In this months blog, our resident Personal Trainer, Lewis looks at 7 food myths and separates fact from fiction and how we can maintain a healthy diet.
1. Myth – Carbs are bad for you
Fact – It’s not the carbs that are bad, it depends on how they are processed. Starchy carbohydrates like pasta, bread, rice, potatoes, cereals and oats are an affordable and nutritionally valuable source of food if eaten in moderation.
The carbs themselves are not uniquely fattening but beware of starchy carbs that are ultra-processed like chips, crisps, ready meal pasta pots, sushi, granola, cereal bars, shop bought sandwiches and especially any box with cartoons on and as they will include added fats, salts and sugars that will lead to excessive caloric intake.
Carbohydrates are important for general gut health and digestive function as some contain soluble fibres. Some of the worlds longest living populations eat diets with plenty of high-carb plant foods.
2. Myth – Fats are also bad for you
Fact – Eating fat-rich foods as part of a healthy balanced diet does not lead to weight gain. Numerous studies that have shown that eating high fat foods including eggs, avocados, nuts and full fat dairy may help boost weight loss and feelings of fullness.
Cholesterol-rich foods are not unhealthy and packed with nutrients. Some are not so good, unfortunately these include some of our favourite foods like ice cream, fried foods and processed meats, but egg, shellfish, organ meats and full fat dairy are fine and packed with vital vitamins and minerals like Omega 3, vitamin A and B12.
Nutritious foods high in saturated fat like full fat yogurt, coconut, cheese can also definitely be included in a healthy well-rounded diet.
3. Myth – Breakfast is the most important meal of the day
Fact – It is not as important as it’s cracked up to be. People who eat breakfast do generally have other positive lifestyle habits that contribute to a healthier life, they are less likely to smoke, drink large quantities of alcohol and are more likely to exercise more and be at a healthier weight.
Eating breakfast does not boost your metabolism, it doesn’t matter when or how often you eat, it all boils down to total calories consumed per day, so skipping breakfast does not cause weight gain, if anything it saves you around 400 calories at least as even with a larger lunch you’ll not eat the calories you missed in the morning on top of your lunch.
Skipping breakfast is commonly used in intermittent fasting diets that have shown to help people lose and manage weight better but may not suit everyone. At the end of the day, it’s all down to personal preference and what works for you.
4. Myth – There is one perfect diet plan for everyone
Fact – Unfortunately there is no miracle diet out there that suits everyone and if anyone says that there is then they are most probably lying or mis-guided as everyone is unique and it’s not a case of cutting certain foods out or paying for supplements like pills or meal replacements shakes.
Highly restrictive fad diets are called yo-yo diets for a reason, you are more likely to regain weight and even put more back on as they are not sustainable in the long run. You would be better off trying to change your home environment to cut down on the ultra-processed foods that can lead to an overconsumption of calories.
You can also increase your fibre from fruit and veg and maybe increase the percentage of your protein per meal to around 30% of your plate as fibre and protein can help improve feelings of fullness to avoid the temptation of calorie dense ultra-processed tasty treats.
5. Myth – Oranges are the best source of vitamin C
Fact – The chances are that the first thing that comes to your head when you’re told to get more vitamin C into your body is the Orange. Oranges are a great source of vitamin C with one medium orange making up 97% of your daily recommended intake, but why restrict yourself as there are a lot of other foods that contain the good stuff.
One cup of sliced raw strawberries contains 108% of your daily value and one large pepper weighs in with a whopping 380% DV, other great sources include Kiwi, lemons, blackcurrants and many vegetables as well like potatoes, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, red cabbage and tomatoes (does not include pizza sauce or any other ultra-processed version like ketchup unfortunately).
With vitamin C being vital for the health of your immune system, connective tissues, blood vessels and many others body functions, it’s good to know a where you can get it from and it will be an extra bonus if it stops you from drinking fruit juices, especially the ones that claim to be a super smoothie.
It is always best to eat your fruit rather than drink it as drinking juice can lead to an overconsumption of calories as its much higher in sugar per portion and with far less fibre.
6. Myth – Meat and fish take months to digest
Fact – This is one of the most astounding myths, but some people genuinely believe in it, but don’t worry, meat and fish generally take as long as 2 days to fully digest as they contain complex molecules that take longer.
Make sure that you get plenty of fruit and veg as high fibre foods help your digestive track run more efficiently. Sugary junk foods fly through your body in a matter of hours leaving you hungry again soon afterwards, so if you want to keep the hunger away then try to have foods higher in satiety levels like fibre and proteins.
7. Myth – Alcohol before bed helps you sleep
Fact – Alcohol may make you get to sleep quicker, but that’s it.
Research shows that alcohol messes with sleep quantity and quality. You will get less REM sleep which is the deep sleep that is important for recovery and restoration and helps with memory and concentration. You may find that with a little night cap that you’ll wake up frequently, have vivid dreams and get up to pee.
Sleep is so important for good physical and mental health so if you are having trouble sleeping you may want to seek specialist advice that’s not from the local bartender. You can find some helpful sleep hygiene advice on the NHS page.