The internet is an amazingly wild place. You can find an equal amount of arguments of why the new trend diet is both the best thing you can do AND the worst possible thing. Unfortunately, people are too good at the marketing game and will be able to “show” their new trend diet is working with the magic of testimonials, reviews, and networking.
What I am getting at is that there are some nutrition myths out there that are either wrong, dangerous or both. Here are a few of my favorite ones I wanted to put together to de-bunk some common beliefs when it comes to nutrition.
**Caveat: I am NOT a dietitian. I am a Certified Personal Trainer that holds a Sports Nutrition Specialist certification. I have worked as the owner and operator of Untamed Fitness and Martial Arts for the past 5 years, committed to improving people’s lives through building confidence and knowledge of the fitness and nutrition world. These are based on my best knowledge of this well-researched topic.
“Carbs are Bad”
Carbs get a bad rap nowadays. Eating carbs are automatically connected with weight gain. You know how after you eat a bowl of rice, you feel bloated? This is because carbs need to be stored in your body with extra water, making you retain water (Smith, 2018). An increase of retained water also means your weight increases! This is a totally natural and healthy process. However, all carbs are not the same. Complex carbs such as sweet potatoes, brown rice and oatmeal are slow digesting and therefore better for the stabilization of blood sugar levels. Simple carbs like white bread, chips, sugar, and candy break down fast in your body, causing a sugar spike and crash (Florida Health). Therefore, it is so important for you to eat the right type of carbs. After all, carbs are your body’s favorite form of energy!
Food is energy or your body to use. All food gets broken down into glycogen for energy and is stored in either your muscles or in your liver for quick access to energy. Fat is the more stable version called glucose and will still need to be processed and broken down into glucose in order to be used by your body (Definition: Glycogen (for Teens) – Nemours Kidshealth, n.d.). Once your body starts moving, the energy that is stored in your muscles is depleted first. Your body will then resort to pulling your “extra stored energy” from the liver (glucose), giving you that extra little boost to finish your workout, hike, etc. This is when that ‘second wind’ happens during a long hike or run. If you STILL need energy, your body pulls from its fat stores. After about an hour of exercise, your body starts turning to your fat stores to burn for energy (Family Health Team, 2020).
The Takeaway – Carbs are a necessary part of your life!
“The More Protein the Better!”
This is a tricky sentence. We live in a world that accentuates the importance of protein with every meal NO MATTER WHAT. It’s true that protein eaten with every meal will make sure you achieve the right amount of protein per day, but just like with carbs, the type of protein is important! Protein powders are a good last-minute resort for fueling your body, but should be avoided if it is not immediately before or after your workout. Protein drinks are NOT meal replacements, no matter what the marketing companies tell you. Protein drinks are chocked full of unnecessary sugars and chemicals, potentially stopping you from losing that last bit of weight.
For example, I had a client who was STUMPED as to why he stopped losing weight. He did everything right: worked out 5 days a week, ate right, etc… but couldn’t figure out for the life of him WHY NOTHING WAS CHANGING!
After looking over his daily nutrition breakdown, first question I asked him was, “Are you drinking your protein shakes with your workout?” He immediately replies, “No, I drink it instead of my lunch. I’m trying to build muscle, and you know what they say, ‘There’s no such thing as too much protein!’”. Don’t get me wrong, I love my protein shakes. HOWEVER, if you are super fit and having trouble losing that last 5-10 lbs, it’s probably because of the sugar in your protein drinks.
Recommended fix? Eat whole, organic chicken or turkey instead of a shake at least 90 minutes before your workout.
One last note on protein: If you eat too much protein, you WILL gain weight. It WILL turn into excess fat or (even worse) your body will get rid of it. So all that money that you spent on free-range organic chicken is just getting tossed in the garbage (more like toilet). Try to limit your consumption of protein to 30g of protein per meal, since this is the maximum amount your body can absorb at one time. If you want to eat more protein, add more meals to your day! This is why bodybuilders started eating 6 meals a day.
“Eating Fat Makes You Fat”
It would be so convenient if this were true. Fat in food comes down to the type of fat you want to eat (is anyone else seeing a trend here?). There are many types of fats, but generally they are broken down into good fats and bad fats. Fat has the densest number of calories per gram than any other macronutrient. It packs a whopping 9 calories per gram vs carbs and proteins which only have 4 calories per gram (Bachus, 2016)!
