Over the years we pick up information about diet and nutrition from various sources- some of which may be more reliable than others. Without much thought we continue to apply this information to our daily lives with many of us needlessly avoiding certain food groups and making uninformed choices that can greatly affect progress.
Knowledge is power when it comes to nutrition and arming yourself with the right information will give you the best chance of achieving your goals, whatever they may be.
Here are 4 common myths about nutrition and the research and statistics that debunk them…
Myth #1 - Gluten is bad for you and affects weight loss
Gluten has received a lot of bad publicity in recent years with many people eliminating it from their diet in fear of negative health consequences or even in the belief that this will help them lose weight.
In truth, when someone cuts gluten out of their diet they tend to reduce their caloric intake which subsequently results in weight loss but this is independent of gluten. This is evident from the research that found when celiac patients removed gluten from their diet, they actually increased their body fat.
From a health perspective, for individuals who are not diagnosed with celiacs disease, gluten will have no negative effect on performance, gastrointestinal symptoms, wellbeing or inflammatory markers. Therefore there is no benefit of cutting this food group out of your diet.
Myth #2 - High protein diets will harm your kidneys
When your aim in the gym is to build muscle, a higher protein intake is recommended as part of your diet.
The common myth that increased protein can have a harmful effect on your kidneys, arises due to the fact that the kidneys filter protein and amino acids from the blood. People fear that by increasing their protein intake, they will put additional pressure on the kidneys as it tries to filter the extra amino acids.
However, extensive research into the effect of high protein diets, reveals that in healthy individuals with no existing kidney issues, high protein diets have been shown to have no effect on kidney function. An increase in protein alongside exercise and a healthy diet will often result in weight loss which may even reduce the risk of renal dysfunction.
Myth #3 - Organic foods are better for health
It’s logical to think that foods with reduced levels of pesticides and processing may be healthier, but is it worth the significantly higher price for organic foods?
It is true that organic foods do appear to have lower levels of pesticides than their non-organic counterparts. However, it’s important to note that non-organic foods have levels of pesticides that are deemed safe for consumption.
When it comes to the effect organic foods have on nutrient levels within the blood and subsequently health, there appears to be no significant difference between organic and non-organic foods. Some may prefer to pay the extra money for organic food but research shows they will be no nutritionally better off.
Myth #4 - Fasted cardio will increase fat burning
Again, this is probably one of the most popular myths around. The theory is that when you train in a fasted state, you can easily tap into fat stores. Technically speaking, this is actually true. If you train fasted they will increase fat oxidation during that session.
However, we now know that if you burn more fat during a training session, you will burn less in the hours after the session. Likewise, if you burn more carbohydrate during a session, you will then burn less carbohydrate in the hours proceeding that session. What does this mean? Calories are king and the substate utilisation during a session is irrelevant for weight loss.
When it comes to body composition, calories are the most important factor to consider. Once calories are considered and set appropriately, it’s then a matter of preference as to whether you eat gluten or organic foods but be aware that your decision will have no effect on health or performance, this empowers you to make a more informed choice.
High protein diets are important regardless of whether your goal is weight loss or building muscle and will not have an impact on kidney function provided you are healthy. For many, training fasted in the morning is convenient but again this will provide no additional benefits and should be a matter of choice and lifestyle as opposed to manipulating eating habits to elicit further fat loss.
So there you have it- 4 nutritional myths, well and truly debunked.