Nutrition: The biggest myths debunked

Written by Jennifer Smith

Nutrition is something we can all relate to. Independently of our eating style, we should always strive to improve our diet for the sake of our health. After all, we are what we eat. Whether people want to lose weight or build muscle, they are drowned in nutrition advice, most of which is contradictory, making it very confusing for them to decide when, what and how to eat. Many pieces of nutritional advice come from companies marketing their products to increase sales, hardwiring the wrong information into our brain. A simple trip down to the supermarket can leave even the healthiest person confused and questioning what they thought they knew. To clarify matters, the biggest nutrition myths that are currently confusing people are discussed and busted below.

Myth 1: Eating late at night will make you fat

False. Calories can’t tell the time. Calories are still calories whatever time you decide to consume them. Your body doesn’t have a set time when it stores calories as fat, but as soon as the calories consumed exceed those burnt, then excess calories are stored as reserve. People say “don’t eat after 8pm” but you should eat whenever necessary e.g. if you are genuinely hungry, but it just depends on what you eat. If you decide to snack on bars of chocolate and cakes after your evening meal, then you are likely to put on weight. If you do decide to eat after 8pm, the calories will stay in your body for longer as you are not as active during the night, but they will simply be used the next day for energy. If you are hungry after 8pm, eat a light snack to avoid gaining weight.

Myth 2: Eggs raise your cholesterol levels

False. The cholesterol found in eggs has little or no connection to the cholesterol in your body. Research has shown that the cholesterol found in animal based foods does not affect the cholesterol levels in your body. Your body produces its own cholesterol, meaning it doesn’t take it from other sources. If you have cut eggs out of your diet based on this myth, you should re-introduce them straight away. They are a rich source of minerals.

Myth 3: You should drink 8 glasses of water a day

Partially False. Even though this is the recommended daily water intake, your water intake depends on the activity you do that day and on your thirst. There is no need to measure how much water you drink: just listen to your body. Remember that food and drinks other than water also contribute to your daily water intake. Some of the most common water sources include milk, juices, fruit, pasta, rice as well as herbal infusions. Each day you lose water through breathing, sweating and going to the toilet. You can usually determine your body’s need for water by the colour of your urine. If its dark yellow, you definitely need to drink more water. You also need to drink more water when doing exercise. If you don’t, you are at risk of dehydration, which could affect your health.

Myth 4: Eating junk food reduces stress

False. However, most of us have experienced comfort eating at one point in life. When you’re feeling down or stressed, the easiest thing to do is reaching for your favourite chocolate bar, biscuits or packet of crisps. Research has shown that eating processed food when you’re stressed increases the likelihood of depression by 58% compared to eating healthy foods. Find a healthy snack you like, such as nuts, and snack on it when you’re stressed. Combine this with exercise and your stress levels are likely to reduce.

Myth 5: To build muscle mass you need to consume extra proteins

False. The muscle-building effects brought about by protein consumption peak when consuming around 20-30 grams of protein with some variations due to body size and muscular mass. If you consume proteins in excess, your body will need to work harder to get rid of them, and some may be stored as fat. So eating more than 20-30 grams of protein at once is pointless and might aggravate both liver and kidney damage. To build muscular mass, you need to do weight training, eat the right amount of calories and consume a good source of protein, you can’t just eat protein and hope to make gains without putting the hard work in.

Myth 6: Chocolate is bad for you

Partially False. Chocolate can be good for you, in moderation. Chocolate is made from cocoa which has been proven to increase blood flow and release feel-good endorphins in the body. It also contains some healthy fats. Chocolate contains a saturated fat called stearic acid, which raises the good cholesterol in your body. When eating chocolate, avoid milk chocolate as it contains large amounts of sugar. Instead, chose dark chocolate with high amounts of cocoa in it. It is much more healthy.

There are many nutrition tips out there, many of which are myths. Hopefully, I have clarified a few of them for you. What do you think of this article? Can you think of anymore nutrition myths? If so, Please let us know and we will discuss them. Most readers are now becoming aware of the ketogenic diet, which we suggest you read too.