There’s a lot of information out there about what foods are healthy, what foods will cause cancer, when you should exercise, how much water you should drink… But unfortunately, there’s a lot of false information out there that has somehow worked its way into the canon of health knowledge. Read on to find out which facts you think you know about nutrition are actually just myths.
Myth #1: “64 ounces of water per day is necessary for good hydration.”
Fact: The eight-cups-of-water-per-day recommendation has been disproved in a number of clinical trials, according to WebMD, but the myth lives on. In fact, you’re better off listening to your body and drinking when you feel thirsty. And while water is typically best since it adds no calories or sugar to your diet, any liquid counts towards hydration.
Myth #2: “Stop eating at 6 (or 7, or 8) p.m.”
Fact: No arbitrary time of daily eating cessation has been proven to be helpful in preventing weight gain. Instead, eat at the time that means you’ll be less likely to get hungry and eat a “second dinner” before bed, and watch out when it comes to late-night snacking on unhealthy foods like cookies and chips.
Myth #3: “To lose weight, cut out carbs.”
Fact: From the slightly outdated Atkins diet to the more modern (well, kind of) paleo diet, cutting out carbohydrates like bread and pasta has been said to be one of the best ways to shed pounds.
In truth, it’s more about how you eat carbs than getting rid of them entirely: combining carbohydrates with protein, fat, and fiber mitigates the blood sugar spike that can come from eating refined carbs on their own.
Myth #4: “Skipping meals encourages weight loss.”
Fact: It’s true that you’ll cut out some calories, but skipping meals can often lead to you feeling hungrier and overeating later on. Plus, meal-skipping, which is often used in intermittent fasting diets can mess with your metabolism and lead to more weight gain if you don’t do it the right way.
Myth #5: “Everyone should take a multivitamin.”
Fact: The “quick fix” to leaving vegetables off your plate is, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, not actually that helpful, and can often result in levels of certain vitamins and minerals that are higher than the recommended daily intake. Instead, review your diet and try to add in foods rich in the nutrients you’re missing, or, if necessary, supplement with specific vitamins and minerals rather than a multivitamin.
Myth #6: “Switching to a vegetarian diet will help me lose weight.”
Fact: While cutting out meat can be part of a healthy diet for some individuals, and while vegetarians tend to have lower BMIs than meat-eaters, a vegetarian diet isn’t inherently healthy – just think about all of the meat-free ice cream, cheese, French fries, and sodas you could consume on a vegetarian diet.
Myth #7: “Avoid nuts due to their high fat content.”
Fact: Nuts are actually a great snack, because they’re rich in protein, fiber, and, yes, healthy fats, that will keep you feeling fuller and more satisfied for longer amounts of time.
Myth #8: “All fat is bad.”
Fact: Speaking of fat, this should not be a dirty word. While you should certainly avoid saturated and trans fats, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are actually necessary for nutrient absorption, proper cell membrane function, and nerve health.
Myth #9: “Negative calorie foods like celery can help me lose weight.”
Fact: Various foods like celery, grapefruit, and cabbage have been said to help burn calories, since the energy expenditure of chewing and digesting them is more than the calories you take in by eating them. The truth is that while some substances like caffeine can temporarily increase your metabolism, no food is going to actually burn fat as you eat it.
Myth #10: “Raw vegetables improve digestion with plant enzymes.”
Fact: According to a dietician and raw food expert interviewed by Eating Well, the plant enzymes found in uncooked vegetables will not help you digest and absorb nutrients better from your food. Not only does your stomach acid denature these enzymes, humans can’t even use plant enzymes!
Have you been fooled by any of these myths? Tell us in the comments section below!