When it comes to misleading or confusing information, there are plenty of food myths in the space of food and nutrition. While not all of them are maliciously generated, the misinformation was based on opinions that seemed right at the point in time due to incomplete data.
Thankfully, a growing body of research is disproving some of the most persistent myths that are sabotaging our efforts for a healthier body. Read on to find out what some of these myths are!
Myth: Eating fat makes you fat
Fact: Eating fat alone does not lead to immediate weight gain. Illness-related complications aside, weight gain is caused by an excess of calories. As long as your calorie intake is within a healthy range, the fat that you consume, is not automatically stored as fat.
In fact, some types of fat are an essential part of your diet. For example, monounsaturated fat found in olive oil and avocados is linked to decreasing the LDL (bad) cholesterol and polyunsaturated fats found in walnuts and fish have been found to decrease blood pressure and increase HDL (good) cholesterol.
Myth: Food with “Fat-free” label will help me lose weight
Fact: The fat-free food that you pick up may contain even more calories than the full-fat product.
When fat is taken out of the food product, flavour is lost, so additives like sugars, thickeners, or carbohydrates are added to retain its appeal to your taste buds. If your goal is to lose weight, loading up on “fat-free” products may lead to weight gain instead.
Myth: Carbs are “evil”
Fact: Carbohydrates are our body’s essential fuel to function well. Not eating carbs can cause lethargy, crankiness, digestive issues, and even bad breath.
Know your carbs: donuts, pizzas, French fries, pastries – the supposed “carbs” that make you gain weight, actually contain more fat and sugar content than actual carbs. Even refined carbs such as white rice, pasta or baked potato do not make you gain weight when they are eaten in moderation – often the hidden calories are found in the generous servings of sauces and toppings that you eat them with.
In general, you should avoid processed carbs that are deep fried or covered with extra cream, butter or refined sugar. Instead, consume more of complex, unrefined carbs such as brown rice, whole grain bread, and non-starchy vegetables that are high in fiber. Ultimately, what causes unwanted weight gain is excess calories consumed over calories expended, so you should still practice moderation.
Myth: Brown Sugar is healthier than white sugar
Fact: There is barely any difference in nutritional value between brown and white sugar. Choosing brown sugar over white sugar does not make your choice healthier nor better.
Brown sugar does indeed have additional minerals, but in negligible amounts. Brown sugar is used due its physical properties from white sugar when used in baked goods as it retains water differently and gives a different colour. Brown sugar, is sometimes also labelled as unrefined sugar, but just because it is “unrefined” and “brown” does not mean it is better. Do not confuse that with the terms to describe rice!
Myth: Eating small meals boost metabolism
Fact: Numerous studies have concluded that there is no significant effect on metabolism when you eat many small meals, compared to fewer large meals.
What is more important is the total calories consumed, whether you are consuming 3 or 6 meals a day. In fact, participants of research have found it harder to not overeat when they are trying for 6 smaller meals a day as they do not feel satiated after each small meal.
We are likely to explore and experiment with different diets or eating habits throughout our lives, in the quest to improve our well-being. However, while it is enticing to jump onto a new diet bandwagon that promises good results, we should also pay close attention to how our body feels and responds. It may be worthwhile to speak to a doctor or a dietician to guide you on a personalised plan to achieve your desired outcome.