I’ve decided to start a new series of posts I am calling The Perjury Poacher in an attempt to clear up common misconceptions and beliefs when it comes to health, fitness and nutrition.
We live in a social-media-dominated era, where anyone and everyone can write content on any subject they have a strong opinion on. Unfortunately, people with extreme opinions and narrow minds have become ridiculously powerful in influencing us, the media muggles of this world, and our own viewpoints.
During my work as a PT, I get asked lots of questions by my clients with regards to the legitimacy of content they are reading on their Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds; therefore, I thought I would compile the Best Bits into a series of posts that will hopefully help you sort the Wellness Wheat from the Chaff….
Nutrition: Why Should I Care?
Coming off the back of the Christmas, I am sure many of you out there have made resolutions to “eat healthier” or “quit with the junk” after smashing a few too many mince pies during the festivities…
It is so important to keep a close eye on your nutritional intake, whether that’d be through tracking macros, a written food diary, or practicing portion control using the Hand Scale Method (see right) . This is because, regardless of the good work you do in the gym, most health-and-fitness-related goals are heavily influenced by diet. If you want to build muscle, lose weight, or train for a long-distance run, what you eat plays a pivotal role in your ultimate success.
In light of this, I thought I would attempt to debunk the Top 6 Questions people ask me in terms of their diet…
Myth #1 – All Vegans/Vegetarians are Healthy
One of the biggest misconceptions going is that turning vegetarian or vegan automatically fastracks your physical health to the top of the pile…
There is no denying the insane benefits of a whole-food, plant-based diet on both mental and physical health. Having a diet centred around wholegrains, fruits, vegetables, and other vegan-friendly foods like nuts is much healthier when compared to the standard Western diet.
However, many people who make the switch to a plant-based diet end out eating the same processed crap they ate before, just without the meat. Ritz Crackers, Sour Patches, and Oreos are among the companies that promote vegan-friendly products as a marketing ploy to make their snacks appear healthy. Trust me, just because something has the wee green ‘V’ on the packet doesn’t make it a ‘health food’.
Myth #2 – Low-Fat = Lose Fat
The first thing people change when trying to shed a bit of timber is switching from full-fat products to low-fat alternatives; after all, they are healthier right?
Aye, those people you see writing stuff about how we need to cut out the fat in our diets do have a point; most people need to slash things that contain high amounts of trans-fats like pizza, fried foods, and cake.
However, when you are trying to create a calorie deficit for effective weight loss, including healthy fats is a great weapon to have in your dietary armoury…
Foods like Olive Oil, Avocados, Nuts and Nut Butters are all jam-packed with heart-healthy mono- and poly-unsaturated fats that will help maintain optimal heart health as well as keeping you satiated and satisfied after a meal.
Same goes for dairy products, like yoghurts; low-fat and fat-free versions, despite being lower in calories, tend to replace the healthy fats with refined sugars to compensate for the loss of flavour. You are better off opting for natural, full-fat versions (in my humble opinion)!
Myth #3 – Cut Carbs to Lose Weight
It is true that most Western diets are too high in carbohydrates; however, these are the refined, simple carbs that you would find in foods like muffins, cakes & pizza.
Cutting out carbs completely may be the worst decision you could make in your weight loss attempts. Having a diet rich in healthy complex carbs will help you fill you up for relatively few calories. Fruit and veg, wholegrains, and legumes are amongst the best foods for weight loss due to their high fibre content and low energy density.
What the headlines should read is that you should try to limit refined, processed carbs as opposed to cutting out an entire food group…
Myth #4 – Any Food after 6pm = Weight Gain
This is just a complete lie…
For starters, putting on weight is not determined by what time you eat food;
instead, changes in bodyweight is completely down to energy balance (i.e. calories in, calories out). As long as you are eating fewer calories than you are expending (calorie deficit
) you will continue to lose weight; if that means having a meal after 6pm, then so be it!
Secondly, some foods eaten later on in the day can promote the growth and repair of lean muscle tissue. Foods high in casein, such as cottage cheese or turkey breast, stimulate a slow, continuous release of protein to muscle fibres to help maximise recovery and lean muscle mass development.
The Final Word
Thanks to a few ill-informed social media ‘influencers’, too many myths about health, fitness and nutrition have been forced upon us over and over again, to the point at which we begin to believe the most ludicrous of theories…
This series of posts is designed to try and help you sort the fact from the fiction when it comes to reading content on Facebook and Twitter; hope this helps a touch, and there will be more to come in the future….