There are hundreds of books on nutrition and diet littering the shelves of your local bookstore. Many of them are oftentimes directly telling you to do contradictory things. It’s no surprise that many people have thrown their hands up in a mixture of despair and disgust over the lack of clear, reliable information out there. There is good reason for this – nutrition is an area that we continue to learn new things about and there are a shocking number of well researched yet dissenting opinions. Further, different nutritional plans and diets will work for different people – just because a Mediterranean diet may work for you does not mean it’s the one true diet. That being said, here are some general truths that are often overshadowed in the larger debate:
Myth 1: Avoid the egg yolk when having an egg.
We’ve professed our love for eggs for some time. And while everyone knows that the whites are a great source of easily digestible protein there are still many people who look at the yolk with disdain given it’s high cholesterol content. Putting aside the cholesterol, the yolk is also one of the most nutrient dense pieces of food out there, packed with things you probably do not get enough of (Vitamin D, anyone?). Going back to the cholesterol, there is now increasing research that would suggest the cholesterol in eggs is actually of the good variety and not only is a net win for heart health but also is integral in hormone regulation of the sort that helps the body maintain lean muscle. So next time don’t go for that egg white omelet.
Myth 2: A calorie is a calorie is a calorie is a…
Not all calories are created equal. A calorie coming from a Twinkie is not the same as a calorie from broccoli. Your body processes different types of sugars, carbohydrates and proteins in radically different ways. Said another way, you will end up feeling and looking radically different on a diet of 2,000 calories worth of Twinkies than you will on a diet of 2,000 worth of fruits and vegetables. Despite the somewhat obvious nature of this point, many people persist in using calorie counting as the measure of the quality of their diet. Just like the scale, calorie counting is a useful tool only when used in conjunction with a good understanding of the other tools at your disposal. While it may seem like more work, it’s important at the very least to categorize your calories into what macronutrient food groups they are coming from – this will have just as much (if not significantly more) impact on your outcomes than the simple number of calories.
Myth 3: Dinner should be the smallest meal of the day.
Myth 4: as long as I go to the gym every day, I can eat ANYTHING.
You cannot out-exercise a bad diet. While exercise is without a doubt important to looking and feeling your best, diet has a far larger impact on your health outcomes than the amount of exercises you put in. Don’t misinterpret this to mean you cannot have a cheat day upon occasion, but recognize that an extra thirty minutes in the gym does not suddenly make that daily McGriddle an acceptable form of breakfast.