare team, is crucial as these individuals can best guide you towards success from a health perspective.

Myth:

Counting calories and tracking your macronutrients is vital for weight loss, muscle building, and/or promoting overall health.

Fact:

“Calories in versus calories out” is an outdated way of comprehending how we can manage our weight and health. A realistic and sustainable calorie deficit is needed for weight loss as well as understanding your personal and individualized calorie and macronutrients recommendations; however, counting every single calorie and/or weighing every gram of food you put in your body can lead to unhealthy habits and obsession. When we obsess over calories and specific macronutrient amounts, we can lose sight of why we eat in the first place: to live, thrive, and to nourish our bodies. Obsession can lead towards disordered eating patterns, which can have not only negative physical consequences, but negative mental consequences as well.

Myth:

Following a gluten-free diet is healthier for you and can help with weight loss.

Fact:

Following a gluten-free diet is permissible and recommended for individuals with diagnosed celiac disease (autoimmune disease characterized by a gluten allergy that affects the lining of the small intestine) or who have a known gluten-intolerance/sensitivity. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley foods/beverages. Gluten-free products are not healthier than gluten-containing foods simply because they do not contain this protein. Gluten-based food such as 100% whole wheat products are incredibly fiber-rich, which promote heart and gut health. Gluten-free foods can also lack vital nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals when compared to their alternatives. Gluten-free foods can range from an orange to a gluten-free piece of cake. Both gluten-free, yet entirely different nutrient profiles. Those who follow a gluten-free diet may opt for more of a whole-food approach in addition to being mindful of their carbohydrate intake, which is always recommended for general health optimization. So, by following this approach, weight loss and health optimization can of course result; however, following a gluten-free diet is only recommended for those with celiac disease or those with an intolerance/sensitivity. Can you follow one anyways? Of course! Is following a gluten-free diet the key to weight loss? No evidence! The goal should be to eat foods that work for you and your individual body, despite what you may hear in the media.

Myth:

Ketogenic diets are useful for long term weight loss.

Fact:

Ketogenic (“keto”) diets were originally developed for children with epilepsy due to the diet’s neurotransmitter production properties, not for weight loss. The keto diet focuses on high fat, moderate-to-high protein, and low- or extremely-low carbohydrate intake. The diet does not emphasis or recommend what forms/sources of fat and protein are recommended, but plays a huge emphasis on carbohydrates being the main driving force to weight gain. In the shorterm, keto-based diets can absolutely promote weight loss; however, the same is not necessarily true for the long term. When we consume carbohydrates, our bodies break the nutrients down into glucose molecules which are readily utilized for energy and are stored in our muscle and liver cells as glycogen. When we restrict carbohydrate intake, our body’s response is to pull on those glycogen stores to be converted into glucose through a process called glycogenolysis. For every gram of glycogen that is stored in our muscles and liver, 3-4 grams of water is also stored. So as these reserves are pulled out, so is water. The initial, and quick, weight loss that people tend to see with following a low- or very-low carbohydrate diet is simply water weight. Due to the fact that restricting carbohydrates to such a small and specific percentage in an individual’s daily calorie needs can be both difficult and frustrating, this diet is notorious for being both unrealistic and unsustainable in the long term.

Myth:

Foods that contain fat drive weight gain and should be avoided.

Fact:

Foods that contain fat are not all created equal. There are numerous different forms of dietary fat that range from monounsaturated fat to trans fat. “Dietary fat”, like many other nutrition-related topics, are demonized in the media and are always misconstrued as a driving force to weight gain. Foods high in trans and/or saturated fat such as highly processed food (e.g., TV dinner, frozen pizza, hot dogs), butter and stick margarine, fried/fast food (e.g., fast food hamburger, fried chicken), certain meat products (e.g., red meat, pork), full-fat dairy (e.g., whole milk), baked goods (e.g., donuts, cookies), coconut oil, and so on, are amongst the leading causes for heart-related illness/diseases, abnormal cholesterol/lipid panels, as well as developing other diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Foods high in unsaturated (e.g., monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) fat are rich in omega-3 (e.g., olive oil, flaxseeds, walnuts) and omega-6 (e.g., soybean oil, sunflower oil, corn oil) fatty acids, when in ratio, have wonderful heart, hair, skin, nail, and cognitive benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids in particular have known lipid-altering effects including increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol, lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, lowering total cholesterol, and optimizing triglyceride levels. It is important to note that consuming healthy fats in the form of mainly omega-6s with little-to-no omega-3s has been known to be pro-inflammatory, so consuming a well-balanced diet is key.

Myth:

Taking a shot of apple cider vinegar will help promote weight loss and detox my body.

Fact:

How many nutritional supplements, drinks, and/or gummies do you see on the shelf or in the media that advertises apple cider vinegar for its weight loss and detoxifying properties? Probably more than a few. Apple cider vinegar is essentially fermented apple juice that has been treated with yeast and bacteria. Some research suggests that when consumed prior to a carbohydrate-rich meal, apple cider vinegar can reduce the rise in blood glucose. Other researchers have found that it can be beneficial for heartburn and can help fuel our guts with healthy, “good” bacteria that is necessary for a well-balanced gut microbiome. The most common misconception that the media has construed is that it promotes weight loss, especially when consumed as a straight shot. Consuming any type of vinegar without proper dilution is incredibly detrimental to your teeth enamel let alone your esophageal lining. In regard to weight loss, scientific evidence is seriously lacking. In regard to detoxification, that’s what your liver and kidneys are for. Controlling the amount of toxins you put into your body is one way to detoxify yourself, such as reducing alcohol consumption, pesticide exposure, and limiting smoking. If consuming apple cider vinegar is of interest to help control blood glucose levels, heartburn, and/or to promote “good” bacteria in your gut, always dilute it. Consuming 1 tablespoon should be diluted with 1 cup of water. Or, combine it with olive oil and enjoy it over a delicious salad!