Efforts to learn as much about healthy eating as possible haven’t done much to whittle Americans’ waistlines. Part of the problem is the overwhelming amount of studies we hear about on the news. Multiple groups conducting research on the same foods sometimes yield opposite results. To make matters worse, plenty of information without any scientific backing has found its way into the conversation.
The confusion ends here because we’ve looked into common nutrition beliefs that turned out to be a bunch of bologna. Armed with this information, healthier eating is about to become a lot easier.
1. Eating at night makes you gain weight
What and how much you eat is far more important than when. Active explained calories are processed the same no matter what the clock says. Besides, folks who work late or hit the gym in the evening need to eat at night. Without properly fueling yourself after exercise or a hard day’s work, you’ll feel flat the next day.
If you tend to eat later, just make sure to keep an eye on what you’re consuming. Some people crave baked goods or greasy takeout late at night, which can be diet disasters.
2. Foods with 0 grams of trans fats are trans fat-free
Confusing, but true. Eat This, Not That! explained the FDA’s rules allow companies to say a food contains 0 grams of trans fats on the nutrition label if the product contains ½ gram or less. Digging into a few portions of foods that have these small amounts can easily put you past the American Heart Association’s suggested maximum of 2 grams per 2,000 calories consumed.
You should be cautious of processed foods. The words “partially hydrogenated” should always send up a red flag. This means the food contains fats that have been processed in a way that can contribute to heart disease and diabetes.
3. Brown eggs are healthier than white ones
The Huffington Post explained the color of the egg is only a reflection of the hen breed and has nothing to do with the nutritional value of the food. The good news here is going for paler shells will help you save a few bucks on your grocery bill. The same article said brown eggs are typically more expensive because dark-feathered chickens are larger, so they’re more expensive to raise. That added cost shows up in the final price of the eggs. The best way to find out how your eggs were raised and treated is to read the package.
4. Juices cleanse your body
Everyone wants to look and feel their best, so certain people resort to various cleanses to help clear out their system and get rid of any nasty toxins. Colonics used to be popular for this reason, but juicing now reigns supreme. Thanks to evolution, our bodies are actually completely equipped to self-clean. Jennifer McDaniel, R.D.N. and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Men’s Health, “… you have a built-in detox organ, the liver, and it’s very good at what it does.” Besides, all the juice in the world isn’t going to undo a crappy diet. Stay away from processed junk and you’ll be in good shape.
5. Weight loss is as simple as cutting calories
Most of us think about weight loss as a balance between the calories we eat versus the calories we expend. The traditional formula says burning more than you consume will lead to weight loss, while the opposite will lead to weight gain. But nutrition is incredibly complex.
Every person is slightly different, and one experiment from 1999 illustrated just how big of a difference it can make. For this research, 16 individuals were fed an excess of 1,000 calories per day for eight weeks. Eating this amount of additional calories would total 56,000. Since the common belief an additional 3,500 calories leads to a pound of weight gain, every subject should have gained 16 pounds. It didn’t shake out that way at all. Subjects’ weight gain ranged from as little as about 3 pounds to as much as 15.9 pounds.
6. High-fructose corn syrup is worse than sugar
Before you get excited about this myth, remember sugar’s no health food. Eating Well explained the sweet syrup was created as a stand-in for sugar, so the composition is almost exactly the same. Before you pick a product with a label stating its corn syrup-free status, take a look at the nutritional values and the ingredients. Too much of any type of sweetener is bad for you health, so try to limit yourself to no more than 36 grams of added sugar per day.
7. Frozen or canned fruits and vegetables aren’t healthy
Fruits and vegetables are most nutritious the instant they are picked, leading many to believe fresh is always best. Frozen and canned veggies are a smarter choice than you might think thanks to a short trip from harvest to processing. SparkPeople explained this quick acting helps preserve a lot of nutrients, though canning doesn’t do quite as good a job as freezing. Still, both choices can be great options.
8. White vegetables don’t have any nutritional value
Many health professionals tell people to eat a rainbow of colors and some even recommend staying away from white foods. These suggestions are an easy way to get a variety of nutrients, but not all pale foods are bad. It’s probably meant as a way to limit the amount of sugar, white bread, and other processed carbohydrates we include in our diets. Vegetables are another story. Pale eats like cauliflower and turnips are full of nutrients. And don’t forget potatoes. It’s usually preparations involving frying or topping with fatty sauces that lead to problems because potatoes themselves are actually quite healthy. One medium spud contains 129 calories, 2.3 grams of fiber, and a hefty dose of vitamin C.