We are inundated with data and information when it comes to health & wellness. Everyone claims to have ‘the way’ be it via that #influencer life, unbalanced documentaries, or via larger brands with personal marketing agendas. It’s really no wonder that sifting through all of this information to find the facts vs fiction has become so hard. Every year, something new hits the limelight and already we’ve got some new trending nutrition news and fads to address. It’s time to get those food myths debunked. Let’s take a look shall we…..
Food Myths Debunked
The Celery Juice Diet
We wrote an article about the celery juice diet. The celery juice diet is making significant ripples in the wellness space. The claim is that drinking 16-32oz of celery juice first thing in the morning on an empty stomach will restore and support your gut health as well as support a host of other benefits. While we’re not hating on the vegetable, the idea that drinking a specific juice daily raises an eyebrow.
If you’ve tried it and loved it, who are we to stop you! But the bottom line is that juicing celery (or any vegetable) isn’t going to magically gift you a healthy gut. That takes time and consistency and above all a varied diet. But hey, by all means don’t dump the celery! It’s packed full of vitamins and minerals and makes for a great pairing with hummus.
Low Carb for the win
In recent years fat is gaining popularity and carbs are getting the boot. This year is no different; we are still hating on carbs. First, it was Atkins, then low carb, then keto and now even just full out carnivore diet. Each diet is different in terms of reasons to follow/associated benefits. While a lot of popularity around this group pertains to weight loss, followers also report a vast array of health benefits. To be fair, there is research behind this; consuming fewer carbs, primarily from fruit and vegetable sources (if at all) helps to balance blood sugar, supports fat loss, gut health, mood as well as certain autoimmune conditions. But is it all it seems?
Again if you’ve tried it and love it, we’re only here to caution that it’s not the magic answer to all your woes. A significant portion of weight loss on low carb diets is usually due to water loss i.e. glycogen is responsible for water retention, so when its levels fall, so do our water levels. If you’re training for performance, you may very well need carbs to support your energy (e.g. ATP-CP and anaerobic energy-based sports). Finally and most important to note, a lower carb/keto diet can disrupt your gut health by reducing the growth of key probiotic bacteria. All in all, there are benefits in certain cases but it’s definitely not a one size fits all. So do your research.
Saturated fat actually a superfood
First we hated it, then we proceeded with caution and now we’re obsessed (stick that butter in my coffee and pass me that bacon). Seriously, butter, coconut oil, bacon, bulletproof coffee….it’s all about the fat these days.
One of the three macronutrients, fats contain 9 calories per gram. They are made up of triglycerides and referred to as oil (if it’s liquid at room temperature) and fat if it is solid at room temperature. There are three types typically found in our diet: saturated fat, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.
Here’s the deal, there’s different types of fat and saturated fat was initially thought to clog arteries. While current research has proven this connection as misleading, we’ve also gone a bit out of control on the fat-loving. For one, it’s important to get a variety of all the types of fats. Second, certain types of fats are better for cooking, specifically the saturated fats that are more resistant to heat. You can read our post, if you want to learn more about healthy fats. But the take-home message again is yes you need fat in your diet for health, but get a wide variety of both animal and plant-based oils/fats like oily fish, seeds, avocados, nuts and butters.
Avoid fruit, it’s sugar!
This year, fruit has moved to the blacklist. We’re kind of feeling the tirade against sugar has gone a step too far on this one. We know that sugar is best kept to a minimum and that processed foods generally contain far too much. WHO suggests a daily allowance of 24g per day and often the worst culprits include obvious chocolate/candy bars and the not so obvious processed foods like flavoured yoghurts, sauces and pre-made foods.
When it comes to fruit, it’s a different story. All fruit contains a mixture of fructose, glucose, and sucrose (which metabolizes into equal parts fructose and glucose in our bodies). But aside from sugar, fruit also offers vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants that are not found in processed foods. One great resource for checking the antioxidant benefit of different fruits (and veggies) is the ORAC scale. This is a database of antioxidant levels compiled by scientists at the National Institutes of Health. But as a rule of thumb, get a wide variety and you’re covered. Fruit also contains plenty of fibre which helps to slow down digestion of sugar i.e. avoid that insulin spike.
So end message: avoid excess consumption of sugar but don’t include fruit in this list.
You need to have protein immediately post workout
This one has been around for a while – that magic post-workout window. Some say you need to consume protein within 2 hours, others as soon as 45 minutes. It’s not uncommon to see individuals leaving the gym and shaking up their protein. But is it true?
The fitness world is full of confusion and contradiction. What is true is that the nutrition you consume around your workout can greatly increase your rate of progress. The focus for protein and the magic 2-hour window, that actually comes from science back in the early 00s. A couple of studies came out suggesting a rough 2-hour timeline and it just gathered steam. Around the same time, Tipton and colleagues (2003) examined responsiveness of protein synthesis for a day after a workout and found the effects to be enhanced for 24 hours. But for some reason, we decided 2 hours was fact.
Not only that but there are other things too like that there’s an obvious difference between how our muscles respond to the two types of exercise like cardio vs strength training. Bottom line, spread your protein and eat consistently throughout the day.
Caloric guidelines are 2000 for women and 2500 for men
If you look at a food label, you will see ingredient contents compared to a 2,000/2,500-calorie average diet. The number was developed originally in the early 90s by the Food and Drug Administration to help standardise labels against a daily base %.
These numbers are just a benchmark as is also acknowledged by those who developed it. Because the reality is this number will jump depending on an individual’s metabolism, lifestyle, activity levels, age etc. For a definitive, personalised number you need to do a bit more complicated maths and testing. There’s plenty of equations online that can serve as a good baseline, or you can even speak to a nutritional therapist to help you figure it out. And if you feel happier being uncoupled from calorie counting, ignore this point altogether and just focus on whole foods. Nutrients are greater in importance than numbers anyway!