20 Nutrition Myths I Used to Believe Were True

Written by | Posted under Nutrition | 2 years ago

When I first started my fitness journey (back in the days when there was no easy access to the internet), I had no idea what I was doing. To gather tips, I asked people who seemed, watched infomercials, and watched what other people did in the gym. Then armed with my arsenal of broscience, I headed off to make a change to my fitness level. Needless to say, I failed miserably.

Through a lot more reading, research, and a bunch of trial and error, I ended up learning about and debunking a bunch of fitness myths, so I thought that I’d compile some big ones in this post.

Myth 1: Alcohol makes you fat

Tequila Shot

Photo © im.no.hero

This one is the most convenient myth that has been busted (at least for me), so I want to spend a little more time explaining this one.

On a regular basis, your body uses carbs in your blood stream for energy. Once you run out, your body will start oxidizing the fat cells for energy (ketogenic process – good!). At which point, if you were to consume carbs or protein, you will pause fat cells oxidization. The carbs you consume will go towards a glycogen store and once that store is full, any extra carbs will be turned into fat.

Once you consume alcohol (ethanol), it will get immediate priority over all other substrates. This means that all fat, carb, and protein oxidation will stop. You body will work to try to oxidize the alcohol first for energy. At this state, any dietary fats that get consumed will easily get converted to fat cells and any carbs you consume over your glycogen store will get converted to fat. What this also means is that if your macronutrient for your drinking day is almost purely protein and you keep pounding shots of tequila (not chugging beer or cocktails), then you will not gain that much fat at all.

Note: Beer has lots of carbs in addition to alcohol, but shots have almost zero carbs (0.5g-1g of carbs per shot).

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Myth 2: Drinking water will help you lose weight.

Although replacing sugary beverages with water is a smart thing and will help with reducing your caloric intake, recent studies are starting to show that drinking water actually does not help you burn calories or suppress your appetite.

Myth 3: Eat smaller meals to keep your metabolism up

Small Meals

Photo © ulterior epicure

I used to eat small meals throughout the day. The only thing that ever helped me with was to learn how to portion control. I didn’t lose any extra weight by splitting up my 3 big meals into 6 small ones throughout the day.

“More importantly, studies using whole-body calorimetry and doubly-labelled water to assess total 24h energy expenditure find no difference between nibbling and gorging.”

source: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=879792

Myth 4: Eat more meals to keep you full all the time

More like, this will make me starve all the time. I’ve learned that a good amount of protein & fat keeps me full and satiated longer than back when I used to eat 6 small meals per day.

“Collectively, these data suggest that higher protein intake promotes satiety and challenge the concept that increasing the number of eating occasions enhances satiety in overweight and obese men.”

source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20339363

Myth 5: If you don’t eat constantly, your blood sugar level will drop causing you to not be able to think straight.

Sad Cookie

Photo ©: Joseph Stevenson

Personally I skip breakfast everyday and I am a full time software engineer. I notice no mental drawbacks in the morning.

“Cognitive performance, activity, sleep, and mood are not adversely affected in healthy humans by 2 d of calorie-deprivation when the subjects and investigators are unaware of the calorie content of the treatments.”

source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18779282

Myth 6: Eating right before you sleep will make you fat.

“It was really interesting to see that the monkeys who ate most of their food at night were no more likely to gain weight than monkeys who rarely ate at night…”

“This suggests that calories cause weight gain no matter when you eat them.”

source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/02/060202080832.htm

Myth 7: Skipping breakfast will plummet your metabolism and make you fat.

Breakfast

Photo © trawets1

I’m not saying that eating breakfast is bad for you. I’m just saying that it won’t help you lose weight. I skip breakfast everyday intentionally since it has helped me get lean. Here’s a study that shows that short-term fasting doesn’t lower your metabolism, but instead increases it.

Myth 8: Fasting will destroy your metabolism and make you lose muscle.

For long term fasting, this is true. But there has been no reliable study to prove this for short term fasting (i.e. 12-24 hours). Not to say that 24 hours is the cut-off time. This study found that the negative effects of fasting starts kicking in at about 60 hours (so you got plenty of buffer room).

Myth 9: After your workout, you have only one hour to replenish your body with fast nutrients.

This is a popular myth that needs to be debunked. According to this study by Tipton and colleagues, our body still responds to good nutrition even at 24 hours after your workout. Eat enough protein throughout the day.

