We’re back with another 5 mainstream nutrition myths that have been debunked by scientific research.
Myth #11 - All calories are created equal. It doesn’t matter which types of food they are coming from.
It is simply false that “all calories are created equal.” Different foods go through different metabolic pathways and have direct effects on fat burning and the hormones and brain centers that regulate appetite.
A high protein diet, for example, can increase the metabolic rate by 80 to 100 calories per day and significantly reduce appetite. In one study, such a diet made people automatically eat 441 fewer calories per day. They also lost 11 pounds in 12 weeks, just by adding protein to their diet.
There are many more examples of different foods having vastly different effects on hunger, hormones, and health. Because a calorie is not a calorie.
Not all calories are created equal because different foods and macronutrients go through different metabolic pathways. They have varying effects on hunger, hormones, and health.
Myth #12 - Low-fat foods are healthy because they are lower in calories and saturated fat.
When the low-fat guidelines first came out, the food manufacturers responded with all sorts of low-fat “health foods.” The problem is… these foods taste horrible when the fat is removed, so the food manufacturers added a whole bunch of sugar instead.
The truth is, excess sugar is incredibly harmful, while the fat naturally present in food is not.
Processed low-fat foods tend to be very high in sugar, which is very unhealthy compared to the fat that is naturally present in foods.
Myth #13 - Eating red meat increases the risk of all sorts of diseases, including cancer.
We are constantly warned about the “dangers” of eating red meat. It is true that some studies have shown negative effects, but they were usually lumping processed and unprocessed meat together.
The largest studies (one with over 1 million people, the other with over 400 thousand) show that unprocessed red meat is not linked to increased heart disease or type 2 diabetes. Two review studies have also shown that the link to cancer is not as strong as some people would have you believe. The association is weak in men and nonexistent in women.
So… don’t be afraid of eating meat. Just make sure to eat unprocessed meat and don’t overcook it, because eating too much-burnt meat may be harmful.
It is a myth that eating unprocessed red meat raises the risk of heart disease and diabetes. The cancer link is also exaggerated, the largest studies find only a weak effect in men and no effect in women.
Myth #14 - The gluten-free diet only applies to patients with Celiac Disease
It is often claimed that no one benefits from a gluten-free diet except patients with celiac disease. This is the most severe form of gluten intolerance, affecting under 1% of people.
But another condition called gluten sensitivity is much more common and may affect about 6-8% of people, although there are no good statistics available yet. Studies have also shown that gluten-free diets can reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, schizophrenia, autism, and epilepsy.
However… people should eat foods that are naturally gluten-free (like plants and animals), not gluten-free “products.” Gluten-free junk food is still junk food. But keep in mind that the gluten situation is actually quite complicated and there are no clear answers yet. Some new studies suggest that it may be other compounds in wheat that cause some of the digestive problems, not the gluten itself.
Studies have shown that many people can benefit from a gluten-free diet, not just patients with celiac disease.
Myth #15 - Saturated fats and trans fats are similar - both are bad fats
The mainstream health organizations often lump saturated and artificial trans fats in the same category… calling them “bad” fats.
It is true that trans fats are harmful. They are linked to insulin resistance and metabolic problems, drastically raising the risk of heart disease. However, saturated fat is harmless, so it makes absolutely no sense to group the two together.
Interestingly, these same organizations also advise us to eat vegetable oils like soybean and canola oils. But these oils are actually loaded with unhealthy fats… one study found that 0.56-4.2% of the fatty acids in them are toxic trans fats!
Many mainstream health organizations lump trans fats and saturated fats together, which makes no sense. Trans fats are harmful, saturated fats are not.
Stay tuned to the final part where we debunk more mainstream nutrition myths!