Everyone is getting on the fitfam train, and it’s all for the better. I mean, the number of people fighting illnesses like diabetes and high cholesterol is climbing at an alarming rate. And to make it worse, people are getting these illnesses at much younger ages.
In a bid to do better, people are trying to eat healthier, consuming nutritional information from all kinds of sources. Unfortunately, there’s currently an excess of information, which are many times conflicting, making this fitfam thing harder and confusing. I’m often shocked at some of the things people believe to be true. Some of them have existed so long, things everyone has come to accept them as factual, even though they lack any scientific backing.
I’m going to highlight some common ones and share the actual facts. Hopefully, after reading this article you’ll be better informed.
Myth #1: Eating past 7 PM will make me fat
Fact: Don’t eat anything heavy two – three hours before going to bed. This rule is to prevent your food from coming back up when you lay down to sleep and causing you symptoms like heartburn and other gastrointestinal symptoms. Eating very close to bedtime can also make falling asleep difficult, as the digestion process keeps your body temperature slightly elevated. This is the exact opposite of what you want happening when you are trying to fall asleep.
Myth #2: Honey is natural, so it doesn’t have calories or sugar
Fact: Honey contains natural sugars, mostly fructose and then some glucose, and thus has calories. In fact, it has similar amounts of calories as in table sugar; a teaspoon of sugar has sixteen calories, while a teaspoon of honey has twenty-one. It is however healthier than sugar because it provides little amounts vitamins and phytonutrients not found in normal table sugar.
Myth #3: Egg yolks are bad for me
Fact: Yolks are rich in fat and cholesterol, and this is what scares people. However, the fat in eggs are mostly unsaturated, the heart healthy kind, and recent studies have shown that cholesterol found in foods, that is, dietary cholesterol, doesn’t increase the cholesterol in your blood.
Also, the yolk is packed with most of the vitamins and mineral that an egg offers and also contains half of the protein content. So long as you have them in moderation, don’t be quick to toss those yolks out!
Myth #4: Carbs make me fat
Fact: It is not carbs making you fat, it is eating excess calories than your body needs that makes you fat. These calories can come from any food, carbs, protein, fats, even fruits! They all have calories, just that some have a lot more than others. This means that even if you exclude carbs from your diet, but still eat excess calories from other foods, you’ll still gain weight. Carbs are not the enemy, just eat them in moderate amounts.
Myth #5: Sugar free means healthy or zero calorie
Fact: A product is sugar free? Great! But it might still be high in fat, other carbs and sodium. A sugar free product can still be high in calories from the other components in them. Let’s use the example of a sugar free biscuit: while it might be free of actual sugar, you have to remember that biscuits also include flour, butter, milk, eggs and so on. All these are calorie sources. So be sure to read the nutrition labels, so you know exactly what you are eating. Don’t let the bright “No Sugar” label make you think you can have as many as you like. Tread with caution.
Myth #6: I can choose where I lose fat
Fact: Many of us want to believe we can burn fat in certain areas we want, our bellies or arms, while keeping it other areas we want it. Unfortunately, the body does not work like that, it burns fat anywhere it wants and at different rates. Also, there are no special foods that burn fat in specific places. To lose fat in one place, be ready to lose it in other places as well, and it only happens via a calorie deficit, that is, consuming lesser calories than your body burns.
Myth #7: Since smoothies and juices are healthy, I can have a lot
Fact: Fruits and their juices contain a natural sugar called fructose, which accounts for the calories in them. Juices contain a reasonable number of calories in a small amount even if they are 100% natural. To put things in perspective 50cl of natural apple juice has 240cal, and a 50cl bottle of Coca-Cola has 210cal. Smoothies can be calorie bombs as well, especially if they contain lots of yoghurt and fruit. On the plus side, smoothies preserve the fiber of the fruits, unlike juices where they are mostly lost.
Myth #8: I must exercise in the morning
Fact: You can exercise anytime, just get it done! Timing does not affect the effectiveness of your work out.
There are many more myths, of course! My advice is to ensure you get information from trusted sources, rather than WhatsApp broadcasts…if you know what I mean.
Lastly, remember that not every fitness enthusiast is a trained nutritionist or dietician.