0004 - 3 nutrition myths debunked: diets, breakfast and calories
Updated: Sep 12, 2019
So much of the mainstream knowledge about nutrition is wrong or misleading that it is difficult to know where to start. Today, I will just focus on 3 very annoying myths.
1- Diets work
Well, they might... for a short period of time. You might have tried the low-fat diet, the replacement shake diet, the green smoothie diet, the I-am-going-to-starve-myself diet. Oh, and you have also swallowed magic fat-burning pills, invested in costly cosmetic treatments, wrapped your thighs in glad wrap or stinking algae, did marathons of exercise... but you probably noticed that nothing seems to work, especially over the long term.
What have you achieved? A flatter wallet instead of a flatter stomach. And so much hunger, bad mood, depleted energy, brain fog, digestive issues and even a few more kilos 3 months later.
So, let me put this straight. Stop dieting! Now!
Frequent dieting will lower your metabolic rate (think of it as your body shifting to a "low power" mode) and possibly result in vitamins and minerals deficiencies, among others. It will drain your willpower and it is just not fun.
So what do you do then if you want to shed a few kilos? We will cover this topic in many other blogs, but I can already give you a snippet: Stop eating processed food and start eating real nutritious wholefood. You know, like meat, fish, fruits and vegetables. Not something out of a packet full of sugar, unhealthy fats, preservatives and other nasties. And I promise, real wholefood can taste really good.
2- Cereals and OJ are the perfect healthy breakfast
We have heard this so many times - from all the ads on telly to the 5-star rating on the cereal packs, that it is hard to believe it is not true. The marketing agencies have done a great job!
Cereals and orange juice are packed with carbohydrates (a.k.a. "carbs") and sugar. They will give you a lot of energy quickly. Great! Except that you know what comes after the sugar rush? The sugar crash. 2 hours later, all your energy is gone and you are hungry again.
This is a topic that I will cover extensively in future blogs. Excess carbs will take your blood glucose levels on a roller-coaster. When you eat carbs, insulin kicks in, drives some of the excess blood glucose into your muscles (if you are active or exercise regularly) and the rest into your fat cells, after conversion into triglycerides (boooh!). Your blood glucose levels drop, and so does your energy. You are hungry again, have a little mid-morning sugary snack and here we go again: insulin kicks in, drives the excess glucose into your fat cells (your muscle stores are full now), your blood glucose levels drop... Roller-coaster!
The solution? I am sure you will love it. Swap cereals and OJ for eggs and avocado. And you can even add bacon! Or if you are in a hurry in the morning and are not hungry, just skip breakfast and have a nice nutritious lunch.
By the way, 2 other myths debunked here: it is not necessary to eat breakfast to survive (or be healthy) and eggs & bacon won't kill you (see further down).
3- A calorie is a calorie
Not true! Different foods have different impacts on our hunger and fullness, produce different responses from insulin and other hormones, from the brain reward system, cravings, the gut microbiome, the body's metabolic rate...
100 calories from a muffin, a potato, a piece of bread or a low-fat sweetened yogurt (all rich in carbs) are processed very differently from 100 calories of avocado and nuts (fats) or chicken (proteins). To keep it simple, carbs (and proteins to a lesser extent) raise insulin, which opens the cells to fat storage and results in cravings and hunger every few hours, whereas fats have little impact on insulin. If this was not bad enough, carbs and processed foods can be addictive and inflammatory.
This is why eating bread, potatoes, pizzas, chips, muffins, sweetened yogurts, cereals, ice cream, and generally anything processed or coming out of packet is a recipe for weight gain. On the other hand, eating meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, some fruits and a good amount of healthy fats (avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds and even good old butter) will optimise your body's natural physiology and help you stay lean, satisfied and healthy.
So, repeat after me:
foods high in carbs trigger insulin,
insulin put your body in a fat storage mode,
nourish your body with unprocessed lower-carb wholefoods.
There are many other misconceptions that I will cover in future blogs, but I will share a few more tips with you today:
Stop buying low-fat yogurts, milk, cheeses, ready-meals, cookies (well - just stop buying cookies)... Healthy fat from wholefood is good for you. Low fat means more sugar and fillers that will make you ... fat! Remember the roller-coaster story?
Eggs, butter, bacon (saturated fats and cholesterol) are not bad for you (in most cases, more to follow on this). Hard to believe, as this myth has been developed since the 50's and are now deeply ingrained in our minds. Your body needs cholesterol for the brain, the cells, to manufacture hormones... Dietary cholesterol does NOT cause cardio-vascular or heart diseases. The culprits are the carbs, the sugar, the bad seeds oil, the trans-fat, as well as inflammation, smoking, chronic stress...
Eating healthy is NOT too hard, too time-consuming, too expensive, too boring. It can be done even if you are super busy or eating out every day. Ever heard of limiting beliefs? Just try and see how it feels.
Whew! Enough ranting for today.
Knowledge is power. What will you do with what you have learned?
Leave a comment and tell me what you think.
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