Some of the most prolific myths in the fitness industry surround the topic of nutrition. Here are five of the wildest and longest and living nutrition falsehoods. Enjoy these creative interpretations of scientific principles and pass along the truth.
Fat makes you fat.
Dietary fat is not the same as body fat. True, dietary fats are energy-dense meaning they are higher in calories per gram than either protein or carbohydrates. However, fat is a necessary and healthy component to any balanced diet. Dietary fat should not be vilified as it is not responsible for weight gain alone.
Weight gain is the sum of several different habits (most generally). Habits such as a lack of physical activity and poor nutritional choices along with low quality sleep and a high-stress lifestyle can lead to weight gain. Consuming fats in the diet will not single-handedly lead to weight gain or poor health.
Further, not all fats are created equal. If consumption of any fat should be discouraged, it should be trans fats. Trans fats are man-made and chemically altered to enhance the shelf life of a number of products. These are typically noted as “partially hydrogenated” oils in the ingredients lists. Trans fats are known to increase blood cholesterol more than saturated fats.
Fortunately, since 2006, federal regulations have required the disclosure of trans fat content on food labels. In 2015, the FDA concluded that the major source of trans fat in foods – partially hydrogenated oils – are no longer “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use in human food sources. This is a win for the nutrition and fitness industries!
Help clients identify sources of mono and polyunsaturated fats to support their overall health and performance goals.
Carbs are the devil.
At some point along the historical timeline, all macronutrients have been degraded and berated for causing this or leading to that. Carbs are the most recently identified “bad” food. In the last decade, there’s been a surge of low-carb diet trends and propaganda.
Diets such as the Ketogenic diet (low-carb, high-fat, moderate protein) have a purpose for certain populations (potential benefits for diabetics, cancer patients and those with neurodegenerative disorders), but this type of diet is not necessary, healthy, or effective for every individual. However, the media storm can make practices such as this seem like they are useful for every client we have.
Like specific types of fats, carbohydrates are healthy for the body. In fact, they are the preferred fuel source by the body (for the brain, muscles, and red blood cells). Although some carbohydrates are better options than others, carbs should be a major component of our daily dietary habits.
To benefit your clients, help them select high-fiber and nutrient-dense sources of carbohydrates such as fruits, leafy greens, whole grains, and complex sources of starch such as root veggies.
Eat low-fat or fat-free to make a healthier choice.
When fat – an item that gives food flavor – is removed, something has to take its place. Often, this is additional sodium and/or sugar. While the calorie content may be less than the full-fat version, the quality of the food item is commonly sacrificed.
Consumers frequently believe that if a food is lower in calories, they can consume a greater amount, which can also lead to an overindulgence and negate the purpose of purchasing the lower calorie item.
When it comes to teaching clients about making a healthy choice, show them that sometimes choosing the full-fat version and eating a little less of it is the better choice.
Eggs are high in cholesterol and, therefore, bad.
Eggs are out of exile and have been for quite some time. Cholesterol, yes, if too high can cause adverse health effects.
Cholesterol, on the other hand, is necessary. It provides structure to cell membranes, aids in the development of estrogen and testosterone, and is the building block of bile acids necessary for fat digestion.
We need cholesterol. In previous iterations of dietary guidelines, cholesterol has been a concern. However, the most recent edition does not place a limitation on dietary cholesterol because it’s been found to have little impact on blood cholesterol levels. All evidence at this point notes that saturated and trans fat intake has a greater and more concerning impact than cholesterol.
Help your clients understand that consuming cholesterol isn’t a “bad” health practice. While there aren’t current limits on its consumption, clients should still be aware of cholesterol intake and avoid eating limitless amounts. Go ahead, welcome the egg back to the dinner table.
Healthy food is tasteless and bland.
Good food and food that is good for you are not mutually exclusive concepts. Some of the most flavorful foods are the healthiest. Brightly colored fruits, dark green veggies, lean proteins, nuts, whole grains, and legumes are all awesome food choices packed with nutrients, taste, and texture.
Offer to take your clients on a grocery store tour and assist them in finding the yummy stuff. If it’s within your scope of talents, perform a cooking demonstration and encourage clients to develop a flair for culinary arts.
How do you help your clients navigate the many myths of food and fitness?