The Top 5 Biggest Nutrition Myths

illume - Here are 5 of the biggest myths related to nutrition, and why these antiquated beliefs need to be put to rest.

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1. ‘Calories in, calories out’ is all that matters when it comes to weight loss

Though creating a calorie deficit by burning more energy than you take in is the most important factor when it comes to weight loss, it’s not the only thing that matters.

Relying solely on calorie intake doesn’t account for the large number of variables that may prevent someone from losing weight, even when on a very low calorie diet.

For example, hormonal imbalances, health conditions like hypothyroidism, metabolic adaptations, the use of certain medications, and genetics are just some of the factors that may make weight loss harder for some people, even when they’re on a strict diet.

This concept also fails to emphasize the importance of sustainability and diet quality for weight loss. Those following the “calories in, calories out” method typically concentrate solely on the calorie value of foods, not their nutrient value.

This can lead to choosing low calorie, nutrient-poor foods like rice cakes and egg whites over higher calorie, nutrient-dense foods like avocados and whole eggs, which isn’t the best for overall health.

The Top 5 Biggest Nutrition Myths

2. High fat foods are unhealthy

Though this antiquated and incorrect theory is slowly being put to rest, many people still fear high fat foods and follow low fat diets in the hopes that cutting their fat intake will benefit their overall health.

Dietary fat is essential for optimal health. Plus, low fat diets have been linked to a greater risk of health issues, including metabolic syndrome, and may lead to an increase in insulin resistance and triglyceride levels, which are known risk factors for heart disease).

What’s more, diets that are higher in fat have been proven just as effective — or even more so — than low fat diets when it comes to encouraging weight loss.

Of course, extremes in either direction, whether it be a very low fat or very high fat diet, may harm your health, especially when diet quality is poor.

3. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day

While it was once thought that eating breakfast was one of the most important factors in setting yourself up for a healthy day, research has shown that this might not be the case for most adults.

For instance, research indicates that forgoing breakfast may result in reduced calorie intake.

Moreover, partaking in intermittent fasting, during which breakfast is either skipped or consumed later in the day, has been linked to a plethora of benefits, including improved blood sugar control and reductions in inflammatory markers.

However, intermittent fasting can also be accomplished by consuming a regular breakfast then having your last meal earlier in the evening to maintain a fasting window of 14–16 hours.

Keep in mind that this does not apply to growing children and teens or those with increased nutrient needs, such as pregnant women and those with certain health conditions, as skipping meals may lead to negative health effects in these populations.

On the other hand, some evidence shows that eating breakfast and consuming more calories earlier in the day rather than at night, coupled with reduced meal frequency, may benefit health by reducing inflammation and body weight.

Regardless, if you enjoy breakfast, eat it. If you’re not a breakfast person, don’t feel the need to add it to your daily routine.

4. You need to eat small, frequent meals for optimal health

Eating small, frequent meals regularly throughout the day is a method used by many people to boost metabolism and weight loss.

However, if you are healthy, the frequency of your meals does not matter as long as you meet your energy needs.

That said, those with certain medical conditions, such as diabetes, coronary artery disease, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), as well as those who are pregnant, may benefit from eating more frequent meals.

5. Non-nutritive sweeteners are healthy

The rising interest in low calorie, low carb, sugar-free foods has led to an increase in products that contain non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS). While it’s clear that a diet high in added sugar significantly increases disease risk, intake of NNS can also lead to negative health outcomes.

For example, NNS intake may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes by leading to negative shifts in gut bacteria and promoting blood sugar dysregulation. What’s more, regular NNS intake is associated with overall unhealthy lifestyle patterns.

Keep in mind that research in this area is ongoing, and future high quality studies are needed to confirm these potential links.