Whether at the grocery store, browsing the internet or meal prepping for the family; each day we are faced with food and nutrition information overload. What you eat however, and even when you eat it, has a significant impact not just on your weight but also on your overall health and even your alertness and levels of performance at work.
So how do you separate nutrition myths from facts?
You would think, as time goes on, there would be fewer nutrition myths to tackle. Unfortunately, the internet and other sources are full of misinformation, and it can be very difficult to tell what is evidenced-based without reading the actual study.
It’s important to know the facts about what we are eating so we can develop healthy habits.
Eating late at night will make you fat. Myth or Fact?
The fact is: Our metabolism is constantly running 24 hours a day, 365 days a year! What you eat and how much is far more important than when you eat it. No matter what time you eat, calories are calories! There is no magic hour that our body stores calories as fat or use as fuel.
If you are constantly overindulging after dinner, it’s the overindulging that’s derailing any weight loss efforts, not the clock. However, for some people the “no calories after 8pm rule” can be an effective weight loss tool because it means they’ll take in fewer calories over the course of the day. But if dinner is running late or you are feeling hungry, then eat! You need to feed and fuel your body.
If you’re listening to your body and balancing calories (not just scarfing down junk food) over the day, there is no damage done. Most importantly, if you workout in the evening, eating is not optional! You must refuel those hard worked muscles. Depending on the activity type and duration, you’ll need water, electrolytes, carbohydrates and protein.
Coffee is unhealthy and should be avoided. Myth or Fact?
The fact is: Coffee is packed full of antioxidants and promotes many health benefits.
Coffee contains several important nutrients, including riboflavin, pantothenic acid, potassium and magnesium. Many studies show coffee has powerful health benefits because it’s packed full of antioxidants.
In addition, research has shown that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of depression, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Coffee is also one the biggest sources of antioxidants in the western diet, out ranking fruits and veggies combined!
White potatoes aren’t as nutritious as sweet potatoes. Myth or Fact?
The fact is: Both potatoes are nutrient dense and offer different benefits. Many people think since potatoes are white they offer little nutritional value; however, both sweet and white potatoes offer tons of vitamins and minerals (especially if you eat the skin).
Sweet potatoes are getting so much attention lately as a superfood. They are higher in vitamin A because of their bright orange color, however white potatoes contain more potassium and magnesium. It’s a close call for both potatoes when it comes to fiber, protein and vitamin C. There is no need to fight over which potatoes to have, so make sure you switch it up all week long!
Preparation is the key for both types of potato. Most often potatoes are deep-fried and consumed as french fries, but you can change the cooking method to steamed, boiled or baked to keep both potatoes healthy!
Sugar is bad but high fructose corn syrup is way worse. Myth or Fact?
The fact is: Sugar has many disguises and too much added sugar from any source is not good for the body! Sugar is most well known as high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) but also goes by many other names, such as, maltodextrin, brown rice syrup, dextrose and sucrose. High fructose corn syrup is a man-made sweetener that’s in many processed products, from cereals to ketchup to sweetened beverages.
In a 2014 study comparing the effects of sugar and HFCS, there was no evidence to show HFCS is less healthy than other types of added sweeteners. In other words, your body can’t tell one from the other, so it’s a good idea to limit any form of added sugar in your diet.
Read labels! The American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugar to about 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 for men. For reference, 1 teaspoon is about 4 grams of sugar.