Myth 10: Your body can only process 30g of protein per meal.

Protein powder“Based on the available evidence, it’s false to assume that the body can only use a certain amount of protein per meal. Studies examining short-term effects have provided hints towards what might be an optimal protein dose for maximizing anabolism, but trials drawn out over longer periods haven’t supported this idea.”

source: http://www.wannabebig.com/diet-and-nutrition/is-there-a-limit-to-how-much-protein-the-body-can-use-in-a-single-meal/

Myth 11: Eating saturated fat will destroy your health and increase your risks of cardiovascular disease

“A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD.”

source: http://www.ajcn.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract

Myth 12: Fructose is much worst than sucrose (sugar)

Sugar cubes

Photo © Uwe Hermann

I talked about this before in an earlier post: Sugar (Sucrose) Is More Similar to High Fructose Corn Syrup Than You Think

Myth 13: Cholesterol == BAD

“Our findings do not support the hypothesis that hypercholesterolemia or low HDL-C are important risk factors for all-cause mortality, coronary heart disease mortality, or hospitalization for myocardial infarction or unstable angina in this cohort of persons older than 70 years.”

source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7772105

Myth 14: High protein intake can harm your kidneys.

According to this study, you can intake up to 1.27g of protein per pound of body weight per day without any adverse effect on renel functions. Most athletes on a high protein diet usually consume about 1g of protein per pound of their body weight each day. Take that hippies.

Myth 15: Red meat causes cancer.

Red Meat

Photo © shaynabright

This myth started back in 1986 when a Japanese researcher discovered that feeding rats “heterocyclic amines” (the burnt part of overcooked meat) causes cancer growth in rats. Since then there has been many studies (like this one) trying to correlate red meat with cancer and failed to do so. There is even a study unlinking the consumption of a usual amount of heterocyclic amines with cancer. Don’t stop grilling and eat your meat people. It’s good for you.

Myth 16: Low/no carb diets are unhealthy.

“Even short-term consumption of a paleolithic type diet improves BP and glucose tolerance, decreases insulin secretion, increases insulin sensitivity and improves lipid profiles without weight loss in healthy sedentary humans.”

source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19209185

Myth 17: Carbs are bad for you.

Carbs have been getting a bad rap lately, but carbs do have a place in helping you get in shape. Your body needs carbs for fast energy. Try lifting heavy weights or competing in any sports without eating carbs on that day. You will get destroyed. There is no way you can perform intense workouts without eating your carbs.

If your goal is to cut fat, you should be eating as much carbs as you can while not gaining fat.

Personally, I have a hard time cutting fat (my metabolism sucks), so I cut out the carbs completely during my non-workout days. Everybody is different though so experiment, monitor your carbs, and find what works for you.

Myth 18: Take Fish oil supplements to lose fat.

Fish oil pills

Photo © Ron Doke

Fish oil has many wonderful benefits, but it only marginally helps with fat loss.

“In the most recent fish oil + exercise study to date, Hill’s team examined the effect of fish oil supplementation … less than a pound more weight loss in the fish oil group in 12 weeks.”

source: http://alanaragon.com/fish-oil.html

Myth 19: Ephedrine is the most dangerous supplement. That’s why it was banned in the US.

Ephedrine stacked with caffeine is no more dangerous than any other fat burning supplement when used as directed. That said, if you are not reasonably healthy, you shouldn’t be taking any fat burners anyway since they can seriously harm you even at recommended dosages.

“In total, these suggest that herbal ephedra/caffeine herbal supplements, when used as directed by healthy overweight men and women in combination with healthy diet and exercise habits, may be beneficial for weight reduction without significantly increased risk of adverse events.”

source: http://www.nature.com/ijo/journal/v26/n5/full/0802023a.html

Myth 20: Creatine is bad for you and can permanently harm you.

Creatine powderCreatine is a naturally occurring compound, made up of three amino acids called Glycine, Methionine, and Arginine. It exists in meat (roughly 5g per kg of meat) and animal products as well. Supplementation with creatine (in the form of monohydrate) has not been shown to infer any harm to any healthy population.

Despite popular broscience, creatine will not (under healthy conditions) harm kidneys, the liver, the heart, the brain, and will not induce any significant hormonal changes that manifest themselves as behavior changes.”

source: http://examine.com/supplements/Creatine/

That’s it so far!

