It’s time to get a few things straight! Leading nutritionist, Rana Arafa dispels a lot of misconceptions about dieting and nutrition for Cairo West Magazine.
Myth 1: To lose weight, don’t mix carbohydrates and protein.
Fact: A meal with carbohydrates alone results in you being hungry sooner, with blood glucose levels jumping up very quickly and dipping very low afterwards. This leaves a person hungry and weak, if some amount of protein is added one stays full longer and blood glucose levels stay more consistent.
Myth 2: Vitamins give us energy
Fact: Vitamins help extract energy from carbohydrates and fats but you need the carbohydrates and fats in the first place.
Myth 3: Ignoring hunger and skipping meals will result in weight loss.
Fact: Ignoring your hunger signals will only lead to uncontrolled eating or bingeing later on. Eat at least every 3-4 hours, including breakfast, lunch and supper and snacks in between. Your body will tend to store what you eat, so make sure you don’t starve it. Eating frequently makes it easier to burn more. Also skipping breakfast leads to over-eating at night.
People who skip breakfast tend to be heavier than people who eat a healthy breakfast.
Myth 4: Cutting carbohydrates will lead to weight loss.
Fact: Restricting carbohydrates causes the body’s natural defense mechanism to kick in, leading to sweets cravings as a quick source of fuel for the body, so eat more of the complex carbohydrates like whole grain rye bread.
Myth 5: Avoid Seafood to Lower Cholesterol
Fact: The dietary cholesterol found in seafood, meat or eggs has little effect on blood cholesterol in most people. Saturated fats and trans fatty acids found in margarine and ghee and dark meat are the most important factors that raise blood cholesterol, which can eventually cause heart disease.
Myth 6: Dark breads are more nutritious than white breads.
Fact: Whole grain breads are the healthy type of bread. We need to read nutrition tables or labels to know if it’s high in fiber or not. A dark color can be only a color or caramel added to the bread and has nothing to do with the amount of fiber it has, choose bread with ingredient listings of 100 percent whole wheat or other whole grain (such as barley or oats). “Enriched wheat flour” is the long way to say white flour.
Myth 7: Muscle can turn to fat when you stop exercising
Fact: When you stop training your muscles don’t turn into fat, muscle and fat tissues are entirely different, and therefore they can never transform from one to the other, when you stop exercising your muscle mass declines. How you gain fat tissue is when you eat more calories than you burn off, you don’t burn them as you used to when training or exercising. When your exercise routine is back, your muscles have a memory and will again start to add lean tissue. You might start burning excess body fat, but your fat will not actually turn into muscle.
Myth 8: Eating fruits at night is safe and contains no calories.
Fact: Fruits and vegetables are food, so they do contain calories and are broken down into sugars. Some are higher than others. Banana calories are higher than an orange, but still both are broken down into sugars, so you will end up getting hungry after a maximum of one hour. Proteins like skimmed yoghurt would be a better option at dinner, as it will get broken down slower and yet contains fewer calories.
Rana Arafa, VIBE gym certified pediatric obesity nutritionist, sports athlete nutritionist and holistic nutrition therapist.