7 Nutrition Myths Dietitians No Longer Believe
We learn a lot about nutrition as we grow up. We watch what our parents eat and we mimic them.
For many of us, families have passed down myths that are no longer believed by registered dietitians. It can be pretty hard to change a long-standing belief about something, but with science progressing, we are gaining a better understanding of how to exercise and eat.
People still believe that lifting weights cause women to "bulk up" and that eating fats make you fat.
Related - Top 10 Gym Myths That Never Die
The great thing about getting closer to your health goals is that it doesn't take a complete revamp of your lifestyle to make progress. If you eat out for every meal, taking time to cook some nutritious and hearty foods at home for a few meals can help save you money and make a positive change in your health.
So let's go over seven different nutrition myths that dietitians no longer believe. How many of these myths have you heard before?
7 Nutrition Myths
Myth 1 - The Timing of When You Eat Protein Doesn't Matter
For many of us, the thought that "as long as you eat enough protein, it doesn't matter when you eat it." Elizabeth Ward is a registered dietitian and she says "protein helps you feel fuller for longer, and eating the macro at regular intervals helps build muscle."
As science improves, we are able to test and find out what is best for our bodies. Ward mentions how recent scientific research changed her mind.
She recommends getting at least 20 grams of protein at every meal.
Myth 2 - Extremely Low-Fat Diets Lead to Weight Loss
Do you want to take a walk into history? If you want to trace where our fear of fats started, you could start at the U.S. Senate in July of 1976.
Senator George McGovern called a hearing to raise awareness to the link between diet and disease. There is an estimated that eight U.S. Senators died in office from heart disease between the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, it was known as the era where men would drop dead of heart attacks.
Science back then knew there was a link between our nutrition and disease, and they had evidence that foods like eggs and meat could raise LDL cholesterol. There were a lot of things scientists didn't understand yet.
If you do a little more digging, when the low-fat and no-fat foods came out, that's when obesity started to rise.
Lisa Young, PhD, RD, and author of "Finally Full, Finally Slim" mentions that as research has come along, she believes that a diet that includes moderate healthy fats — like avocado and nuts — can help with weight loss.
Fat, just like protein, keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Foods rich in nutritious fats are calorie dense, so be mindful of how much you consume.
For example, a one-ounce portion of nuts or 1/4 of an avocado is a healthy portion.
Myth 3 - A Calorie is a Calorie
Samantha Cassetty, RD, is a nutritionist based in New York City. She was in the "a calorie is a calorie" camp and believed "there are no bad foods."
If you ask her now, she would say "now I know that if you just look at the calories, you’re not getting the full picture or even the relevant information about the quality of the ingredient.”
She goes on to say that there are foods like sweetened drinks and refined grains that have been shown to have a negative impact on your health. Other foods with the same calorie levels can reduce inflammation, manage your appetite and weight, reduces cravings, and helps stabilize your blood sugar.
"At this point, I can’t suggest that all foods are of equivalent nutritional value, so I can’t say there are no bad foods. It just isn’t true,” Cassetty says.
Myth 4 - MSG is Bad for You
Ever hear of umami?
Pulling from Wikipedia, "People taste umami through taste receptors that typically respond to glutamate, which is widely present in meat broths and fermented products and commonly added to some foods in the form of monosodium glutamate (MSG)."
“Contrary to many people’s beliefs, MSG is on the FDA’s GRAS list for being considered safe. The consumer fears have come from weak research studies and media sensationalism,” says Jim White, RDN, owns Jim White Fitness and Nutrition Studios.
If you use MSG sparingly with less salt in your diet, you'll be able to improve the taste of your food and get the umami experience with lower total sodium levels.
Myth 5 - You Can Eat Whatever as Long as It Fits Your Macros
Artificial colors, flavors, and even glow-in-the-dark foods are popular.
As foods become more processed, they lose their nutrients and are stuffed with sugar. Jackie Newgent, RDN, is a culinary nutritionist and author of "The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook."
She recommends removing artificial colors and dyes from your diet, along with opting for more nutritious, whole foods.
“Research suggests possible behavioral concerns with consumption of these colors by kids," notes Newgent.
Myth 6 - Snacking Before You Go Out to Eat Helps You Eat Less
Simply put, we try to eat something before we go out so we don't eat too much. The thought behind this myth is solid, and I once subscribed to this myth.
I realized that the only difference that made for me is I wasn't starving before I got there. Instead, I would already have 500 calories and then order the biggest meal at the restaurant.
It just didn't work for me.
“After so many years in private practice, I have come to the conclusion that some people, no matter what, will still grab for the bread basket and choose higher-calorie entrees even when they have a snack,” says Keri Gans, RDN, certified yoga teacher and author of “The Small Change Diet.”
Unless you have the control to eat less when you go out to eat, skip the pre-game snack.
Myth 7 - Organic Produce is Healthier for You
Between the cost, convenience, and time it takes to prepare healthy foods, it's no wonder that 90% of Americans fail to meet the recommended daily intake of vegetables, and 85% fail to intake enough fruit.
“It’s more beneficial to eat any type of produce — conventional, organic, local, ugly — than to skip it completely,” explains Toby Amidor, RD, Wall Street Journal bestselling cookbook author of “Smart Meal Prep for Beginners” and “The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook.”