Oct 16 2014

Nutrition Misconceptions

How many of you have heard “Carbs are bad?” 

What about “If you want to build muscle, eat more protein?”

 And my favorite, “Don’t eat after 6 p.m.” 

Many people these days are convinced that going “free” of something is the way to lose weight and become healthier.  Gluten-free, sugar-free, carb-free, lactose-free, etc. 

When I hear these common misconceptions about food and nutrition I feel a strong obligation to correct them, but more than this I want to make sure individuals understand why comments like these are false.  There is a reason why there are five different food groups: Carbohydrates, Protein, Fat, Dairy and Fruits & Vegetables.  Okay, maybe that is six, but you get the point.  And, it’s because our bodies need all of these food sources!

 Let’s look at why each food group is essential to overall health and how they work together to maintain the bodies we have and work toward achieving the bodies we want.

Carbohydrates: The body’s preferred fuel source.  Carbohydrates in the form of whole grain breads, cereals, and pasta provide energy to the body in the form of glucose.  What some don’t realize is that fruit and milk products also contain carbohydrates.  So, if you are looking to cut out carbs you may want to reconsider.  Without proper carbohydrate consumption the body can go into ketoacidosis, a process in which the body burns fat for fuel.  This can lead to low blood sugar and in the severe cases coma and death.    

Protein:  Composed of amino acids, or the building blocks of protein, this food group is essential in muscle repair, proper growth and maintenance, but did you know your hair and nails are made of protein too?  But just like with anything, there can be too much of a good thing.  The average American consumes enough protein in their diet.  Over consumption of protein, most commonly in the form of protein powders or supplements, can introduce the body to harmful metals, damage the kidneys and liver, and lead to weight gain. 

Fat:  If you want to lose fat, cut fat out of the diet.  Right? 

Well, not necessarily.  The body needs a minimum amount of fat to promote cognitive function, absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, & K, and aid in regulating cholesterol and glucose levels.  Choosing the type and amount of fat is key.  Choose mono- and poly-unsaturated fats ,which will be liquids at room temperature.  Good sources include olive, canola, peanut, and safflower oil.  Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat, can be found in salmon, tuna, trout, mackerel, ground flaxseed, and any nuts and seeds.  These fatty acids may have a particular benefit toward heart health.

Dairy:  That milk mustache looks good on you! Loaded with calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus, low-fat dairy products are a nice addition to a meal or can be eaten alone as a snack.  Most recently, milk has been bashed for being packed with hormones and steroids.  Against the odds, all milk contains small levels of hormones that are naturally produced from the cow itself.  These hormones pose no significant health risk when consumed by humans, mostly because they are broken  down and removed by your body before entering the digestive track.  For more information look here.         

Fruits & Vegetables: This category is a no brainer!  Antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals of all sorts and a good source of water, fruits and vegetables should be eaten at every meal.  Go for the darker color, what is in season, and what you can afford.  Make a simple salad by chopping tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onion and dressing it with Italian salad dressing.

Diets and weight loss products come and go, but will always be left is real food.  Focus on quality, enjoyment, and balance of your meals and be assured that you are doing right by your health when choosing to eat from all of the above food groups.