Get the facts on popular nutrition beliefs!

Posted on Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Written by Claire Bilik, with information from Dietitians of Canada

Confused about the latest nutrition trends? Unsure about what’s healthy? The following is a list of myths discussed on this page:

Myth: Snacking late at night will make me gain weight

Fact: The time of day does not change the nutritional content of a food. A cookie is a cookie- no matter the time. The reason late-night snacking may lead to weight gain is because you can consume more than you need, especially if you choose high energy snacks. Plan ahead so that you won’t be tempted to grab candy or chips. Have snack size portions of fresh veggie sticks, whole fruit & whole grain cereal with milk to munch on. Remember only snack when you are hungry.  Try not to use snacks as something to do when you are stressed, bored or sad.

Myth: I can lose weight effectively if I avoid carbohydrates

Fact: Avoiding carbohydrates may help you lose weight temporarily, but this is because you are not eating as much food and are consuming less energy. These low-carb diets tend to be hard to stick with in the long run. Cutting out carbohydrates will result in missing out on the nutritional benefits of healthy sources of carbohydrates like whole grains, fruit, starchy vegetables and legumes. A more effective and long term weight loss plan involves using Canada’s Food Guide to create a balanced diet and exercising regularly.

Myth: Gluten-free diets are a healthier option for everyone

Fact: Gluten is a protein that is found in some grains such as wheat, barley, & rye, as well as foods that contain these grains. Gluten-free foods are not healthier than non-gluten free foods. Read the label to determine if a processed gluten-free food has added sugar, salt & fat to increase taste. Those who do not have celiac disease & are not allergic or intolerant do not need to avoid gluten.  When choosing grains go for whole grains more often.

Myth: Energy drinks are the best way to get energized

Fact: Energy drinks claim to give you energy and you may feel a short energy burst after drinking one but this burst doesn’t last.  Energy drinks tend to contain a lot of sugar and many also contain large doses of caffeine. Too much caffeine can result in side effects such as rapid heartbeat and insomnia. Energy drinks are NOT sports drinks. In fact energy drinks should not be consumed during exercise. A healthier way to get energized is to eat healthy, get active, stay hydrated and get enough sleep.

Myth: It is too difficult to eat the amounts of vegetables and fruits recommended by Canada’s Food Guide

Fact: The recommendation from Canada’s Food guide is to consume 7-10 servings of vegetables and fruit each day. This may seem impossible but the serving sizes are relatively small. A medium sized fruit or half a cup of vegetables counts as one serving. Try including one or two servings of vegetables or fruit at every meal and snack to get all the servings you need. Choose vegetables and fruit more often than juice.

Myth: Everyone must drink 8 glasses of water a day to stay hydrated

Fact: Water is the best way to stay hydrated, but other liquids such as milk & tea are also hydrating. The amount of water a person needs to stay hydrated can differ each day and depends on many factors such as gender, body size, activity level & even the weather. When you are active or when it is hot & humid your body needs more fluids.

Myth: Foods that claim they are “low-fat” or “fat-free” are always healthy

Fact: A lot of foods can be low-fat or fat-free and be unhealthy. Pop and candy may have a small amount of fat, but are high in sugar and calories and are low in nutrients. All fats are not created equal. There are some foods that are higher in fat and are considered healthy. Fish, avocados and nuts are all high in heart healthy fats. Be sure to read food labels and don’t judge a food solely on its fat content.

Myth: The more protein I eat the more muscle I will build

Fact: Building muscle s not just dependent on protein intake. A strength training program, sufficient calories from a healthy diet, proper recovery time and getting enough sleep are all important for building muscle.  Eating more protein adds extra calories and does not build bigger muscles.  Most people obtain enough protein from their diet, but it may be helpful for strength training athletes to consume more protein. Choose protein rich foods from Canada’s Food Guide such as lean meat, fish, eggs, lower fat milk and legumes to meet your protein requirements.  Choose food sources of protein more often than supplements or protein powder.

Myth: Nutritionists and Registered Dietitians can provide the same quality of nutrition advice

Fact: Dietitians are your best source of nutrition information. A Registered Dietitian has a university degree in nutrition, has completed a dietetic internship or a combined masters program and belongs to a provincial regulatory college. The term “Registered Dietitian” is protected by law, whereas the term “nutritionist” is not.

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