Nutrition Myths: Don’t Be Fooled by the Fads!

By: Dr. Daniel Turo, DC

MYTH: ‘Calories in, calories out’ is all that matters when it comes to weight loss.

The classic picture of weight loss is the old-fashioned scale with “Energy in” on one side and “Energy out” on the other side. Maybe it was this simple at one time. But in today’s world, there are SO many factors that affect your weight. Genetics, history of restrictive dieting, stress, sleep, chronic conditions, hormones, and on and on! You have to address the whole picture when looking to lose weight and improve your overall health. Because at the end of the day, BETTER HEALTH is the goal. Weight loss may, or may not, come when making healthy lifestyle changes. But focusing on a good quality diet and regular exercise in addition to finding ways to manage your stress will always be good for you, despite if there are any changes on the scale! Counting calories may be helpful for some people to stay on track, but make sure you are not ignoring the quality of your food. QUALITY IS KEY!


MYTH: Eating fat makes you fat.

High-fat foods have been wrongfully condemned for years now! Fat is an essential nutrient and high-fat foods are a crucial part of any diet. Fat does not raise blood sugar levels, and it helps you feel satiated for longer, which means it can help you consume less throughout the day. Aim to include foods high in natural fats, like eggs, avocado and olives (and their oils), nuts, and fatty fish at each meal.

MYTH: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

Nope! Eating breakfast is not necessary for everyone. Health benefits are associated with both eating breakfast and skipping it. Skipping breakfast has been linked to improved blood sugar control and reductions in inflammatory markers in some people. If you do eat breakfast, choose foods high in protein and healthy fats instead of foods high in sugar and refined grains! Starting the day with a lot of sugar will spike your insulin and leave you craving more all day long! That means watching what you drink for breakfast too! Fruit juices and coffee beverages are loaded with sugar! Unsweetened coffee, tea, and water will always be the best option!

MYTH: You need to eat small, frequent meals for optimal health.

While some people may benefit from this eating pattern, others benefit from eating fewer meals throughout the day. The key is choosing good quality food so that you are meeting your energy and nutrient needs each day. If you do eat more frequently, be sure to choose foods high in healthy fats and lower in refined carbohydrates to avoid constant spikes in blood sugar and insulin throughout the day.

MYTH: Artificial sweeteners are healthy.

Because of the low-fat craze, foods started using more sweeteners to add flavor. Then came the sugar-free and “diet” craze, which meant these same foods swapped out sugar for artificial sweeteners that don’t provide calories. But, unfortunately, these sweeteners may have a similar negative effect on health! They may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes by leading to negative shifts in gut bacteria and promoting blood sugar dysregulation. And they may be associated with overall unhealthy lifestyle patterns and may increase sugar cravings! Once again, choosing whole foods will always be best.

MYTH: White potatoes are unhealthy.

Potatoes, like a lot of carbs, have been deemed unhealthy, and people tend to avoid them when trying to lose weight. But potatoes are an excellent source of many nutrients, including potassium, vitamin C, and fiber! Plus, they’re more filling than other carb sources like rice and pasta and can help you feel more satisfied after meals. Like anything, moderation is key as is preparation! Be sure to prepare your potatoes in healthier ways like baking, boiling, or sautéing as opposed to frying!

MYTH: Low-fat and diet foods are healthy alternatives.

When you remove the fat from food, you have to add something to make up for the flavor. For this reason, low-fat and diet foods are typically high in sugar and salt. Unaltered higher-fat alternatives are often a healthier choice! In addition, people often feel they can eat limitless amounts of “diet” foods. But as we discussed earlier, artificial sweeteners can still have negative impacts on your health and cravings! Eating foods naturally high in healthy fats and naturally low in sugar will always be superior to eating foods that have been processed and artificially altered.

MYTH: Carbs make you gain weight.

Just as fat has been blamed for promoting weight gain and heart disease, carbs have been shunned by many people over fears that consuming this macronutrient will cause obesity, diabetes, and other adverse health effects. In reality, eating a moderate amount of nutritious carbs that are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals like starchy root vegetables, ancient grains, and legumes can benefit your health! However, carb-rich/sugary foods like cakes, cookies, sweetened beverages, and white bread should be limited, as these foods can increase weight gain and disease risk when eaten in excess. If you’re going to eat carbs, you want them to be providing nutritional value, like fiber and vitamins, not empty-calorie sugary treats! As always, food quality is key!

MYTH: High-cholesterol foods are unhealthy.

It was wrongly believed that eating cholesterol raises your blood cholesterol levels, which was thought to increase the risk of heart disease. High-cholesterol foods like eggs and full-fat yogurt are highly nutritious. Although genetic factors make some people more sensitive to dietary cholesterol, for most people, high-cholesterol foods can be included as part of a healthy diet. Our bodies make their cholesterol, as it is an essential lipid in the body. When more is absorbed from our diets, the body produces less. When we talk about “high cholesterol” as a risk factor for heart disease, we are talking about the lipoproteins that carry cholesterol throughout the blood, not the cholesterol itself!

MYTH: Weight loss is easy!

This may be the biggest myth of all. If you, like two-thirds of Americans, have been overweight in the past, it will always be harder to lose weight and maintain that weight loss. Our bodies do not want to lose weight. The whole point of body fat is to store excess energy for times when food is scarce. So, our bodies are designed to store this energy very easily and use it very sparingly! This is great in times of famine, but not so great for the majority of Americans who eat plenty every day. Add on all those other factors we talked about like chronic stress and sleep deprivation, poor sleep/wake cycle, hormone imbalances, genetics, chronic conditions, and medication use, and weight loss becomes an extremely difficult task! But remember, weight is not the whole story and it is much more than just calories in/calories out. Focus on making changes that promote health, like eating a balanced diet of whole foods, exercising regularly, and managing stress to reduce your risk for disease, increase quality of life, and work toward optimal health!

Sorting through all the health information out there can be difficult and discouraging! We all want the magic solution, but it comes down to finding what works best for you and a healthy lifestyle you will be able to maintain for life! If you need some additional help and guidance along the way, please don’t hesitate to reach out! We are here to help you Get Healthy and Stay Healthy for Life!


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Doctor of Chiropractic