Fitness, health and nutrition media is notoriously full of misinformation, misinterpretation and outright lies. Too many interests collide, forming an asteroid field of poor guidelines, health myths and misunderstood science. With this article I want you to be able to filter out this noise and get a better picture of what really matters.
Calories will always matter
A calorie intake that matches your current goals is always the number one priority. Don’t fool yourself by thinking “oh but those paleo brownies are so healthy, they won’t make me fat!” If you overeat, you overeat. That’s it.
The anabolic window is dead
Well it’s not dead, but most people have a wrong idea about it: after you work out, you only have a few hours where you have to eat to give your muscles fuel to grow. Forget this! There IS an anabolic window, but it is several days and not a few hours.
Don’t skimp on salt
The main concern with salt is that it is said to increase blood pressure. But is this really the case? The increase in blood pressure from a high sodium diet does not consistently translate into an increase in cardiovascular health incidents. There is even emerging evidence that actively restricting your salt intake is bad for your health!
You don’t need to eat every 2-3 hours
There is this old image of your metabolism being like a fire place that needs constant fuel to keep burning. The truth? Human metabolism is perfectly able to “survive” extended periods of fasting without any problems. Find a meal frequency you can constantly stick to and you are golden.
Don’t use crash diets – build habits
Crash diets don’t give sustainable results. If you have ever tried one, you probably already know this. You have to build habits and slowly change your lifestyle for a lasting and meaningful improvement.
Red meat won’t kill you
To put things in perspective, unprocessed meat consumption has virtually no relation with cancer, whereas processed meat does seem to increase your risk of cancer. But it’s not nearly comparable to smoking, alcohol, being overweight or being sedentary. So get your priorities right and stick to unprocessed meat.
Juicing isn’t magical
I can’t understand the juicing hype: why do you need to drink your fruits and vegetables when you can eat them? Cook something, get creative, enjoy the variety and don’t put everything in a machine, only drinking the liquids. Also don’t think that there is anything special about juicing, it’s just a fancy way to get your vegetables in!
Supplements are useful, but not essential
Despite of what the supplement industry wants you to believe, there are only a few supplements with scientifically proven effect. The rest can only help to shrink your wallet. Get your diet and training right in the first place, then you can start to think about supplementation.
Protein is important
The kind of the diet doesn’t matter as long as you stick to it
It doesn’t matter if you’re keto, vegan, paleo, low carb, high fat or anything else, you have to actually stick to the diet! A good diet limits your calorie intake in one way or another, but you have to give it some time to work. And please use your common sense: only because scrambled eggs and bacon are keto, it doesn’t mean that you should eat them three times a day! Same goes for “healthy” paleo brownies, vegan pancakes or other diet-abominations: keep your calorie balance in mind!
Carbs aren’t the devil
Those poor carbs got some bad rap over the past years. And to be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of them either. But if you’ve covered your protein and fat intake, it is perfectly okay to eat some carbs. Try to get them from great sources like fruits and vegetables before you get your pancake pan out though!
Neither are artificial sweeteners
Commonly used artificial sweeteners are perfectly safe to use if you don’t go overboard with them. And no, they do not increase your appetite. Sweeteners can make your diet much more enjoyable, increasing your compliance, resulting in better long term results. Just take a look of what you can do with them here or here!
Breakfast isn’t the most important meal of the day
It’s just a meal like any other meal later in a day, there isn’t anything special about it. If you are never hungry in the morning and feel good fasting until lunch, this is perfectly fine. I myself couldn’t do this as I really enjoy a big breakfast that keeps me satieted until lunch, but this isn’t the case for everybody else. Only consistency is important: choose a meal frequency and stick to it!
Don’t avoid saturated fat
Saturated fat’s bad reputation goes back to the (in)famous Seven Countries Study, an incredibly shaky epidemiological and animal research without any controlled studies in humans. Today a large amount of research shows the safety of saturated fat intake. Some research even finds favorable effects of cheese and meat compared to carbs on cholesterol profiles. Overall, the relation between saturated fat intake and actual health effects is largely neutral. For more information on cholesterol read this blog post.
Eating vegetables and fruits will never be a bad choice
They are healthy, tasty and versatile! But they still have calories, so make sure you track them correctly. Try to eat a broad variety of fruits and vegetables. Buy local and seasonal produce, they usually offer the best quality for the lowest price.
I hope you now have a better idea of a really healthy nutrtition. Share this post to help combat the misinformation that is prevalent everywhere. Don’t forget to follow this blog to stay on track!
Do you have any questions? Know any other health myths? Let me know in the comments section below.