30 Nutrition Facts that Should Be Common Sense But Aren’t – Gnarly Nutrition

30 Nutrition Facts that Should Be Common Sense But Aren’t

Eli Kerr
Racing expert
Eli Kerr
Eli Kerr
CEO
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There is a staggering amount of information regarding nutrition available to us nowadays. Unfortunately, it’s often confusing, contradictory or just downright wrong. Sifting through this mess can be frustrating and discouraging, leaving some to just give up. Sadly, many real, reliable facts about nutrition have been obscured by all of this madness, even when these truths make absolute sense. To help you figure out what’s actually going on, here is a list of 30 nutrition facts that should be common sense but generally are not.

  1. Don’t Trust The Media – This is probably a pretty accepted rule when it comes to numerous situations. Still, the media has a massive influence on the way many people view nutrition and can greatly impact their decisions. Which is unfortunate. All too often, the reports in the media are spun to favor a certain angle – studies are handpicked or misinterpretated, only part of the facts are given and scare tactics blow results way out of proportion.
  2. Including Medical Talk Shows – Despite being hosted by doctors, medical talk shows are among the worst offenders. A 2014 study published in the British Medical Journal evaluated the claims made by both Dr. Oz and The Doctors in the light of scientific evidence. In total, 80 randomly selected episodes (40 from each show) containing 160 recommendations were included in the study. Of those claims, only 54 percent had actual science to support them.
  3. Be Wary Of The Scale – A regular feature of fitness endeavors, the scale is a tricky tool to use properly. Your weight can fluctuate wildly – even in the course of a single day – and only gives you part of the picture. For example, a person could be gaining (or not losing) weight because of muscle growth. Does that mean that they are somehow less healthy simply because the number on the scale hasn’t gone down? It’s also worth noting that certain health conditions can impact your relationship with the scale, making it difficult to trust those readings. And, of course, there’s always a chance that the scale is simply wrong.
  4. And Calorie Counts – Thanks to wearable technology and a range of fitness-centric apps, people have become more aware of what goes into their body. As well as how many calories they burn. Understanding this balance can be a powerful tool when it comes to controlling your weight. But the science is still a little buggy and should be used with caution. Estimations of calories burned on machines are notoriously inaccurate – exaggerating results by as much as 42 percent. Even the nutrition information reported on a food’s packaging may not be trustworthy. Modern research has shown that a huge number of factors impact exactly how your body processes that food, and how many calories you extract from it.
  5. Trust Your Body (Usually) – If you can’t always trust these external tools, then, the local thing to do is listen to your body. Eat when you’re hungry, don’t eat when you aren’t. And this is generally pretty good advice. Generally. Unfortunately, years of poor dieting habits can actually make your body unresponsive to the signals that aren’t meant to regulate your appetite. Of specific concern in this area is the hormone leptin, which spikes to tell your brain that you’re full. Studies have shown, however, that when leptin levels of chronically high – from regularly overeating – your brain stops listening to those signals. In these cases, your leptin response needs to be completely retrained.
  6. Avoid Artificial Trans Fats – Over the past several years, there’s been plenty of talk about trans fats. And for good reason: This type of fat has been shown to raise your LDL (“bad) cholesterol and lower your HDL (“good”) cholesterol. While trans fats do appear naturally in small amounts in foods, they are routinely added to processed foods in an effort to improve taste, texture and shelf-life. Occasionally, trans fats are called “partially hydrogenated oil” on food labels.
  7. Healthy Fats Are… Healthy – But not all fats are automatically evil. In fact, some fats are extremely good for you. Fat is, after all, one of the three macronutrients and provides a major source of fuel for your body. Unsaturated fats, such as those found in fish, olive oil, avocados and sunflower seeds, have been shown to have a wide range of benefits for the human body. Even the oft-maligned saturated fats – typically found in red meat – are used in the creation of various hormones and can be highly beneficial when eaten in moderation from natural, minimally processed sources.
  8. Don’t Fear Egg – A prime example of our complicated relationship with fat is the egg. Over the years, the reputation of the humble egg has gone from sterling to villainous – several times. For now, however, the experts seems to be in agreement that eggs are incredible for us. Rich in protein, healthy fat numerous micronutrients, eggs are convenient little nutritional packages. And all this is despite their cholesterol contain – which does not appear to have a significant impact on the eaters serum cholesterol levels.
  9. But Run From Added Sugars – In our zeal to avoid fats, though, we’ve become way to dependent on sugar. Added sugar is in nearly every processed food you can think of and could covertly be sabotaging all of your hard work by tricking you into eating way more sugar than you’re aware of.
  10. Juice Isn’t All That Great – Speaking of sugar, let’s talk about juice – something that has enjoyed a powerful spike in popularity in recent years. Often, however, fruit juices contain just as much sugar as soda or other sugary beverages. And the naturally-occurring sugar in fruit hits in your body in a very similar way to that found in those other processed drinks.
  11. Weight Loss Supplements Aren’t The Answer – Looking for help in their weight loss endeavors, people often turn to supplements that claim to make the whole thing easier. Sadly, however, these don’t provide a lasting solution. Very few supplements are proven to actually do what they claim and, even if they do work, the effects generally wear off once you run out of the supplement.
  12. Neither Is Crash Dieting – The same can be said for crash diets – which highly restrict intake and are designed to get dramatic results quickly. Because of the restrictive nature of these programs, people often return right back to their old eating habits as soon as the program ends. Usually, this results in all the lost weight coming right back – plus a few extra pounds.
  13. Make Long-term Habits – A much better approach involves gradually building healthier habits. To successfully manage both your weight and your health, it’s important to think in terms of “lifestyle” rather than “diet.” And lifestyles are a collection of smaller habits.
