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Four Mainstream Myths about Nutrition

Jul 22, 2014


Karin Adoni, Registered Dietitian at Reebok Sports Club/NY

Myth 1: Egg yolks should be avoided because they’re high in cholesterol, which drives heart disease.

 

Dietary cholesterol found in eggs has little to do with the amount of cholesterol in your body. The confusion can be boiled down to semantics – the word "cholesterol" is used to describe two different things. Dietary cholesterol, the fat-like molecules in animal-based foods like eggs, has little effect on the amount of cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream.

Your body makes its own cholesterol so it doesn’t need much of the cholesterol you eat. Instead, your body’s cholesterol-making machine is fueled by certain saturated and trans fats. Eggs contain relatively small amounts of saturated fat. One large egg contains about 1.5 grams of saturated fat – a fraction of the amount in the tablespoon of butter many chefs cook that egg in.

Eggs are among the most nutritious foods on the planet, and almost all the nutrients are found in the yolks. Telling people to throw the yolks away may just be the most ridiculous advice in the history of nutrition.

Conclusion: Despite eggs being high in cholesterol, they do not raise blood cholesterol or increase the risk of heart disease for the majority of people.

 

Myth 2: All calories are created equal – it doesn’t matter what food they come from.

This is entirely false. All foods go through different metabolic pathways, which have direct effects on fat burning, hormones and brain centers that regulate appetite.

A high-protein diet, for example, can increase the metabolic rate by 80 to 100 calories per day and significantly reduce appetite. In one study, people automatically ate 441 fewer calories per day with this diet. They also lost 11 pounds in 12 weeks, just by adding protein to their diet.

Conclusion: A calorie is not a calorie. You should aim to get your calories from sources with nutritional value that will satisfy your hunger.

Myth 3: Eating fat makes you fat.

Fat is the stuff under our skin that makes us look soft and puffy. So, it seems logical that eating fat would give us even more of it. Diets high in fat and carbs can make you fat, but it’s not because of the fat alone. In fact, diets high in fat (but low in carbs) consistently lead to more weight loss than low-fat diets – even when the low-fat groups restrict calories.

Conclusion: The fattening effects of dietary fat depend entirely on the context. A diet that’s high in fat but low in carbs leads to more weight loss than a low-fat diet.

 

Myth 4: A high-protein diet increases strain on the kidneys and raises your risk of kidney disease.

Although it’s true that people with established kidney disease should cut back on protein, this is absolutely not true of otherwise healthy people. Numerous studies, including those with  athletes who eat large amounts of protein, show that a high-protein intake is perfectly safe. In fact, a higher protein intake lowers blood pressure and helps fight type 2 diabetes – the two main risk factors of kidney failure. Protein also reduces appetite and supports weight loss.

Conclusion: Eating a lot of protein has no adverse effects on kidney function in otherwise healthy people and improves numerous risk factors.