With so much information available in Internet, it's often difficult to distinguish scientific data from fake statements, and most people are confused about what is true and false in terms of eating healthy and exercising right. Here are a few myths that need to be revealed and disputed. I hope you will enjoy my multi-chapter saga, coming from 20 years of expertise in this field. :-)
ALL CALORIES ARE THE SAME. Although correct in bioenergetics, this statement doesn’t hold true when it comes to nutritional density and satiety after a meal. Some calories are “empty”, and provide much less nutritional value and fullness than others. Foods rich in empty calories have a low nutritional density, and therefore add calories to our diet without the benefits of healthy nutritional components. For instance, a candy bar may pack up a similar amount of calories to a handful of almonds. However, while the candy bar is rich in sugar and saturated fats - and much less filling - almonds provide us with healthy fats, minerals and fiber. They might have the same calories, but their effect will be different in our body. In regards to this myth, let me add my skepticism about the Weight Watchers program. Although I do consider it as the closest “diet” to a healthy nutrition, the close relation between its “points” and calories is undisputable. By telling us that we can eat whatever we like, as long as we stay within our “points’ allowance”, it doesn’t teach us the difference between points – aka calories – and only helps us in a limited way.
“NATURAL” FOODS ARE BETTER FOR US. The term “natural” is used very loosely when it comes to foods. Sorry to disappoint you: it’s worthless. There are plenty of junk foods out there advertised and labeled as “natural”, containing “only natural ingredients”, when in reality they don’t. There is no legal regulation of the use of this word, and food-manufacturing companies know it (and abuse it).
IF I EAT FAT, I WILL GET FATTER. Not necessarily. Although it’s true that binging on foods rich in fats will increase our caloric intake, not all fats are the same, and we would be making a big mistake if we tried to avoid them all. The harm trans-fats can do to our cardiovascular system has been widely confirmed, and saturated fats (found in meat, high-fat dairy, and many processed foods) can promote heart disease as well if consumed in excess. However, we not only can eat unsaturated fats… we need them. Found predominantly in seafood and plant products such as nuts, seeds, avocados, olives and olive oil, unsaturated fats represent an essential component in a healthy nutrition, and allow our diet to be physiologically balanced. They play a key role in the production of hormones, and in the absorption and transportation of vitamins A, D, E and K. They provide additional energy to our body, and help repair damage in most tissues. Unsaturated fats don’t promote heart disease… they actually reduce the risk. In addition, since it takes longer to digest fat, the ingestion of unsaturated fats at every meal slows down the digestive process, allowing us to feel full sooner and for a longer period. This shows that eating fat can actually help us lose fat, because if we make sure to have enough unsaturated fat in our diet, we will less likely overeat.
LOW-CARBS DIETS ARE THE WAY TO GO. I will never be tired to dismantle any diet advocating for large amounts of protein at the expenses of carbohydrates. They seem to work at the beginning, but they won’t long-term. They’re just not sustainable, and can pose a serious threat to our cardiovascular system. It’s much healthier – and more effective – to have both (along with unsaturated fats) at every meal.
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