Giving credit where credit is due: I learned a lot of this stuff from leangains.com, alanaragon.com and lurking around on r/Fitness over the years (great resources to follow if you want to get in the best shape of your life). Please feel free to share in the comments section if you know of any other nutrition myths that you used to believe were true.

13 Comments

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  1. Whit Matthews said,

    While many of these ARE true, be careful not to fall into the logical fallacy of saying, “this isn’t true, I do it all the time and that doesn’t happen”. Just because one thing does or doesn’t work for you, doesn’t mean that applies to people in general, and technically speaking doesn’t mean it applies to ANYONE other than you. Also, there are most likely (read: definitely) more factors at work than you realize. So saying eating before bed doesn’t make you fat because you occasionally do it and you didn’t get fat really holds no weight (no pun intended), scientifically speaking.

    That being said, there are definitely a lot of valid points on your list.

    2 years ago
  2. Doctor Thomas said,

    YOU ARE A FAT IDIOT. POST A PICTURE OF YOURSELF. (PICS OR IT DIDN’T HAPPEN)

    2 years ago
  3. Thaya Kareeson said,

    @Whit Matthews
    Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment! You are right that for that case, I extrapolated my personal experiences and tried to apply it to others. Everybody works differently. I have removed my personal testimony from Myth 6.

    2 years ago
  4. Thaya Kareeson said,

    @Doctor Thomas
    You are right, I noticed that I didn’t have any pictures to back this up. I just went and found a pair of before & after pictures that showed my weight loss better than the previous pictures and added it to the about page.

    I have actually gained some more muscles after the after picture, so I will snap one and re-update the about page probably tomorrow (as it is almost 3am now). Thanks for the tip!

    P.S. sorry, I had to remove profanity from your original comment. I want to try to keep this blog a bit clean.

    2 years ago
  5. Thaya Kareeson said,

    @Doctor Thomas
    There you go. Updated to the lasted picture as of today.

    2 years ago
  6. Olajuwon said,

    @Thaya Kareeson

    I’m going to enjoy your blog! Thanks for the tips!

    Also, isn’t it annoying when people only nit-pick and say what isn’t true? If you’re going to take away from something, at least provide something so we can all grow from it.

    2 years ago
  7. Thaya Kareeson said,

    @Olajuwon
    Thanks for the kind words! And thanks for the great idea! I will write spin-off articles addressing as many nutrition myths up there that I can formulate into some useful concrete tips (backed by science). Keep an eye out!

    2 years ago
  8. Luck said,

    Would you suggest intermittent fasting for weight loss? Say only eat Between noon and six pm? Did you have any experience with such a diet and was it successful? Awesome blog, I enjoy and use a lot of the advice from this website for my own adventure to weight loss, 5’7″ was 255 now stuck at 205 and looking for a way to keep losing!

    1 year ago
  9. Thaya Kareeson said,

    @Luck
    I highly recommend Intermittent Fasting if your goal is body recomposition (less fat, more muscles). I’ve been on LeanGains for a year and have seen amazing results. I have to thank Martin Berkhan for coming up with that protocol. Keep your eyes peeled and subscribe to this site, as I will very soon (in a matter of days) be releasing my own eBook on this blog for free consolidating all of Martin’s LeanGain philosophy in an easy to read manner.

    1 year ago
  10. Ryan Hacker said,

    Good stuff! I followed leangains for a while i just “IF” now 16-20 hr fasts and read Alan’s and Lyle Mcdonalds articles . It’s great that you back your finding with the studies.

    1 year ago
  11. Robert said,

    Myth #21:

    Calorie consumption incurs weight gain

    Re: “This suggests that calories cause weight gain no matter when you eat them.”

    1 year ago
  12. Steve @ Texas said,

    Just FYI, ephedra was banned because it is used to make meth. This meth connection is why any medicines containing pseudoephedrine (such as Sudafed) are now behind the pharmacy counter and strictly controlled to one purchase per week, per person.

    It had absolutely nothing to do with any mythical negative health affects when used as a supplement. It seems most people aren’t aware of the meth connection.

    1 year ago
  13. donny said,

    while i understand your intentions are good. myths are started by half truths. if your going to debunc myths you need to tell the full truth.

    1 year ago

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