Body fat is the energy storage of ANY macronutrient eaten in excess. Read that again. Overeat on protein? Body fat. Overeat on sugar? Body fat. Overeat on steak? Body fat. Body fat is just how your body stores extra energy to be used later on. If you are gaining body fat, it means you are ingesting more calories than your body can burn in a day (Family Health Team, 2020). Just because you eat fat, doesn’t mean you get fat.
“I Heard Doing Cardio is the Only Way to Lose Weight”
Actually…no. While cardio is still a great workout to supplement your strength building lifts, it is not necessarily the best way to burn fat. Low impact, longer walks or jogs are better at burning calories than a short sprint. This is especially true for those of us that have already been working out for a few years – your body just doesn’t burn fat like it used to before you started a workout regimen. Cardio such as sprints and long runs are great for building cardiorespiratory endurance, meaning your body won’t need to work as hard to draw in oxygen. In the end, both cardio and weightlifting need to be utilized effectively in order to maximize weight loss.
“Dieting is the Only Way to Lose Weight”
Really not true! Weight loss comes from one thing- a calorie deficit. Whether that deficit comes from an increase of energy output (working out) or less fuel in the tank (dieting), the result is the same. Here’s the tricky thing though – your body is WAY smarter and efficient than you may think! Cutting too many calories will stop weight loss and cause your body to store much more energy as fat. How? Like this:
- You undereat in calories, causing your body to go into panic mode. I must survive! There’s clearly a food shortage!
- Your body starts getting rid of the biggest calorie burners in your body – your muscles. Do we really need all these leg muscles? They burn too many calories we already don’t have!
- Due to loss of muscle, your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) is now LOWER, meaning your body can operate without burning more calories. Ex. You used to burn 1500 calories a day just living your life, and now you only burn 1200 to conserve energy.
- You unknowingly eat the same amount of calories, not knowing you have less muscle mass, leading now to a surplus of calories! Ex. You now only burn 1200 calories, but are ingesting 1500, making those extra calories get stored as fat.
This is the vicious cycle of nutrition. Eat too little, lose muscle mass and gain fat. Eat too much, keep muscle mass and increase stores of fat. This is why it is SUPER important to know your body and work
with an expert when trying to lose weight. A decrease on the scale does not necessarily mean a decrease in fat!
Feel like this was helpful? Reach out to Amanda at email@example.com to set up a grocery store walk through!
Bachus, T. (2016, April 15). How to Determine the Best Macronutrient Ratio for Your Goals. ACE Fitness. https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/5904/how-to-determine-the-best-macronutrient-ratio-for-your-goals/
- Complex Vs Simple Carbs. (n.d.). Florida Health. Retrieved September 19, 2021, from http://collier.floridahealth.gov/programs-and-services/wellness-programs/healthy-communities/_documents/complexvssimplecarbohydrates.pdf
- Definition: Glycogen (for Teens) – Nemours Kidshealth. (n.d.). Nemours Children’s Health. Retrieved September 19, 2021, from https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/glycogen.html#:%7E:text=The%20body%20breaks%20down%20most,in%20the%20liver%20and%20muscles .
- Family Health Team. (2020, August 31). Where Does Body Fat Go When You Lose Weight? Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/where-does-body-fat-go-when-you-lose-weight/
- National Diabetes Prevention Program. (n.d.). Post-Core:Fats – Saturated, Unsaturated, and Trans Fat. CDC. Retrieved September 19, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention/pdf/posthandout_session2.pdf
- Smith, A. S. (2018, January 12). How to Lose Water Weight: 6 natural ways and prevention. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320603#ways-to-lose-water-weight
About the Author
Article written by Amanda Buckner, owner and operator of Untamed Fitness and Martial Arts. Amanda is a Certified Personal Trainer, Certified Sports Nutrition Specialist and Certified Postnatal/Prenatal Fitness Trainer. She has helped hundreds of people achieve their fitness goals by building strength and confidence through fitness and nutrition. Amanda is a US Navy veteran, mother of two, and professional Jiu Jitsu Grappler.