5 myths about diet

What myths do we still believe?

There are a lot of misconceptions in the food and fitness area. That is why I prepared an article that will have two parts and will be devoted to those myths. In this part, I will be talking mainly about diet, and in the next one, I will share some myths from the exercise point of view.

Opinions about what to eat, how to eat, when to eat why to eat or not eat, when not to eat it, what to exclude from the diet, and how often to eat are basically endless and if you ask one of those questions, the answer will most probably depend on the person you ask. Nevertheless, there are still some opinions that still persevere in the public mind but they were proven not to be quite so truthful. And most often they make the whole fitness journey so much more difficult than it has to be.

1. Carbs at night cause weight gain

This is one of those things that almost everyone heard. You can have your carbs on lunch but don’t you dare to eat them at dinner. And forget about eating fruit after lunch. Everyone knows that those carbs that we eat at dinner will transform into fat overnight and we will be 10 pounds heavier the next day. It is because our bodies are processing carbs differently at 2 pm than at 8 pm.

That was sarcasm and none of that is true. Once more for the ones in the back that didn’t hear me right – it is not true. Yeah, it is great to eat carbs during the day because it is simply a good source of quick energy and therefore we can feel less tired during the day. But if your daily intake of carbs is moderate, it, frankly, doesn’t matter when you eat them. The body doesn’t store fat overnight, it is a question of weeks and months (and the same goes for losing it) so if you eat carbs in the evening, they won’t be able to store themselves as fat so quickly.

I am not saying that you have to eat carbs in the evening. Someone maybe likes eating their carbs during the day and eating only fats and protein for dinner. All I am saying is that you don’t have to be afraid to eat bread, rice, potatoes or …even an APPLE at night. Yeah, there is such thing as the glycemic index of food which tells us how much the certain food increases the blood sugar levels and that can have an influence on storing fat or feeling tired. Food that is mainly carbs will have, indeed, quite a high glycemic index, that is true, but don’t you even worry. If you combine it well with fats and protein, that index is decreasing and you will be just fine.

Also, last but not least I am not saying that I recommend eating the whole bag of chips, drink two liters of cola and have a cake after that, of course not. Everything in moderation. I just want to say that the fear of carbohydrates for dinner is completely unfounded.

2. You have to avoid carbs in general

As I was saying in my article about energy expenditure, weight loss, weight gain, and maintenance will always depend on the calorie intake and outtake. If you are in a calorie surplus CONSISTENTLY FOR EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME, it doesn’t matter if you eat only fats and protein, you will gain weight. Even from the name calorie surPLUS, you can see, that we are eating MORE than our body needs and that is why it stores the unused energy (most usually in the form of fat).

That goes for the opposite as well, if you are in a calorie deficit, your body will try to use up the stored energy because it doesn’t have enough from food. That is why you don’t have to avoid carbs to lose weight. Moderation with all three macronutrients is enough.

The majority of people lose weight on a low-carb diet just because they eat fewer calories in general. They no longer eat big portions of pasta or bread and they also start to focus on what they eat in total. The problem with a low-carb diet is that is usually (but not always) sustainable. Once an induvial returns to eating carbs, they suddenly have the urge to overindulge because they have been deprived for so long, and here comes the yo-yo effect that causes gaining everything back.

3. You can’t eat after certain hour (after 5pm, 6pm, 7pm)  or you won’t lose weight

Just to be complete with the theme of eating carbs in the evening, there is also the myth of eating in the evening in general. I will basically repeat what I’ve already said – your body doesn’t know what time it is. You really don’t have to be starving after 5 pm until the morning. Someone can tell you that eating at night will cause weight gain but I will tell you a secret – as long as you are not in the calorie surplus, you just won’t gain weight.

One of the most usual problems is night snacking where we inhale basically everything that comes our way and doubles our daily intake. But that is something else. If you come from work at night and you are starving, but don’t want to eat just because it is late, I want to tell you that it IS OKAY to eat.

Now I am not saying that you can’t have few hours before bed where you don’t eat. Everyone is different. I like to have few hours to digest before I go to sleep because it is easier for me to fall asleep and my sleep quality is then better. I don’t like to fall asleep with a full stomach because I don’t like the feeling of it. But there are people who are the complete opposite and can’t fall asleep if they don’t feel full. And that is completely okay as well. If you are in your calorie range for your goal (whether it is weight loss, maintenance, or weight gain), you don’t have to be scared of having a snack before bed if you are hungry.

4. You have to eat every 2-3 hours so that your metabolism won’t slow down

I heard that many times. Our body is a machine that is in need of fuel so that it could effectively process energy. And once it doesn’t have the food, it will slow down. Well, as I said earlier, weight loss doesn’t happen overnight and that is why it really doesn’t matter when we eat as long as we are in a calorie deficit. The frequency of eating will differ for every person because everyone is different.

For example- a person 1 will truly thrive on eating every 2 hours because they prefer smaller portions more times in a day and they feel great that way. While person 2 will prefer two or three bigger meals which would be a problem for person 1 because they would get so hungry between the meals that they would inhale their whole fridge for dinner and later ordered KFC. For person 2 it is better that way because they just don’t have the time for eating six times a day and constantly have snacks on their hands. A person 3 will combine those two ways and have three bigger meals and one snack. And so on and so forth.

It truly depends on what you prefer, what routine you follow, and what conditions are you in.

Of course, there is the topic of insulin resistance, the timing of meals before and after a workout, and individual needs where the results of different frequencies can slightly differ. The frequency and timing will be mainly important for athletes and very active people. This article is, however, for a person from the general population, who simply wants to move, be healthy, and look good.

5. Pastry/ sugar/ white rice/ pizza/ chocolate …make you gain weight

There are no foods that make you gain weight. Yes, there are foods that are more nutritious and less caloric and foods that are not as nutritious and calorically dense (for example a pizza…that, however, doesn’t mean that pizza is bad, I love pizza). I think that the root of this misconception comes from the fact, that it is really easy to consume those foods in such quantities that they will cause our daily intake to be too high and therefore we will gain weight over time and also we don’t combine them well.

I could eat six croissants with Nutella and not feel full. But if you eat a croissant with healthy fats and have a bit of protein with it or just have one croissant here and there just for the taste of it, there is really no reason to exclude it from our diets.

That goes for everything. We can have pizza, chocolate, coffee with sugar, and even doughnuts or cakes, as long as we eat everything in moderation. As long as you are not in a calorie surplus, you won’t gain fat. It is obvious that pizza has more calories than for example a salad containing only vegetables, and if we eat it every day, we aren’t exactly setting ourselves for success, are we? Also, those foods won’t make us feel full as for example a meal that has a great source of protein, healthy fats, and carbs.

But as I said in my previous article, one pizza doesn’t ruin anything, just as well one salad doesn’t fix everything. It is, however, important to know that we don’t have to give up anything we like even if we want to lose weight or gain muscle, we just need to keep an eye on the portion and also how often we eat it.