8 Nutrition Myths That Need to Die
1. “Don’t eat carbs at night, you’ll put on body fat!”
It’s amazing how many people believe this. Is eating carbs at night making you fat? NO! There is really no negative whatsoever to eating carbs or any macro at night. In fact, there’s a benefit for most people because going to bed on a full stomach helps you sleep, and if you work out in the morning, a carb-rich meal will potentially improve your performance in the gym.
2. “When you eat is more important than how much you eat for fat loss.”
Nutrient timing is great for planning and staying on track, and timing carbs can boost performance. There’s even some merit to making sure you eat protein steadily throughout the day. That said, does it really matter when you eat? Is there a direct correlation between meal timing and fat loss? Sorry, but nutrient timing is a small piece of the puzzle. Managing your Caloric intake and sticking to your macros should be your first priority before you start micromanaging your meal timing.
3. “Your body can only absorb 30 grams of protein per meal.”
The myth is that if you eat more than 30 grams of protein in a meal, your body will just poop the rest of it out. This is only partially true. Amino acid transporters in the small intestine work at an upwards limit of 10g per hour, but protein absorption slows down when you eat more of it in one go and you’ll only potentially poop out a little bit. How much? It varies between individuals, so you’d need to do a test. There’s no clear-cut answer to what the optimal protein intake per meal is, but we can say with confidence that you’re not hurting your gains or your health by eating your fill each meal.
4. “Calories don’t matter – just eat clean food/cut carbs to lose body fat.”
Anyone that says Calories don’t matter, that the key to looking sexy as hell is to eat 100% clean and avoid any and all processed food (especially if it’s got carbs) is either giving you the runaround or they’re painfully uneducated in very basic nutrition concepts. Either way, take what they have to say with a grain of salt. I won’t argue against eating a mostly clean/whole foods diet, I just don’t recommend you deny yourself food you love to eat because you probably have room in your diet for a regular treat. The simple fact is that Calories are the way we measure energy intake and expenditure. Yes, there’s a difference between how protein, fat and carbohydrates are processed; a Calorie is not a Calorie in that regard. However, everything breaks down and releases heat energy in the end, everything can be measured as a Calorie, and energy homeostasis is the primary variable you need to manipulate to directly impact changes in body composition.
5. “The scale lies, so just ignore it.”
Look, I have been there: you want the scale to go down but it doesn’t and it hasn’t for a long time and so you are looking for an answer. Then some blog somewhere tells you that scale weight is a useless metric and it’s exactly what you want to hear. The only problem is that it isn’t true, at least not in a black and white sort of way. The scale is just one of many ways you can measure whether or not what you do is working – along with measurements, body fat analysis, how your clothes fit, and even performance tests. It’s also readily available for most people. The simple fact is that you can’t handle the truth of what it says.
6. “You need to lose weight to reduce your body fat percentage.”
This myth ties into myths 4 & 5. If your scale weight remains the same, but you add lean mass to your frame, your body fat percentage will be lower. Muscle literally burns fat while you sleep, so getting more of it should be your focus most of the time!
7. “Detoxing is a great way to lose fat!”
Juicing, detoxing, water fasting, what do they all have in common? They get you into a Calorie deficit without you having to track anything, and you lose weight. That could be a good thing if you’re severely overweight and unhealthy, but most people who go on diets are already healthy. Let’s be honest folks; you aren’t detoxing. You’re starving yourself to lose weight because proper nutrition and exercise aren’t giving you the result you want. You’re just moving from one extreme to the next. This is not a sustainable strategy for living a healthy lifestyle – it’s disordered eating. If you have healthy, functioning kidneys, you are detoxing your body just fine. You’re not holding onto toxins, you just need to get your diet under control and stick to it.
8. “Abs are made in the kitchen.”
When someone says this, they’re emphasizing that losing body fat is paramount to revealing your abs, not doing ab exercises, and that’s certainly true. What most people don’t consider though is that abs aren’t the only muscles you’re showing off when you get lean. Without a well-developed, muscular body that’s been built through rigorous training, you will not look the way you want to no matter how lean you get. Yes, that includes your abdominal section.
That doesn’t mean you need to squat 500 lbs and bench press a house to look good, but without a solid base, you’ll just end up looking small and frail or worse: skinny fat. If that’s your goal, then power to you but I know that you want to look athletic and strong, not small and scrawny.