In the interest of keeping this to blog-post length rather than dissertation length, we've picked our top 5 most infuriating myths to debunk.
Unfortunately, much of this information is still spouted and perpetuated by those who should know better, despite the swathe of research that has continuously disproven, or failed to support, these ideas but we're here to clear the confusion for you.
So, let us begin…
‘Carbs make you fat’. As does eating fat or eating after 6 PM.
Really? What we know is the law of thermodynamics. This gives us energy balance and says:
- If you are consuming more energy (eg. calories through food and drink) than you are expending, you will gain weight.
- Equally, if you are consuming less than you are expending, you will lose weight.
- And if you are consuming just as much as you are expending, you will maintain weight.
The only thing that will make you gain weight is consuming too many calories. I’m not talking about acute fluctuations in scale weight – there are a number of reasons for that. I’m talking about weight gain through increased energy storage in adipose (fat) tissue.
The ONLY reason for that is too many calories. It’s not because you’re eating carbs. Or fats. Or after 6 PM. Or 3 large meals rather than 6 small meals.
If any of these factors lead to an increase in your caloric intake and put you into an energy surplus then sure, but you see my point.
‘Being vegetarian/vegan is better for your health’
Well, this is a weird one but essentially, no.
There is associational data that finds vegetarians to be ‘healthier’ but can we definitely say this is due to the fact that they are not eating meat? Correlation =/= causation people.
Vegetarians and vegans are often more health-seeking individuals who lead generally ‘healthier’ lives, something that is not often accounted for within the research on this topic.
We seem to have gone from a world where everyone was suggesting that you HAD to eat meat to be healthy (wrong), all the way to one in which a solely plant-based diet is now the only way to achieve physical health (also wrong).
The recent Netflix document, ‘The Gamechangers’, is a prime example of this but the fact of the matter is that yes, you can be healthy and perform well without eating meat, but the natural conclusion is not then that eating meat is unhealthy.
Can we get a bit of balance please people?
Celery juice has magical healing properties
Okay please no.
Firstly, anything that claims to have magical healing properties is something to be approached with caution. If only it was that easy.
Most importantly, however, these magical claims are not evidence-based and are ultimately disempowering to people who are desperately looking for answers, particularly when managing chronic illnesses.
So just eat your veggies and save yourself the trauma of having to down a glass of celery juice every morning.
‘Sugar is as addictive as cocaine’
This idea originated in a study performed on rats. Putting aside the fact that you can’t draw direct conclusions for practical human application from animal studies, the ‘addictive’ nature of sugar has since been refuted.
“There is no support from the human literature for the hypothesis that sucrose may be physically addictive” – Benton (2010)
Added sugars can increase food palatability making these foods easier to over-consume and weight loss harder, but that is not the same thing.
‘Yeah but, Starvation Mode’
The idea here is that, if you eat too little, your body will notice this and go into ‘starvation mode’, causing you to store everything you eat as fat.
The Minnesota semi-starvation study by Ancel Keys in 1945 showed us what really happens when the body is pushed into a state of starvation, and it wasn’t that. The law of thermodynamics will always apply and, if you are in a calorie deficit, you will lose weight.
What is often confused is a process called adaptive thermogenesis. This is a process that can occur after prolonged periods of dieting. Essentially your body starts to adapt to the lower energy intake and, alongside some hormonal changes that can increase hunger and decrease satiety levels, it starts to become more ‘efficient’. This is mostly seen through a reduction in NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis – your conscious and subconscious daily activity) and EEE (Exercise Energy Expenditure). You might start sitting instead of standing, fidgeting less, feeling too tired to go to the gym and even using less facial expressions. All of which is your body trying to conserve energy.
Adaptive thermogenesis can make prolonged dieting harder because it reduces your energy expenditure, but it does not negate the idea of calories in vs. calories out.
These sort of myths can have a really negative impact on your relationship with food in the long term and make your life so much harder than it needs to be. If any of you have fallen victim to any of these myths, do not worry yourself. You’re most certainly not alone.
Now you know and you can go forth, ignore the bullsh*t and ENJOY your nutrition without any of these fears weighing you down. Because you’re doing great.
FBF Collective Team