DFM Director of Trainer Education Mike Grillo Breaks 5 Common Myths About Food and How They Relate to Your Fitness Goals
While we could clearly make a list with way more than five, I figured we should just stick to the basic ones I hear year in and year out when dealing with the hordes of new clientele. The following 5 food myths are flat out lies or misconceptions and you need to seek other opinions if someone is spouting these off as common knowledge. Do some real research and always be skeptical of generalized nutritional tips. Like many things in the training world, there is a large grey area, and very little black and white.
- Carbs Make You Fat Likely made popular by certain “caveman” nutritional guidelines. Don’t get me wrong here, low carb diets can be an extremely effective tool in helping someone lose weight, but it ends there. Low carb diets can be detrimental to the majority of training protocols (strength, hypertrophy, CrossFit). So why are they so frequently recommended in the untrained or weight loss population? Well imagine if I told anyone to eat single ingredient foods, (therefore avoiding any processed carbs/foods) this would spur a reduction in total caloric consumption for the day, which should result in weight being lost over time. The majority of nutritional studies show low carb diets working for weight loss because a reduction in calories should result in weight lost. So why don’t carbs make you fat? Simple answer, over eating ANY Macronutrient will make you “fat”. In fact, carbs are our muscle tissues preferred form of energy and recovery. Simply put, without dietary carbs your performance/training/recovery will suffer and your body will make glucose (carbs) out of fat stores and amino acids anyway. Typically the more muscle mass one has the more carbs one should/could consume daily. Lastly, it has also been show that those on very low carbohydrate diets tend to have a higher reoccurrence of weight gain, and no one wants that.
- Too Much Protein is Bad For Your Kidneys So much misinformation out there about protein intake and how much is enough or dangerous. We could dive into a very lengthy article specifically about this and the byproducts created within protein metabolism (ammonia and urea), but we will do a quick synopsis. Supposedly in a high protein diet these byproducts will build up over time and cause kidney or liver damage. Well, what actually happens in healthy individuals is that the removal of these two byproducts is simply upregulated, an adaptation similar to any progressive adaptation. If you still question the safety of high protein diets go to www.pubmed.com and search “protein sparing diet and renal failure” and you will find a study that shows low protein diets in people near renal failure had higher mortality rates that those who had a high protein diet. Now I do think there is a useful intake or top “cap” to this. However, in healthy individuals there is no reason to worry.
- Low-Fat Foods Are Always a Better Choice Food marketing gurus figured this epic debacle out pretty quick. Make any food “low-fat” and market it with a fancy logo on the front usually accompanied by “new” and sell the hell out of it! The general public sees something is low fat and automatically assumes it’s healthier because it has fewer calories. Coupled with the fact that the product is now “low-fat”, most companies add sugar in to keep the taste. Unfortunately the majority of these products were junk to begin with so marking it as low-fat is essentially still selling you low-fat junk. In general, if you are eating high quality foods you will never have to go to the “low-fat” product. Plus by going low fat you could be missing out on many crucial fatty acids, which help aid in cell repair, growth and various immune responses.
- Don’t Eat Past 7PM…..or whatever time “they” say This one is accompanied by so much bro science: insulin like growth factor, growth hormone levels, anabolic, catabolic blah, blah, blah. Eating carbs or other foods past 7pm will not turn you into a Gremlin or make you fat. In fact “starving” yourself by not eating enough could have a detrimental return on fat storage. I believe this myth came into existence because so many of us like to snack on “bad” items late in the evening. Put me near Ice Cream around 9pm and its over! I digress. So, simply saying, “don’t eat those bad items” would have worked just as well here. Bottom line is you need to hit your macronutrient goals for the day regardless of when you eat.
- Eating More Frequently Boosts Your Metabolism This is a very common myth to hear spurted about by health “experts”. Tell you what, eat more food more often and tell me what happens in 3 months. You will gain weight, bottom line. This myth has taken good advice and simply blown it out of proportion. To capitalize on many factors it would be beneficial to eat a protein rich meal every 3-4 hours and I could make the argument that my “metabolism” may increase, because of proteins’ thermogenic effect and because you may be adding lean muscle mass by doing so. Yet, by no means is aimlessly eating more often going to boost my metabolism. If you asked me order of importance in nutrition, meal timing would be last. Improve Quality and Quantity first and then worry about fine tuning things with meal timing.