Food is an emotional subject. Though there are certainly people who don’t get excited about food, who aren’t tempted to overeat, and who eat purely for the sake of health, most people do not. Most people eat—often too much—because food is pretty delicious!
That being said, most of us want to be healthier. We want to make diet changes. Problem is, we have been misled to believe things about diet and nutrition that simply aren’t true, says Dr. Barb Bradshaw, a medical doctor who researches topics related to nutrition.
Bradshaw believes some of the biggest mistakes people make with their diet comes down to commonly held myths the majority of the population holds about diet and nutrition. And dispelling these myths might just make you leaner, healthier, and happier.
Here are 4 of them:
1. Skip the diet!
Good news: Diets AREN’T the answer for the majority of us!
“We know that people who intentionally diet, roughly 95-99% of them fail, and these individuals are more prone to weight gain later,” Bradshaw said. Check out this study published in the International Journal of Obesity “Does dieting make you fat? A twin study.”
Bradshaw added: “This is due to multiple factors, but one of the biggest reasons is that chronic caloric restriction, typically achieved with the standard low-fat, higher carbohydrate “eat less move more” dietary advice, results in reduced resting energy expenditure (metabolism), and studies show that in those individuals, this does not recover, and results in further weight gain down the road, unless that newer lower calorie intake is maintained, which is near impossible.” Check out this study for more on this.
2. Calories are NOT created equal
“It has long been taught that it doesn’t matter what we eat, whether it’s sugar or protein or fat, so long as we maintain a reduced caloric intake, and that eating 100 calories of sugar is the same to our body as eating 100 calories of fat,” Bradshaw said. “However, research now shows that this is false. We cannot reliably reduce body weight in the long term by simply cutting calories.”
The reality is, the QUALITY of food we eat has a huge impact on our body composition, as well as on our hormones, and when we eat high-sugar products and refined carbohydrates (which get broken down into sugar), our blood sugar increases, which is followed by a fast rise in insulin.
“In the presence of insulin, our body wants to store (as fat) the sugar that doesn’t immediately get utilized,” Bradshaw said, adding, “When we eat foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates, we also have a tendency to eat more.” Read more about this topic here.
The end result of all that sugar = Type 2 Diabetes!
For more about the dangers of sugar, Bradshaw recommends watching “Sugar the Bitter Truth” by Dr. Robert Lustig.
Instead of pumping our bodies with low-fat, high carb, high sugar foods, Bradshaw suggests eating “an evolutionarily appropriate diet, with good amounts of natural fat, protein and produce, while significantly reducing sugar, refined carbohydrates and processed ‘fake’ food.”
She added: “This will allow your body to find its natural healthy weight, and naturally regulates hunger so that we learn what real hunger actually is. This way of eating results in a low insulin environment, and allows us to unlock our fat stores to burn fat as fuel, while reversing insulin resistance, and can put Type 2 diabetes into remission.”
3. Logging more hours on the treadmill will NOT make you thin
“It is a common belief that if we just exercise a lot, we can eat whatever we want. While that might be true in some metabolically gifted and very athletic individuals, most of us cannot maintain a poor diet while exercising and expect to lose weight or maintain a healthy body composition,” Bradshaw said.
Yes, physical activity and fitness does contribute to better health, but it’s not all that connected to weight loss, contrary to what many believe. In fact, this study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine says poor diet is believed to be more connected to disease than physical inactivity, alcohol and smoking combined.
“It is not uncommon for endurance athletes to develop Type 2 diabetes (thin on the outside but fat on the inside) due to many years of chronic carbohydrate loading surrounding physical activity,” Bradshaw said.
4. Fat doesn’t make you fat
“We have lived through four decades of advice to lower dietary fat, with the thought that fat in the diet causes heart disease. It has now been clearly shown that the low fat dietary guidelines had no basis in evidence,” Bradshaw said. For more, check out these studies: Study 1, Study 2.
She added: “We used to know how to eat for health before the dietary guidelines were issued in 1977, and I consider the last 40 years of dietary advice to have been a low fat, processed food fad diet experiment that has failed by all measurements, and has caused our population harm. Lowering fat has led to significantly increased amounts of sugar and refined carbohydrates, contributing to weight gain, metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Eating fat is cardio-protective, and helps satiate us, leading to reliable hunger cues.”
On top of this, there’s evidence that it’s actually sugar, not fat, that causes heart disease. Two other studies to take a look at for more on this include: (http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/article-abstract/1819573) and (http://openheart.bmj.com/content/1/1/e000167.full).
That being said, there are some fats we should avoid, such as trans fats and highly-refined vegetable oils with abnormally high levels of inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids. Bradshaw suggests choosing natural plant or animal-based fats instead, such as fat from nuts, olive oil, and fatty fish.
“And don’t fear the saturated fat from other animal products and coconut oil, as there is no evidence that saturated fat causes heart disease. Eat enough fat to satiate you, but there is no need to add copious amounts of extra fat beyond that needed to satisfy hunger,” she said.
Give it a try: Avoid launching a restrictive “diet,” and get it out of your head that you need to run on the treadmill for 90 minutes a day to burn off your lunch! Instead, eat a consistent diet low in sugar (and processed foods) and embrace the delicious world of healthy fats! Your body will thank you.