Remember the 1940’s, when smoking made you skinny? Remember five years ago (and still today) when fat made you fat and low-fat, chemical and sugar pumped foods made you thin? I hope these dieting myths are expunged for good. I know we are still working on the fat thing. There are a few more dieting myths that have been coming up frequently in my life while talking to clients and friends. The kind of dieting myths that make me need to count to 10 before answering.
- Carbs are bad, they make you fat. 1, 2, ,3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10….
Carbs are not bad and they do not make you fat. Your abuse of them can make you fat, but let’s not mince words. The Atkins diet started this nonsense and now the Paleo trend is even scaring athletes away from carbohydrates. To keep this simple, I would like to emphasize the importance of carb timing for the active and the athlete which should shed some light on the place of carbs in a sedentary person’s life as well. Carbs are an excellent energy source for immediate use; so any carbs consumed within a few hours before exercise will surely be put to good use and you do not need to sweat about having eaten them. Our bodies do have limited storage space for carbs, which is why they need to be used before you put more in. It is also why they need to be replenished when depleted. Carbs, paired with protein, are also ESSENTIAL after exercise— particularly anabolic exercise. This means anything where there was muscle breakdown: strength training, high intensity, super long runs, etc. These activities deplete glycogen levels and glycogen levels cannot be low when the body is trying to repair damaged (however minor) muscles. You cannot build muscle without carbohydrates and you cannot burn fat without building muscle. Therefore, carbohydrates = GOOD.
- “…But shouldn’t I eat a large variety of foods?” 1, 2, ,3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10….
A client asked me this after showing me the food he ate for a week as I requested. I looked at it and said, “Wow, you are extremely consistent.” He ate the same things every day. I did not mean this to be a negative observation but he took it as such, replying, “Yeah, it’s healthier to eat more variety, right?” I understand why he was confused. I have heard this “variety” thing as being “healthy” too. In his case, he felt he should try eating a burrito for lunch, instead of his normal sandwich. For argument’s sake, let’s assume this sandwich contained the same amount of carbs (simple or complex), both had 20 grams of protein (one turkey, one chicken) and 15 grams of fat (one mayo, one oil from cooked chicken). Now putting aside the quality of these sources, your body does not know the difference between these two meals. The only reason change would be healthier is if the quality of the macronutrients were improved (ie: avocado instead of mayo for fats). Where this “variety” thing does ring true is in micronutrients mores than macronutrients. One should eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables such as blue, purple, green and orange varieties because they each provide different vitamins and minerals.
- Protein shakes are healthy. 1, 2, ,3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10….
When did we decide that everything made in a blender and drank through a straw is called a “protein shake” and what authority told us these things magically make you healthy? I think I need a second count to 10 on this one. Everyone should consume protein every day. A certain amount of grams based on your body weight and activity level (at least .8 grams per kilogram body weight, more for the active/athlete). If you combine protein powder with water, milk, and/or other foods in order to reach that number, great. If you are adding said shake to your daily routine of burgers, bagels and Bon Bons, it does not automatically make your day healthier. If you are replacing a meal with said shake, but you are now drinking 600 calories and 40 grams of sugar blended in with that protein powder (through fruit, yogurt, froyo, etc), maybe you should just stick with the sandwich you had before, which contained just as much protein. I encourage consuming about 20 grams of protein within 30 minutes of exercise via “protein shake” to prevent muscle breakdown and begin muscle repair in the time between your workout and your next meal. I use Gnarly Vegan mixed with water. Delicious. Point is, protein supplementation is important, but don’t let this precious piece of nutrition turn into a buzz word so that people are sucking down Jamba Juice thinking they’re doing themselves a favor. Supplement with protein after exercise or as a meal replacement but make sure your body needs everything else you are mixing your protein with as well.
Don’t believe everything you hear. Especially when it comes to nutrition. A little research and logic goes a long way. Stay Gnarly!