There is a ton of nutrition information available at your fingertips. I’m not saying that nutrition information is full of lies, but I would certainly not disagree if someone else said it. Because nutrition information is full of lies.
What kind of lies? Well, I’m glad you asked:
- Complex carbs are better than sugar
- You need sugar for energy
- You have to eat lots of small meals every day
- Calories are the only thing that matter
- You have to eat three meals a day
- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day
- Red meat is bad for you
- Vegetable oils are the good oils
- Fruit contains “healthy sugar”
- Fat is bad
The term “complex carbs” was coined to describe a string of sugars. It’s “complex” because it can be broken down into simpler compounds…sugars. Are you noticing a trend? The idea of a complex carb is just another way of saying a long string of sugars. So saying that complex carbs are “better” than sugar is like saying sugars are better than sugar. It makes no sense.
When you eat complex carbs (like wheat, potatoes, rice, etc.) your body is going to break them down into sugars. The only real difference is that complex carbs will, sometimes, break down a little slower than pure sugar. But it’s still just sugar.
Speaking of sugar, one of the biggest lies is that you must have sugar for energy. If you don’t eat carbs, you will just cease to exist. Of course, this is patently false. You can only burn two things for energy, carbs (sugar) or fat. Folks who insist on needing carbs (sugar) for energy are either unaware of ketones (what you get when you burn fat for fuel) or they are so engrossed in their dogma that they fail to accept that there is a more viable alternative. Eating lots of good fat and very low carbs will kickstart your body to burning fat for fuel…and you won’t need any sugar in your diet.
The common refrain for this is that you have to constantly be digesting food in order to ensure you have a fast metabolism. The truth is, though, there is no evidence to support the idea that eating lots of small meals throughout the day is beneficial in any way. In fact, it can actually cause weight gain…because it can lead to constantly raised insulin levels. So, here’s the rule: Eat when you’re hungry.
Calories a BIG point of contention with a lot folks. I haven’t yet figured out why, but people get all kinds of wrapped around the axle on the subject of calories. The classic mantra of “calories in vs. calories out” frames the debate in the wrong context. Calories are not physical things. They are measurements of heat energy. Calories are measured by straight up burning stuff and seeing how much heat is produced. The problem with that is your body isn’t a furnace. It’s a series of biochemical actions and reactions. Fat molecules cause a certain kind of biochemical response. Protein molecules cause a different kind of response. And carb molecules cause yet a different kind of response. Just because a kind of food produces a certain amount of heat in an oven does not mean that the molecules of that food cause the same kinds of reaction in your body.
The idea is to limit the kinds of calories (carb molecules) that cause insulin to spike and lead to inflammation and metabolic disorder. 900 calories of fat is NOT the same as 900 calories of sugar.
It’s quality that matters more than quantity.
This is related to the idea that you have to eat a bunch of small meals every day. Someone, somewhere, I don’t know who and I don’t know where, decided that we humans should eat three meals per day.
And there was much rejoicing.
But there’s nothing rational or necessary about it. If you’re eating because of the time on the clock, then you’re doing it wrong. You have to listen to your body. You don’t have to eat three meals per day. You don’t have to worry if you only eat one or two meals. The real thing you need to focus on is: Are you hungry? If you are, then eat. You’re not, then don’t.
Simple. Easy to remember.
This is another one tied to the whole idea of eating a certain number of meals per day. If you think you have to eat as soon as you wake up, then you’re doing it wrong. If you’re doing it right, you’ll wake up without an appetite, because you are burning fat.
I’m going to steal a phrase from Maria Emmerich: Breakfast isn’t the most important meal of the day, your FIRST meal of the day is the most important meal of the day.
If you’re not hungry until the afternoon, then eat in the afternoon. Don’t eat just because it’s the morning. Eat when you’re hungry.
This is a throwback to the whole “Diet-Heart Hypothesis” that states that increased saturated fats will increase cholesterol and increased cholesterol will cause heart disease and cardiovascular disease. It is well-known that red meat, which is full of awesome saturated fat, will increase cholesterol (which is not a bad thing). So by transitive property (that’s right…math words), eating red meat will cause your heart to die.
The only problem with this idea is that there is no evidence to support any part of that hypothesis (except for the well-known fact that saturated fat causes higher cholesterol (a good thing)). Red meat will increase HDL (good) cholesterol, and it will increase the molecule size of LDL (bad) cholesterol. The increased size of LDL means the LDL molecules are too big to collect in the blood vessels. So that’s a good thing.
In short…eat steak.
I’ve written about this before. Vegetable oils are full of Omega-6 fatty acids, which cause inflammation. The process involved in extracting oils from kernels, seeds, and vegetables is not pretty. It’s not a simple matter of squishing stuff and collecting the oil (like olive oil or coconut oil). For the vast majority of vegetable oils, it’s a complex chemical process and it’s nasty. It’s best to avoid them entirely. Stick to good saturated fats.
Fruits contain fructose. It’s “fruit sugar.” Fructose can only be metabolized in the liver. And when it’s metabolized in the liver, it turns to fat. Fatty liver. Skeletal fat. Fat everywhere. Fructose is awful.
Not all sugars are created equally. Fructose is definitely the worst sugar you can eat. Don’t be fooled by the fact that they grow on trees.
This is the big one. Fat has been demonized for too many years, particularly saturated fat. But, don’t fear the fat. Your brain is over 70% fat. Every cell in your body needs fat. Fat is absolutely important. Don’t be fooled.
Fat is where it’s at.
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