The fitness industry has boomed in recent years, and people are increasingly conscious of their food choices. While this is a great shift in attitude, there still exists some common myths about what ‘healthy’ really means. We’re here to clear up the crap and debunk some common diet myths.
‘A gluten-free diet is healthy’
Gluten is a protein found in grains and those who suffer from gluten-sensitivity or coeliac disease struggle to digest it therefore need to eliminate it.
However many people cut gluten out of their diets despite not being adversely affected by it (because if you’re not gluten-free right now, then who even are you?!). By doing this, you’re depriving your body of key vitamins and fibres in brown bread, pasta and grains.
There’s a common misconception around gluten-free products (a market now worth over £200 million) as many believe they’re ‘healthier’. Just because a muffin has been removed of the ‘gluten enemy’ doesn’t mean it’s healthier than its glutinous counterpart. Gluten-free junk food is still junk food, right? Look at the list of ingredients and you’ll probably find you can’t pronounce half the ingredients. The lack of gluten is made up for by the addition of these additives to give flavour. Therefore sticking a label on your diet doesn’t mean it’s healthy. So just eat the goddamned regular muffin!
‘Fats will make me fat’
The age old ‘you are what you eat’ approach has led many to believe eating fat leads to fat gain. But fats are essential to our diets, providing us with energy and protecting our internal organs. There are however different kinds of fats, thus contributing to confusion.
We should aim to eat a third of each of the following; saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Saturated fats include butter, cheese and cream, which shouldn’t be eliminated from our diets but moderation is key. Almonds, olive oil and avocados are sources of monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are found in salmon, peanuts and chia seeds. Ensuring the correct balance provides our bodies with the essential nutrients.
Ironically, ‘low fat’ or ‘fat-free’ products often contain more sugars to make them palatable and it’s this that can contribute to weight gain.
‘Snacking is bad’
Snacking is great. Choosing what to snack on however can make the difference. High protein snacks help keep your energy levels consistent throughout the day and prevent sugar cravings. Nuts, houmous, protein shakes, eggs and berries are great snacks that sustain your energy levels. As long as you maintain your total energy intake, there’s no reason not to snack. Plus, if you’re bulking and on a higher calorie intake, snacking will help spread the load rather than packing in everything at meal times.
‘Training fasted will burn more fat’
There have been countless studies on this topic, annoyingly with mixed outcomes. Some have shown fasted training boosts performance and optimizes fat burn. On the flip side, others have shown no change in fat loss between those who’ve fasted and those who’ve fuelled prior to a workout.
Now, we’re no scientists, but we believe this one comes down to personal choice. If you find you’re able to push yourself harder in a fasted state, exercising first thing and refuelling with breakfast afterwards, then go for it! Equally, if you need a boost before you tackle that treadmill, then don’t be a hero, pushing through when you’re running empty. Listen to your body - it will tell you what it needs.
It goes to show that you shouldn’t take everything at face value. There are many more myths out there and hopefully you’ll now question what you hear or read before following the crowd.