7 Nutrition Myths You Have to Stop Believing

7 Nutrition Myths You Have to Stop Believing

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Whether you’re looking to shed a few pesky pounds or you just want to get back on the wellness wagon, nutrition is key. And while there are certain tenets of healthy eating that seem obvious—eat more veggies, drink more water, cut back on added sugar and empty calories, when it comes to the nutrition nitty gritty, it can get a little confusing.

That’s probably because there’s a lot of conflicting information out there—and a lot of misinformed “experts” providing it. (FYI: Unless they are registered dietitians, your trainer at the gym and your favorite social media influencer aren’t qualified to be giving you nutritional guidance).
We’ve combed through the research and caught up with the experts to help you cut through the clutter and identify the top misnomers about nutrition.

Here are seven common nutrition myths you have to stop believing:
  1. Fats Make You Fat
    While it’s true that fat contains more calories per gram than the other two macronutrients, carbohydrates and protein, it’s also true that fat helps keep you feeling fuller longer, which often leads to fewer calories consumed. That’s probably why research has shown that diets high in fat have been proven just as effective—and in some cases, more effective—than low fat diets in helping with weight loss.

    But keep in mind that not all fats are created equal—monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, like omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids, are known as the “good fats” because they dish out a variety of health benefits.

    Good sources of monounsaturated fats are olive oil, peanut oil , canola oil, avocados and most nuts, as well as high-oleic safflower and sunflower oils. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil and unhydrogenated soybean oil.

    Be wary of low-fat and fat-free products, which often contain added sugar and sodium to compensate for the flavor that is lost when fat is removed.
  1. You Have to Cut Carbs to Lose Weight
    Carbohydrates are important—so important that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends they comprise 45 to 65 percent of your total calories each day. That’s because carbs provide your body with glucose, which is converted to energy and enables countless critical bodily functions.

    But for those trying to lose weight, carbs are often the first thing to get cut. And while there is a body of research linking low carb diets to weight loss, pasta and bread lovers will be happy to know that there are other ways to trim down.

    Research suggests that when it comes to weight loss, cutting fat is just as effective as cutting carbs. And while very low carb diets may lead to larger short-term weight loss than low fat diets, most studies  have found that at the one or two year mark, the benefits of a low carb diet are not significant.

    If weight loss is your goal, most experts recommend eating a balanced, calorie-controlled diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats.
  2. No Sweets Allowed
    If you’ve got a sweet tooth that just won’t quit, you’ll be thrilled to know that you can have your cake and be healthy, too: Most nutrition experts agree that dessert can be a part of a healthy diet. And there’s research to support that: According to one study, moderate indulging may actually help prevent excess sugar intake. That’s probably because deprivation can lead to cravings, which can cause you to eventually eat more of the treats you were trying to avoid in the first place. So if your goal is to reduce your sugar intake, enjoying an occasional sweet treat may actually help you do that.
  3. Skipping the Salt Shaker is the Best Way to Cut Back on Sodium
    Americans are eating too much sodium: According to the Mayo Clinic, the average American consumes 3,440 milligrams of sodium per day—that’s over 1,000 milligrams more than the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ sodium recommendations.

    If you’re trying to shake your salt habit, though, you’ll have to look beyond the salt shaker. Much of the excess sodium that Americans consume actually comes from the salt added to processed, ready-to-eat foods, and hidden sources like pasta sauces and salad dressings.

    To cut back on sodium, minimize the processed foods in your diet, and swap takeout and restaurant meals for fresh, home cooked meals when possible.
  4. Juicing = Healthy
    In theory, juicing seems like a great way to increase your fruit and veggie intake. And for those who struggle to eat enough produce, it can be. But juicing typically involves removing the skin of the fruits and veggies, which is unfortunate since the skin typically contains the highest concentrations of important nutrients like fiber.

    A better option is to eat a whole piece of produce or to make a smoothie, which typically includes the whole fruit—skin and all.

  1. Fruit Contains Too Much Sugar
    It’s true that fruit is higher in sugar than most vegetables, whole grains, proteins, fibers and fats. But there’s a big difference between eating a red apple, which contains about 80 calories and 12 grams of naturally occurring sugars, and eating a chocolate bar, many of which clock in around 250 calories and close to 30 grams of added sugar.

    Dessert foods, baked goods and sugar-sweetened beverages, which contain a large quantity of refined table sugar are typically very low in other nutrients, yet very high in calories. Fruit, which contains naturally occurring sugars, tends to be the opposite—low in calories and loaded with beneficial nutrients like fiber, which aids digestion and helps regulate blood glucose levels.

  2. There’s No Such Thing As Too Much Protein
    Protein is important—it plays a critical role in the creation and maintenance of every cell in your body. But eat too much of it, and you could be asking for some pretty serious consequences. Excess protein is not used efficiently by the body and research suggests consuming too much of it over time may compromise bone health, as well as kidney and liver function. And, if your protein intake comes largely from red meat, which is high in saturated fat, you might be at increased risk of coronary heart disease and even certain forms of cancer .

    While the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans don’t provide an optimal percentage of protein, and instead emphasize the importance of eating high quality, protein-rich foods, there is a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein. The RDA is the minimum amount of a nutrient you need to meet basic nutritional need For protein, the RDA is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. For a 150-pound woman, that equates to about 54 grams of protein. For reference, a four ounce cooked chicken breast contains about 30 grams, one egg contains close to 13 grams, and a single serving of Greek yogurt contains anywhere from 10 to 20 grams, depending upon the brand.

    To meet your protein needs, opt for lean or plant-based sources, like zing bars. Each bar has the protein equivalent of 1 ½ ounces of lean turkey or chicken, which is the ideal amount to support muscle growth, tissue repair and metabolic maintenance.