By Guest Blogger:
Whether it’s the latest magazine article telling you to drink only cucumber water for a week, or the latest Canada Food guide telling you to limit your consumption of eggs, mainstream nutritional information seems to be filled with craziness, contradictions, and confusion. Trends seem to pop up regularly, only to disappear and pop up again a few years later. Ironically, certain unfounded nonsense does the rounds as true fact, and seems to stick as general knowledge, despite scientific advancements to the contrary. Below you’ll find five of the latest and greatest nutritional myths that we at Sports Science Strength & Conditioning want you to know about, and help us to debunk the old fashioned way – using good old scientific evidence.
#1 - A Low Fat Diet = A Low Fat You
It seems logical to believe that if you eat less fat, you will therefore be less fat. Unfortunately, the logic is flawed. Many healthy foods are high in fat – olive oil, nuts, and avocados for example are two very high fat foods that should all be a part of a healthy diet. A 2013 study in Spain tracked the diets of over 7500 overweight participants over 5 years, creating three groups, two of which were high in fat with regular frequent servings of either olive oil or nuts. The third group was asked to avoid fat. The study found the people in the high fat diet groups actually lost a small but statistically significant amount of weight compared to the low fat diet group (Estruch et al, 2013). It’s important to realize that the total amount of calories you ingest has a much more influential effect on fat gain than the amount of actual fat in your diet.
#2 - Small Meals Throughout the Day Will Speed Up Your Metabolism
This is another one that seems to have stuck as if it’s a fact. There are numerous benefits to eating smaller meals more frequently, and for some it may even reduce overall hunger and lead to eating less in total – however it does not speed up your metabolism or make you burn calories faster. A 2010 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed this by splitting up 16 obese adults into two groups, placing dietary restrictions on both, with the only difference being that one group had to eat 6 or more meals per day, and other only 3 meals. Both groups lost a similar amount of body weight and fat mass (Cameron et al, 2010). Eating meals more frequently may work well for your digestive system or hunger control, but don’t expect it to speed up your metabolism.
#3 - The Cholesterol in Eggs Will Raise Your Risk of Heart Disease
Eggs and their yolks have been a source of contention in the nutrition community for decades, simply because they do contain cholesterol – especially the yolks. Most medical professionals and associations advise to limit your intake, especially if you are at risk for heart disease or diabetes. However, it is important to understand that cholesterol also comes in a good forms, and recent studies have shown not only that eggs contain the good type of cholesterol, but also that they do not have an effect on heart disease. A 2013 review of 17 different studies from around the world, which had a total of 263,938 participants, showed no link between egg consumption and heart disease in non-diabetic individuals (Rong et al, 2013). While diabetics and heart disease patients should always follow medical advice, remember that whole eggs are one of the healthiest foods on the planet, and pose no risk of heart disease to otherwise healthy individuals.
#4 -Cleanse Diets Will Detox Your Body
The only type of detox that is respected in the field of medicine is the medical treatment of people with life threatening drug addictions. Other than that, the body simply does not build up toxins that a healthy liver cannot excrete effectively. In fact, the word ‘detox’ has become synonymous with a marketing scam. Not one manufacturer of a ‘detoxifying’ supplement or shake will be able to tell you which toxins their product is meant to flush out, nor how it is meant to do it. Additionally there is simply no scientific evidence to back up the notion that any supplement can help the liver do its job of excreting toxins any better.
#5 - Intermittent Fasting is One of the Most Effective Ways to Lose Body Fat
Intermittent fasting is based upon the premise that if you restrict calories almost completely for 1-2 days per week, and eat regularly the other 5 days, you will lose fat faster than simply reducing your daily caloric intake. A 2010 study published in the International Journal of Obesity set out to test that premise by comparing two groups of over 100 overweight women, and restricting their diets either continuously for the first group, or intermittently for the second. They found that both methods worked equally as well (Harvie et al, 2010)! So if intermittent fasting is a form of dietary control that you might prefer (and your doctor approves), go ahead and give it a shot. However, keep in mind that the extreme nature of effectively starving yourself for 2 out of 7 days is potentially dangerous and wholly unnecessary from a fat loss perspective.
1. Cameron, J.D., Cyr, M.J., & Doucet, E. (2010). Increased meal frequency does not promote greater weight loss in subjects who were prescribed an 8-week equi-energetic energy-restricted diet. The British Journal of Nutrition, 103. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19943985
2. Estruch, R., Ross, E., Salas-Salvado, J., Covas, M., Pharm. D., Corella, D.,…Martinez-Gonzales, M.A. (2013). Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet. The New England Journal of Medicine, 368. Retreived from http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1200303#t=abstract
3. Harvie, M.N., Pegington, M., Mattson. M.P., Frystyk, J., Dillon. B., Evans, G.,…Howell, A. The effects of intermittent or continuous energy restriction on weight loss and metabolic disease risk markers: a randomised trial in young overweight women. The International Journal of Obesity, 35. Retreived from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3017674/
4. Rong, Y., Chen. L., Zhu, T., Yadong, S., Yu, M., Shan, Z.,…Liu, L. (2013). Egg consumption and risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMJ, 346. Retrieved from http://www.bmj.com/content/346/bmj.e8539