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Nutrition Series: Diet Myths and Truths

Apr 12, 2021

Diet Myth Busters

Last Tuesday, we had the second in a series of six Nutrition lectures, called the Nutrition Series. These lectures, hosted on Facebook Live, will run for the next 4 Tuesdays at 1 PM. If you’re more of an auditory learner, please head over to our Facebook page and check out the video on this subject from last Tuesday.

Today we’re going to talk about some myths that surround dieting and healthy eating. I will be sharing some of the myths I hear most frequently, but please feel free to add your own so we can discuss them! You can leave a comment here or contact us on our Facebook page, where you can watch the video!

#1 Myth: If you exercise, you can “get away” with eating more food.

Truth: That depends on your goals. If you are exercising to put yourself in a calorie deficit, eating more calories than you need will undo that effort. However, if your goal is to gain muscle, you do have to eat additional protein after your exercise. No matter who you are or what you do, your metabolism can only process a certain number of calories per meal and anything more than that gets stored as fat.

#2 Myth: To gain muscle, you must eat within your “Metabolic/Anabolic Window.”

Truth: This is a term used in the bodybuilding world to describe the 30 minute period after exercise. There is no scientific evidence to support the theory that 30 minutes is the magical number. However, you should make sure your body has fuel shortly after exercise. But the idea that you lose all your progress because you forgot your post workout meal and have to wait until you get home is just a myth. Eat a well rounded protein rich meal when you can.

#3 Myth: Vegetables are a free food. You can eat as much of them, and whenever without repercussion.

Truth: In truth ALL FOOD is calories, therefore everything needs to be “counted” as calories and not eaten with abandon. Too much of anything will eventually be detrimental and work against you. However, if you’re really hungry between meals, vegetables are a great snack as they are very nutrient dense (lots of nutrients) and not calorie dense (you have to eat a lot to consume a lot of calories).

#4 Myth: Eating fat makes you fat.

Truth: It isn’t that simple. Despite fat having more calories per gram than protein or carbohydrates, fat does not make you fat. Dietary fat and body fat are not the same bodily components. Fat is how our body stores excess calories. Excess dietary fat is stored as body fat, but so is excess carbohydrates and protein. Fat is an important part of any healthy and balanced diet, supplying you with energy and keeping you fuller longer. However, eating too much of anything will make you gain weight.

#5 Myth: Nuts and nut butters are a great source of protein.

Truth: Although there is protein within nuts and nut butters, they are both primarily derived of healthy fats and not consumed as a source of protein. Additionally, the protein in nuts in considered an incomplete protein because they do not have all the essential amino acids. If you have more questions about vegetarian and vegan protein, please make sure to tune in next week when we talk about Vegetarian Protein Sources!

#6 Myth: You have to consume fewer calories to lose weight.

Truth: This depends if you are already over-consuming. To lose body fat, you must take in the right balance of calories, and fewer than you expend, although this is truly a science and not so black & white. Learning how to properly balance your calories in and calories out is the right formula; not just eating less. If you drop this amount too low, you risk slowing your metabolism, which will undo your efforts and make it harder to lose weight.

#7 Myth: Fat turns into muscle when you lose weight through exercise.

Truth: Muscle and Fat are not the same type of tissue and therefore cannot be exchanged in this way. You cannot “turn your fat into muscle”. You can gain or lose muscle and/or gain or lose fat.

#8 Myth: If you exercise regularly, you shouldn’t have to care about what you eat.

Truth: This is not a reliable nor positive way to approach a lifestyle of health. Food is nourishment and fuels the muscles during exercise. We should all care about what we put in our bodies, no matter how our body looks or how we want it to look.

#9 Myth: Fasted Exercise is the best way to burn more stored body fat.

Truth: The rationale behind this myth is that forgoing food before exercise will force the body to burn more fat during exercise. You will, however, lose a small amount of muscle with this approach. If fat loss is a major goal of yours, experiment with fasted (usually morning, just after waking) cardio and see if you like it. You will still have success if you do your cardio later in the day. It is never, for any reason, a good idea to do a strength workout fasted.

#10 Myth: “_____” will make you bulky. (Eating protein, weight lifting, etc)

Truth: Let me be clear that nothing will make you gain muscle unexpectedly. To put on a large amount of muscle, you have to train a very specific way: your reps, sets, time under tension, the lifts that you do, your rest time… it all matters. You also have to dedicate a lot of time to this effort. You will not get bulky from cross training and weight lifting twice a week at Fitness Together. You will not get bulky from eating a protein shake. Take it from someone who trained for a bodybuilding competition…. You will never get bulky by accident.

#11 Myth: To lose fat, you have to do a lot of cardio.

Truth: While it is true that fat loss requires more calories going out (through exercise) than going in (through eating), it sometimes isn’t that simple. Most people find that they have the best and fastest results through a combination of cardiovascular work and resistance training. The reasoning behind this is due to EPOC: Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption, also called “The Afterburn Effect”. To simplify, when you exercise, your body is burning calories at a faster rate than if you were sitting down. But if that exercise is cardiovascular, for example running, when that run finishes and your body takes a few minutes to return to resting heart rate, your body is back to burning it’s usual resting amount. However, with strength training, your body takes far longer to go back to “resting”. You’ve essentially caused small amounts of damage to your muscles, and your body has to spend calories to repair them. This causes your body to work at a higher rate for longer after exercise, which burns more calories. So, while at the end of the day, if fat loss is your goal, you want to burn more calories than you take in, the type of exercise you’re doing matters.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you learned something! If you have your own question or myth to share, please do!

And please remember that if you’re interested in signing up for our Balanced Habits Nutrition program, you’re eligible for 25% off your program, just leave a comment on our Facebook page letting us know you watched this program and you’d like to sign up!

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