  14. Start Small – To do this, you need to gradually make changes that you can maintain for years to come. This may mean slowly instituting adjustments to your diet, such as cutting out all sodas or switching unhealthy snacks for whole-food alternatives. The idea is to build a lifestyle that you enjoy, not something that you begrudgingly drag yourself through.
  15. Context Is Everything – Nutrition needs to be viewed from a holistic standpoint – one that considered all of the factors that impact how food interacts with your body. This means thinking about the timing of your meals, you health conditions, your goals, your fitness level, how the foods on your plate will effect each other and your personal preferences. Avoid thinking about certain foods as “good” or “bad.” Instead, think about how that food could be useful or detrimental in that situation.
  16. Don’t Trust Packaging – Food companies make some pretty incredible claims on their packages, claims which should be viewed skeptically. As already discussed, even the nutritional information given on packages is only part of the picture. Companies also use a variety of names to hide some of their more shameful ingredients like sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and trans fats.
  17. Artificial Sweeteners Aren’t A Better Option – So, if we need to be limiting our added sugars, then are artificial sweeteners the way to go? These products are generally low-to-no-calorie, after all. Unfortunately, artificial sweeteners have still be shown to cause a huge number of health problems, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and even certain forms of cancer.
  18. Nor is Low-Fat – What about “low-fat” foods? As discussed above, fats aren’t the villains they were once made out to be. Still, though, the label of low-fat on a typically fatty food tends to draw the health conscious towards it. Sadly, low-fat versions of otherwise fat-rich foods are loaded with sugar, salt and additives to try to replace the gaps in flavor and texture left when fat is removed. If you are trying to limit your fat intake, stick with foods that are naturally low in the nutrient.
  19. Organic Doesn’t Always Equal Healthier – Another popular buzzword that companies rely on these days is “organic.” This term, however, has more to do with how the product was processed than it’s actual nutrition. Of course, that doesn’t meant that seeking out organic food isn’t important. If a food doesn’t fit your nutritional goals, however, the organic option will have the same shortcomings.
  20. The Same Goes For Gluten-Free – And then we come to “gluten-free.” Certain individuals with Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance do need to avoid foods that contain this plant protein. Gluten, in general, has little impact on the overall nutrition of the product though. So, unless you need to avoid gluten, there’s little reason to think that gluten-free products are healthier. In fact, after gluten is removed or excluded from a product, other ingredients may need to be added to can detrimentally effect the nutrition.
  21. And Multi-Grain – Yet another buzzword is “multi-grain,” typically applied to bread and other baked goods. While the slightly darker color or rustic appearance of that bread may make it look healthier, the truth is that “multi-grain” simply means that they product was made from multiple grains – rather than just wheat. This, in general, does not translate to any major nutritional advantages.
  22. And Whole Grain – What about “whole grain?” This term tells use that the entire grain was used in the recipe, rather than just specific parts of it. Generally, this means that there will be a higher fiber content and slightly more protein and fat. Depending on the grain, more micronutrients will also be involved. But, that also means that the product will contain more total calories. So, really the usefulness of these products will depend on your goals/
  23. Junk Food Addiction Is Real – Food scientists are a crafty bunch. Through clever manipulation of the chemistry, taste and texture of foods, they can make foods produce a great “reward response” in your brain. In turn, you will crave more and more of that food because of the spike of chemicals in creates. This is true of most processed foods, making it difficult to control your portions.
  24. Practice Mindful Eating – One of the ways to overcome this issue, is to force yourself to think about what your eating. Rather than mindlessly throwing back an entire bag of chips, conciously think about how much you’re eating. The same goes for all foods.
  25. Go For Whole Foods – You may have noticed that many of the issues we’ve covered so far are focused on processed foods. This is because whole food, by definition, cannot be tampered with. Sticking to whole foods – those in their natural state – then, is a perfect way to clean up your diet and avoid all this trickery.
  26. Less Is More – As mentioned, one of the distinct benefits of whole foods is that they are minimally processed. But this not only mean that they have very little added to them; It means that very little is taken away. When a food is processed, beneficial aspects of it’s nutrition can be damaged or removed so that they can no longer be used by your body.
  27. Grass-Fed Is The Way To Go – You may have noticed that, occasionally, meat and dairy products are specifically labeled as “grass-fed.” What’s that mean? Simply put, the animal was fed grass, rather than grains in a feed-lot. But, more importantly, this also means that that product contains higher levels of healthy fats and is nutritionally superior to other options.
  28. Plenty Can Be Done Without Chemicals – Humanity has been eating natural, whole-foods for a long, long time. And done just fine. So, why are we suddenly so dependent on artificial additives? Because these products allow for a faster, more reliable and cheaper production of identical foods. But the truth is that they are largely unnecessary and – as we’ve seen – tend to do more harm then good.
  29. Be Careful Of Trends – Another pattern you may have noticed on this list is how many buzzwords we encountered. This illustrates an important point: We need to be careful not to fall into trends. Often, popular shifts in nutrition are based on myths and misinformation or try to take something that is beneficial for a relatively small group and make it work for everyone.
  30. There Is No Miracle Food – Although is tends to be yet another trend, it deserves it’s own slot on the list. There is no one food that will solve all your problems or instantly achieve all your goals. As convenient and wonderful as this would be, we each need to follow a diet that works for us as individuals and consider our entire lifestyle when making dietary decisions.
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