It took very little research to find these false claims and/or opinions online. All I had to do was go on Pinterest and search ”nutrition”. The moral of this story is so important I’ll tell you now: do not believe everything you read on the internet before doing research of your own, and verifying the credibility of those who are putting out these claims. For more tips on how to spot false or questionable nutrition facts and information, click here.
Now, onto the misconceptions!
1. There are ”good” carbs and ”bad carbs”
It makes perfect sense, right? Good carbs are those that come from whole foods, like whole-wheat cereal products and fruit, bad carbs come from those pesky processed foods, donuts, white bread, potatoes, and rice.
Well, not exactly.
Whether they come from natural, organic, processed, industrial, or any other source, sugar is… you guessed it, sugar! All carbohydrates can be broken down into a certain number of monosaccharides (one molecule) like glucose, fructose, galactose, mannose, arabinose, and xylose. Some of those monosaccharides combine to form disaccharides (two molecules) like sucrose, lactose (yes, lactose is a carb), maltose and trehalose. So, no matter what the source is of your sugar intake, you will most probably (and by that we mean definitely) be consuming one or the other of these carbohydrate molecules.
So where did this idea of ”good” and ”bad” carbs even come about? The difference lies in the other nutrients that come with your sweet treat. Fruits contain sugar, sure, but are also packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytochemical elements, and who knows what else that helps maintain good health, whereas a donut would not have the same quality of nutrients.
This leads to turning carbohydrates into a villain and feeling guilty when consuming foods that have ”bad” carbs. The truth is, your body needs carbohydrates to function properly. Heck, your brain almost exclusively runs on carbohydrates! So don’t feel bad about having that sweet treat once in a while, and don’t avoid fruit, potatoes, or rice because of the carbs they contain.
Can we make more judicious food choices when it comes to carbs? Sure! Try having whole wheat rice, or other whole-grain food products like bulgur or quinoa. Potatoes also contain a large number of vitamins and minerals and are good for you when included in a balanced and healthy diet!
2. ”Eating potatoes makes you fat”
I’m not quite sure when or why this misconception came about, but it seems to be quite old. Instead of questioning the potatoes in your diet, maybe try looking at how you’re eating those potatoes. If they’re always deep-fried and covered in gravy, the cause of your weight gain isn’t the potatoes, but the oil you’re using to cook them. Even oil, in moderation, is part of a healthy diet, but when consumed in excess and frequently, it may cause weight gain, due to its caloric density (about 9 calories per gram of oil).
Potatoes themselves, like any other root vegetable, are very rich in fiber, as well as other vitamins and minerals. There are also many other ways to cook them that won’t increase their caloric value like deep-frying them does. Try lightly covering them with some vegetable or olive oil, and sprinkling on some seasoning before putting them in the oven.
3. ”Following the same meal plan as my friend will give me the same results”
I hate to break it to you, but nutrition isn’t as easy as piggybacking on your friends’ nutritional advice, consultations, and recommendations. Nutrition, kind of like medicine, is an incredibly individualized science. No two humans are exactly alike. There are many things that differentiate us from one another, like our age, sex, height, weight, body fat percentage, level of physical activity, type of physical activity, our lifestyle habits including what you do for school/work/at home, smoking and drinking habits… and the list goes on!
Sure, there are general nutrition guidelines that are backed up by science, no health expert will tell you otherwise, but when it comes to meal prepping, tolerance to certain foods and food quantities, it is best to consult a registered dietitian for your own personalized evaluation.
Nutrition isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of science!
4. ”Apple cider vinegar, ginger water, and lemon water help me burn fat”
Food for thought: if you’re drinking lemon/ginger/apple cider vinegar water in the morning, you’re probably on a ”health kick”, including ”healthy eating” with more fruits and vegetables (and therefore fewer calories), and probably have started working out a little more than before. That is the source of your weight loss, not your morning drink, although it is easier to admit that adding an easy to make morning drink helped you lose weight, and not all the other effort you’re putting into changing your lifestyle. Give yourself some credit!
Besides, there are no reliable scientific research articles to confirm any correlation between consuming those types of drinks on fat loss. Any articles that do exist have an impact factor so low, they barely exist and therefore aren’t very reliable.
5. ”This ad claims that their miracle, organic and all-natural drink will make me lose 15 pounds in 5 days!”
Let’s make this quick:
a. There is no miracle drink/food to clear acne, help you lose weight, or cure any illness.
b. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Check the credibility of the person posting such a claim.
c. If it’s an ad that’s trying to sell you something, it is a marketing tactic to take your money, and they don’t actually care about your health.
d. Speaking of your health, losing anything over 2-3kg of body fat per week is deemed unsafe and unsustainable. If you are losing over 2-3 kg a week, it is very unlikely that all that weight you’re losing is fat. You are either losing water weight and dehydrating yourself (which can lead to its own list of symptoms), or diving into and using up your protein stores, which in turn leads you to lose muscle, which we don’t want! Science shows that those who have more muscle mass have a faster metabolism, and consequently burn more calories daily.
When in doubt about anything food-related, never hesitate to ask a registered dietitian for help!