In the world we live in, we are constantly bombarded with conflicting messages from every angle, telling us what is ‘healthy’ and what isn’t. So today my mission is to help clear up some of the confusion that advertising and extreme dieting, have caused us very puzzled consumers to believe! Today, we are busting myths!
MYTH #1: Carbs (carbohydrates) are Bad for You
There are two types of carbohydrates, ‘simple carbohydrates’ and ‘complex carbohydrates’. Simple carbs are those foods which give you a quick blood-glucose (sugar) spike, for immediate and rapid energy eg fruit juice, lollies, sugar etc. Complex carbs are those that cause a gradual and sustained increase in blood-glucose levels, for longer lasting energy eg rolled oats, sweet potato, and lentils.
In our body, carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars such as glucose. When we exercise, our rate of glucose expenditure increases (because glucose is our body’s number one source of energy), and the way we replace these stores is through our food.
When we restrict carbohydrate intake, our bodies turn to burning ‘fats’ to create energy. This is sustainable for the very short term; however, the current literature is unclear of how beneficial it is for the longer term, as the rate of converting fat into useable energy is much slower than the process of using glucose for energy.
While the fitness industry generally fears carbohydrates because they are believed to cause weight-gain, a large body of evidence suggests that diets including low-GI carbohydrates (eg legumes and whole-grains) not only produce greater long-term weight-loss than “high fat, low carb diets”, but also that they may positively impact diabetes, and cardiovascular disease (Brand-Miller et al. 2008).
Therefore, a balanced diet including adequate carbohydrates – can lead to sustained long-term weight-loss and other health benefits! Woopie! Bye bye carb-depleted mood swings!
MYTH #2: All Salads are Healthy
While we know the classic “I’ll just get a salad”, to be the healthy persons’ lunchtime specialty, what you may not realise is that in fact, they could actually be eating far more calories than what they bargained for. Many salad dressings and toppings such as Caesar dressing, and croutons are high in calories and saturated fats (the bad guys).
So, how do you know if your salad is actually healthy? It’s easy! All you have to do is look for the rainbow. The best salads out there have balance between carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. They contain a large variety of different coloured vegetables, grains (eg brown rice and quinoa), small amounts of lean protein such as chicken, fish and lamb, as well as monounsaturated fats such as avocado, nuts and extra virgin olive oil.
These salads are brilliant as they are packed full of nutrients, quality proteins, low-GI carbohydrates, and healthy fats that your body is sure to love. To help you out, I’ve included my absolutely favourite salad dressing as one of this weeks’ recipes!
MYTH #3: Skipping Meals Helps You Lose Weight
Low-calorie diets have been in circulation for many years now, receiving attention from all angles on tv, social media, advertisements and so on, and unless you have had your head buried in the sand – you will have heard of the incredible transformations that seem to happen overnight, when people adopt a low-calorie diet. I am a woman of science however, and these results seem too good to be true.
Years of research into low-calorie diets report amazing short-term, fast results when it comes to losing weight. This isn’t a surprise because we all know that if you eat less…you tend to lose weight pretty damn fast. However, the long-term health impacts are not as glamorous.
The findings generally support that the more you reduce your calorie intake, the more likely it is that your body will do the opposite of what you are aiming for. When you severely reduce the amount of food you consume, your metabolism slows, in order to compensate for a lack of calories, making it harder to lose weight (Horne, et al. 2015).
My suggestion is to do your research and speak to your dietician or GP before cutting calories, because there is definitely a right and a wrong way to do so. I think it is also important to remember that food isn’t the enemy. Food is what fuels your body to perform at its peak, so providing it with the right amount of qualityfood is more likely to produce long-term health benefits.
MYTH #4: To Build Muscle, You Need Protein Within 30mins of Working Out
Now this one is my favourite, because it’s bound to get people talking! The common theory that you must ingest protein sources within 30mins post-workout is absolutely BUSTED! For many years it has been one of the best-selling points for supplement companies to reel in their customers. These companies promote the idea that unless we consume protein rich sources straight after our workouts, we reduce our body’s ability to build muscle. Well, I’m here to tell you otherwise!
Evidence suggests that the timing of protein refuelling makes absolutely no difference to muscle hypertrophy (muscle building), and little to no difference in rates of recovery. Research shows that so long as you are consuming an adequate amount of protein to allow the body to repair itself each day, you will gain the same amount of muscle as you would if you consumed protein immediately following exercise (Schoenfeld, et al. 2013).
I do however want to acknowledge that there is absolutely no harm in having a protein shake or snack before or after a workout. It is incredibly important to refuel the body post-workout, BUT if you’re someone who gets your knickers in a knot when you forget your protein shaker, don’t stress! You won’t miss out on those crucial gains!
MYTH #5: Supplements are the Same as Real Food
If you know me, you know how passionate I am about eating foods that are rich in the nutrients our bodies need to not only survive, but thrive! And personally, I feel that in today’s society, we overlook and underestimate the power that the food we consume, has on our health.
Food is an incredibly complex mix of macronutrients, micronutrients, and many other substances. The nutrients we require, are most potent and beneficial in their natural state. As well as this, many non-essential but beneficial nutrients are found in the foods we consume, but not in supplements.
Supplements are extremely beneficial when used as treatment for dietary deficiencies that have been identified and recommended by healthcare professionals. Today however, the supplements industry is a multi-billion-dollar industry, and there doesn’t seem to be a ceiling anywhere in sight. So, remember not to believe everything you hear or read about ‘what YOU need’ and what is ‘most beneficial for YOU’. Everyone is different, and the term ‘YOU’ in both these cases is incredibly generalised. If you have any concerns, or wish to know more about the foods you should be eating, and potential supplements that could help you – see your local dietician.
So there you have it! 5 Myths you can now go impressing your friends with, AND some of the science that backs them up too.
See you again in a couple of weeks!
Disclaimer: This information is for the GENERAL public, not those with chronic illnesses. This information has been sourced from authorised journal publications and literature reviews, researched by people WAYYYY above my pay grade. I am not a dietician, physician or nutritionist, nor do I claim to be. If you are concerned about your diet, or your physical health, please go and speak to your dietician or doctor.