With the rise of internet and social media it’s no surprise that there are thousands of stupid and unsupported myths and programs floating around.
In an attempt to make cash fast, anyone that’s ever lifted a weight has become an online coach fitness model or nutrition expert. Sadly, our industry is heavily plagued by poorly educated and unqualified coaches with no legal body to quantify someone’s level of knowledge or qualification.
This has led to a rise in fitness and nutrition myths primarily based on people’s beliefs or positioned in a way that they can then sell a dieting principle or idea.
Sadly, it’s very easy for people interested in nutrition and fitness to fall into these traps hoping that what these salesmen teach can provide the magic answer they’ve been looking for.
But don’t worry, I’m here to debunk the guru’s, providing an unbiased and scientific breakdown. Before I go any further, I will state I actually like the low-carb approach, so everything you read below is based on the evidence, not some personal hatred or vendetta.
Here are 7 nutrition myths that are downright stupid and lack any science.
1. Don’t Eat Carbohydrates at Night
The short answer is that there’s no scientific reasoning or principle for this recommendation.
However, this nutritional myth has become well known with diets even being based on this one rule. During my graduate degree, I even remember one of our PhD. Sports Scientist tell us he had lost weight successfully by dropping out carbs at night.
As you can see, even “experts” can still fall for these nutritional myths
Although I didn’t argue with him, in actual fact, skipping carbs at night can help you lose weight simply because it forces you to reduce calories or reduce your total calorie intake. This is the only legitimate reason for this, however, it’s nothing magical and you could easily achieve this by dropping carbs, fats or calories out in the morning, at lunch time, or any other time of day.
In contrast to this recommendation, I believe it makes more sense to eat more of your carbohydrates at night. With many of my clients I’ll even program this into their diet plan because their gym sessions tend to be in the evening. Therefore, after the workout they have improved blood sugar and carbohydrate tolerance, which means carb in the evening after a PM training session would actually make sense.
Furthermore, carbs also help the central nervous system and body relax by releasing hormones such as tryptophan, which naturally peak in the evening and help you sleep. If you’ve ever eaten a high carb meal and felt sleepy or tired, this is why.
Depending on the individual, the evening time is when people want to relax maybe sit down and have a nice meal with the family. If this is you, it would make sense to save some of your carb intake for the evening meal and enjoy a normal meal with friends or family.
Here are just three simple examples of why carbohydrates at night may actually be beneficial and as mentioned, there’s actually no other benefit to dropping them out at night. Therefore, I would argue that carbohydrates are more important at night and while dropping them out may work for some there’s no magic behind it and it’s just another stupid nutrition myth.
2. You Must Go Low Carb To Lose Weight
Before I start this I will say that going low carb or ketogenic has many benefits, I’ve even used it successfully with many clients and it is one of my best fat burning plans (see the Metabolic Advantage Diet HERE).
However, this doesn’t stop it from being another stupid nutrition myth that people try to apply to all scenarios. As you’ll have seen if you follow my work I strongly believe that there is no one set approach, some people do exceptionally well on my Metabolic Advantage Diet, however, 100s of others lose fat very quickly on my 90 Day Bikini Plan, which uses Carb Cycling.
The idea that you must go low-carb to lose weight is another myth that has plagued the nutrition industry. Unless you enjoy a low-carb diet and or have used them successfully in the past (without rebounding) there is no reason to go very low-carb for weight loss. Based on the research, when calories and protein are controlled for there is no metabolic advantage for a low-carb diet.
Unless you enjoy a low-carb diet and or have used them successfully in the past (without rebounding) then you do have flexibility when picking your weight loss diet. Based on the research, when calories and protein are controlled for there is no metabolic advantage for a low-carb diet.
Remember, there are many factors that should determine your carb / fat ratio which I’ve discussed in other articles. Ofcourse, one of the big drivers should of course be personal preference, ensuring that you pick a carb/fat ratio which you enjoy and can stick to in the long-term
3. Carbohydrates Make You Ill & Cause Disease
Another common myth is that long-term consumption of carbohydrates can lead to illness and disease.
There are several hypothesis and reasons people believe this, however, while some mechanisms may make sense the context (i.e. sources and quality) of your carbohydrates are certainly a determine factor.
Sure, if an over consumption of carbs lead to an excessive calorie intake, obesity or elevated blood sugar levels then they may make you ill or increase disease risk. However, this rule also applies to other foods and we could argue the same issue with too much fat. For example, an overconsumption of unhealthy fats can lead to rapid weight gain, obesity and disease.
