Nutritional Ideas That Were Proven Wrong Over the Last Decade
Before I get into the meat of the post (pun intended), I thought it would be worth mentioning that there is debate on when the current decade actually begins and ends.
Most Americans (64%) believe the next decade will begin on Jan. 1, 2020, and end on Dec. 31, 2029. But nearly 20% said they weren't sure – and slightly fewer people said the next decade won't start until Jan. 1, 2021.
If you want to be technical, there was no Year Zero when the current era began more than 2,000 years ago, so all decades, centuries and millenia begin with Year 1. With that logic, the next decade won't start until Jan. 1, 2021.
But most people use the term "decades" to discuss culture and chunks of history. So that’s why it should run from 0 to 9. When you think back to the “80’s”, it’s 1980 through 1989. Not to mention, the definition of a decade is just any 10-year span. Where it begins really doesn’t matter.
With all that in mind, I want to look back at some ideas regarding food and diet that were thought to be correct a decade ago (back in 2010) that are now known to be false.
Idea #1: Eating Fat Makes You Fat
The low-fat diet craze had it's heyday in the late 1990s, but the myth that fat is bad for you or leads to weight gain persisted well into the 2000s and beyond.
Thankfully, over the last few years, science and common sense have proved this to be untrue. People have even realized that “low-fat” versions of popular products are actually worse for your health, increasing the risk of heart disease and other ailments previously linked to high-fat foods.
Now the trend has swung in the opposite direction, with high-fat diets like keto more popular than ever and carbohydrates, particularly sugar, now vilified as causes of obesity and illness.
Plenty of high-fat foods are perfectly healthy, but the type of fat matters. While good fats can actually lower cholesterol levels, boost brain function and support satiety, filling up on unhealthy fats can contribute to chronic disease and weight gain.
A good rule of thumb is to steer clear of highly-processed fats that are pumped full of additives and unhealthy ingredients. Refined vegetable oils, processed meats and snack foods like chips, crackers and baked goods are generally high in disease-causing, artery-clogging trans fats that should be avoided at all costs.
Idea #2: You Should Eat Multiple Small Meals Throughout the Day (Grazing)
I remember hearing that the best way to lose weight was to keep your metabolism “going” all day by eating small, frequent meals all day long.
If you ever tried it, you know that not only does it not work, it’s very hard to do. You have a do lots of planning, constantly watch the clock and have snacks with you at all times. Not to mention that this type of eating leads to higher consumption of processed and snack foods, like chips and candy bars. Even granola bars and yogurt can pack a lot of sugar with few nutritional benefits.
The new rage has gone in the other direction. Limit your eating to just a few hours a day. Depending on the type of Intermittent fasting you do, this may mean eating just 8 hours to 16 hours a day, or it could mean eating normally five days of the week but abstaining from food entirely the other two days.
There's evidence that a bit of fasting every once in a while may be good for the gut, prevent inflammation, and even help overweight people lose belly fat. With that being said, intermittent fasting isn't for everyone, and some people may be vulnerable to taking it too far. You can learn more about fasting here.
Idea #3: Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day
This myth goes back way beyond the start of the last decade, but I feel like it wasn’t debunked until recently.
While there is evidence showing that eating early in the day is more beneficial for weight loss than eating that same amount late at night, it may not be the best strategy for everyone.
If you are on an intermittent fasting plan which promotes fasting for 16 hours a day and eating during the remaining 8, you will likely skip breakfast in favor of eating dinner.
I’ve always been a big believer in listening to your body. Several years ago I decided to only eat when I was hungry, regardless of what time it was or what everyone else around me was doing. I tried this for a few weeks and found out that I’m not really hungry in the mornings, even after a workout. So at that point, I really stopped eating breakfast. I wait until I feel hungry and then make sure that I’m eating real food and just eat until I feel full. I have plenty of energy and have seen no drop off in my workouts or strength.
Learning when your individual body is hungry and full is hugely important to your health.
Idea #4: A Calorie is a Calorie
I remember infomercials on TV that told people to simply live in a caloric deficit to lose weight. Eat fewer calories than you burn in a day and all is good. Eat too many and you'll gain weight.
This calorie-in / calorie-out logic is what’s behind almost all of the popular diet programs that are marketed to people. It doesn’t matter if you are counting calories, points or net carbs. Just because you are keeping portions under control, does not mean you are healthy.
Common sense tells you that 80 calories in the form of a piece of Weight Watchers chocolate cake that is full of artificial sweeteners and vegetable oils is not as beneficial for your overall health as 80 calories in leafy greens or fresh produce. The vitamins, minerals, fiber, and micronutrients found in real food have a beneficial effect on the good bacteria in our gut, which can lead to a lower risk of diseases, weight loss, and other health benefits.
Idea #5: Your BMI is a Good Indicator of Health
Body mass index, or BMI, a measure of weight relative to height, was originally intended for statistical, not individual, purposes, but became the standard method used to define who's a "healthy" weight versus who's "overweight" or "obese."
I remember it being part of the process for applying for life insurance back in the late 2000’s. I was carrying a lot of muscle back then and my BMI put me in the “overweight” range. This meant that I was not considered healthy by their standards and would have to pay a higher premium. Simply looking at someone’s weight to height ratio obviously does not tell the whole story.
The good news is that insurance companies no longer use BMI as a measure of health. Doctors and health professionals are now looking toward other ways of determining baseline markers of health. One such alternative is waist circumference, since many of the negative health effects of obesity are linked to high levels of abdominal fat. Several studies have documented a link between high amounts of abdominal fat and an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, for example.
Maybe health shouldn't be based on weight, body fat, or body shape at all, and really on behaviors like physical activity, mental health care, and sleep. With wearable technologies that have come along in the last decade, such as smart watches and rings, tracking these markers is becoming easier.
Idea #6: Artificial Sweeteners are Better For You Than Sugar
Big companies with a lot of marketing money did a good job of convincing us that diet soda, candy, and other items that taste sweet, but contain no sugar and are calorie free were a way to “have your cake and eat it too”!
But, unfortunately, research suggests they may not be any better for you than regular sugar in terms of causing liver and kidney problems, high blood pressure, and weight gain.
These fake sweeteners cause symptoms that range from headaches and migraines to weight gain and even more serious conditions like cardiovascular disease.
What many people don’t realize is that artificial sweeteners also can cause a dangerous addiction — an addiction to overly sweet foods. They retrain the taste buds to need more and more, sweeter and sweeter foods. This leads to even greater incidences of obesity, type 2 diabetes, kidney damage and so much more.
When I host my Holistic Hundred and No Sugar November challenges, people are often surprised at how often dangerous artificial sweeteners are included in prepared foods, medications and beverages. Please carefully read the labels of the foods you purchase to ensure you don’t consume these dangerous chemicals.
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Wishing you optimal health and peak performance,
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