7 Food Myths Nutritionists Wish You Would Stop Believing

As a nutrition scientist and dietitian, there are a lot of different food beliefs out there that surprise me. And as you’re self-isolating at home and likely reading around the internet, it’s more important than ever to separate fact from fiction. Especially as we all look to ways to maintain our weight loss efforts during this strange time. So stick with me as I investigate those that are complete food myths, and explain to you why this is!

Carbs cause weight gain

If we compare protein and carbs (per gram) they have exactly the same amount of energy – 4 calories per gram. The difference is that it is very easy to eat a big bowl of pasta and very hard to eat a big bowl of steak. Simply put, carbs don’t cause weight gain – they’re just not very filling and we simply eat too many of them. So rather than cutting carbs, just watch your portions. Stick with ¼ of your plate for carbs each meal. See here for some great recipes.

Adding coconut oil to smoothies helps to burn fat

Coconut oil is delicious, the smell is amazing and it makes things taste great… BUT, it’s not going to turn your body into a fat-burning machine! Coconut oil is still a fat and it has 9 calories per gram. Use it like any other fat – to add flavour and texture. But eating it by the spoonful or adding it to your coffee or smoothie is not going to give you any fat-burning benefits. On the contrary, it will only increase the calories in your beverage, which of course, can actually cause weight gain over time. Food myth busted!

Vegetarian diets are the healthiest diets

Although vegetarian diets can be very nutritious it’s important to remember that it’s about overall diet quality. A diet of hot chips and tomato sauce is technically vegetarian! So it’s absolutely essential that you are eating a broad range of vegetables, quality protein (vegetarian or not) and wholegrains. See here for an easy vegetarian pasta recipe. 

People with high cholesterol should not eat eggs

This is a bit one that has been passed down through generations. A huge number of research articles agree that the cholesterol found in eggs does not raise the cholesterol in your blood. Your cholesterol levels are more influenced by saturated and trans fats (of which eggs have none). Eggs are both nutritious and filling, and there’s no need to fear them! 

Fruit is the best snack choice

Yes, fruit is a terrific snack! But, have you ever eaten an apple (for example) and still felt hungry? Fruit is not very satiating, so as a snack choice, it is often not enough on its own. Adding some protein or fat to the fruit will help you feel fuller for longer. The next time you are eating an apple, try it with yoghurt, peanut butter, cheese or a few nuts and seeds and see if that keeps you going longer between meals.

Protein shakes make great meal replacements

Protein shakes can be a practical and useful way to get protein into the diet… but not as a ‘meal replacement’. Have your protein shake immediately after your STRENGTH training session, but don’t use it to replace a meal. In fact, most people can ditch the shake altogether and replace it with a simple glass of milk. 

You shouldn’t cook with olive oil

There are some people out there that will have you believe that the low smoking point of olive oil suggests it is harmful to our health when heated. Others think that because it’s a ‘fat’, it should be avoided. However, the Mediterranean Diet has traditionally used olive oil for hundreds of years – in both hot and cold dishes. Studies have confirmed the stability of extra virgin olive oil during cooking, and studies also show that not only is olive oil an excellent source of antioxidants and vitamin E, but when we cook vegetables in extra virgin olive oil, their antioxidant levels increase as well. This means olive oil retains it’s beneficial qualities during cooking, making it the healthiest choice for both your cooked dishes and your raw salads.

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