As you can see, bad carbs = bad health. However, bad fats = bad health too. In contrast, good carbs and good fats can be beneficial.
It’s all about context. A moderate amount of carbs per day, which are consumed from healthy sources and match your calorie requirements will not cause an issue.
4. You Should Skip Carbohydrates At Breakfast
In recent years, the carbohydrate breakfast myth has also become extremely popular.
This particular myth can be seen on a daily basis in the physique world. In fact, some of the worlds leading “experts” now preach that a carbohydrate based breakfast is one of the worst things you can do your health and physique.
These “experts” sight that carbohydrates for breakfast can mess up your brain chemistry, decrease cognitive performance, reduce fat oxidation or the reliance on fat for energy during the day. As you may have guessed by now, this is another myth that lacks scientific backing or evidence.
As mentioned in the first section, there is no magical carbohydrate fairy that determines when you should eat your carbohydrates.
It also again comes back to context, yes if you want to compare processed carbs such as children’s sugary cereals against a well balanced healthy meal such as an omelet with vegetables you will see a difference. But, is this a fair comparison? Comparing a poor choice for one diet, versus a very healthy choice for the other diet? Sound’s a little biased don’t you think?
So, what if we compared a high protein breakfast with some healthy carbs and protein such as mixed fruit, sprouted whole grains and high protein yogurt against a high fat and high protein breakfast? Well, chances are both would be a good choice.
Until some direct studies prove otherwise, why would you limit your diet and eliminate one of the most convenient and tasty food groups?
5. Insulin Is The Devil
Another myth based around carbohydrate intake is that insulin is the devil, wrecking your health, physique, fat loss, and increasing disease risks.
As always, insulin may play an unhealthy role in disease formation and obesity risk when taken out of context i.e. in someone already with disease or someone that’s obese and has ignored a healthy lifestyle for 20 or 30 years.
In contrast for normal healthy people, insulin plays an important roles for the athlete or those trying to add muscle. Firstly and most apparent, insulin is the transporter for all your nutrient. In other words, it helps to shuttle all of your amino acids and carbs into the muscle cell, helping with growth and repair.
After all, insulin is a very powerful anabolic steroid used by bodybuilders…
Following a workout, a spike in insulin can also help optimize recovery by decreasing rises in cortisol post workout. In fact, research has shown that carbohydrates taken after the workout can actually increase muscle protein synthesis and reduce muscle soreness, why? Because of insulin.
Doesn’t sound so bad right?
While it is true that a rise in insulin may reduce fat utilization (burning) or fatty acid breakdown it’s again taken out of context when you do not look at total calorie or daily intake. As discussed above, it may reduce your reliance on fat for a few hours after a meal but when the calories and protein are accounted for, long-term studies have shown that it will not affect your long term ability to lose weight.
At the end of the day if you’re a healthy, active individual consuming a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy body fat, insulin is not bad. As discussed, for an athlete, bodybuilder or hard gainer, there are actually numerous benefits.
6. Carbohydrates Make You Fat
The worst myth of all is the general conception that carbohydrates cause obesity and fat gain.
Hopefully by breaking down some of the other myths and mechanisms above you can now see that when some of the basic principles are applied, including your daily total calorie intake, a high protein diet and the consumption of healthy carbohydrates carbs are not the devil!.
To one extreme, you could eat candy everyday and, as long as you are physically active, had a relatively high protein intake and still consume less calories than you burn you wouldn’t get fat. Just take a look at the flexible or IIFYM diet, where people do actually do this and still end in great shape.
The takeaway is that carbohydrates themselves do not cause weight gain the over consumption of processed foods that are high in both unhealthy fats AND processed sugars (along with no exercise etc) do.
Saying that carbohydrates make you fat is simply ludicrous and only appears in statements from low-carb advocates that choose to ignore the research, normally because they are blinded by their own passion and opinionated belief.
7. Carbohydrates Aren’t The Devil
As you can now see, a lot of the myths around carbohydrates are unsupported by any type of research.
Most of the time, they are only stated by low-carb gurus who choose to ignore the research and preach their own personal beliefs.
Apart from this being downright correct information, it’s actually unethical and if they truly cared about your education, knowledge, and results they would instead give you unbiased advice which can actually help you move forward.
Do not fall for these myths that could actually be depriving you of food you love and stopping you from developing a long-term sustainable plan.
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