Before you take a dive into the next fad diet or run to Whole Foods, it’s important to know what’s factually correct and what’s downright wrong. It will save you time and money from wreaking havoc on your body and bank account. Keep pumping muscle in the gym with the right nutrition information—continue clicking to find out.
Fact: There’s a misconception that following a low-carb diet is dangerous, leading to nutrient deficiencies and heart-related issues. The truth is carbohydrates are allowed on a low-carb diet—it’s all based on your macronutrient split and when you’re exercising. Nutrient deficiencies are highly preventable on a low-carb diet, non-starchy fruits and vegetables are rampant with vitamins and minerals, and they also act as a high-carb replacement.
As for heart-related problems, studies have demonstrated that a low-carb diet can reduce triglyceride, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels because healthy fats are consumed over saturated and trans fats. A healthy low-carb diet is a diet that contains healthy fats, moderate protein, and carbohydrates stemming from low-starch fruits and vegetables.
Fact: All calories are not created equal. For starters, a calorie is a unit of energy and provides energy—stemming primarily from protein, carbs, and fat. When fat is burned, it releases nine calories per gram (whether it’s a healthy fat or saturated fat) and when carbs and protein are digested, they release four calories per gram.
Protein also has a thermic effect on food, meaning it takes twice the amount of energy to metabolize it—you burn more calories when you consume protein. There are also empty calories, which are foods that are processed and made with high-fructose corn syrup. These calories have a negative impact on our health and will cause the scale to go up.
Fact: Frozen fruits and vegetables have just as many nutrients as fresh ones. Fresh fruits and veggies produce trypsin and chymotrypsin, which are enzymes that are responsible for the loss of color, flavor, and nutrients after they’re harvested. But freezing fruits and veggies stops this reaction from happening—allowing for greater nutrition. The best frozen foods to purchase are ones that contain vitamin A, carotenoids, and vitamin E—carrots, leafy greens, and broccoli.
Fact: Fad diets are marketed so they seem like they will work for you. Everyone’s nutritional background is different—the South Beach Diet may work for one person but not you. A healthy diet shouldn’t contain drastic lifestyle changes but should be about changes that can be maintained over time. My philosophy is that a person should still be able to enjoy some of their favorite foods while learning healthier eating patterns that create a diet-friendly environment.
Fact: No one said you must shop at Wegmans or Whole Foods. It’s possible to eat healthy on a budget—become a smart shopper and look for the deals. Canned veggies and frozen fruits are packed with nutrition, and there are grocery stores like Aldi and Price Chopper that sell food items that are low in price. Aldi even sells meat, and the quality is excellent.
Fact: Drastically reducing your calorie intake will lead to weight loss, but the initial weight that is lost is fluid. With fasting, your body enters a conservation mode, making it more challenging to burn calories. Additionally, people easily regain the weight they lost—if not, more.
Fact: A juice cleanse creates a misconception that they are benefiting our bodies. Our bodies have a detox system through the liver, kidneys, and GI tract—working together to rid the body of harmful toxins and substances. The first few days of a juice cleanse will deplete a person’s glycogen stores, making them feel tired, irritable, and shaky. And after a cleanse is over, a person is likely to gain whatever weight they lose back.
Fact: You can eat an egg or two a day, and there will be no impact on cholesterol levels. Yolks are also the most nutritious part. They’re high in the fat-soluble vitamins and provide added protein for working muscles.
Fact: Following a gluten-free diet does not mean all carbs must be avoided. There are food sources that are gluten-free, such as potatoes, quinoa, millet, brown rice, corn, and barley. It’s also important to note that gluten can be found in unsuspecting products because of how the food is manufactured. Therefore, it’s always important to read the ingredient label to ensure gluten is not present.
BY COURTNEY ANAYA, CPT