Q&A: food myths uncovered
Wouldn’t it be great if we were in good shape and great health all the time? There are countless websites that share the dos and don’ts on the subject of food online, but what advice should we follow when it comes to staying fit, and what advice should we avoid? There are probably as many food myths out there as there are different types of food, and some of them we encounter again and again.
Myth 1 – fat is unhealthy
Fat has a bad reputation that probably comes from the fact that it has a relatively high energy density of 9 kcal per gram. But our body can only absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K with the help of fat which is why it should make up 30% of our calorie intake.
However, the type of fat we consume is important. Fats should be obtained mainly from unsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (essential fatty acids that the body cannot produce itself).
Therefore, fat should be part of our diet, because our body needs it. Fat supplies and stores energy, carries flavours and aromas, protects our organs and even warms us up. Furthermore, fat supports our cell structure and our nervous system.
Good, healthy sources of fat are olive oil, avocados, nuts, linseed oil, chia seeds, salmon and eggs.
Myth 2 – Natural sugar is not sugar
Sugar is an integral part of our diet. According to the portal Statista, the per capita consumption of sugar in Germany in 2017/18 was around 34.8 kilograms – which corresponds to a daily amount of around 95 grams.
However, the majority of this amount does not come from sweets, as might be expected, but from fruit juices and processed products.
Every sugar substitute has its advantages and disadvantages. In order to take advantage of the positive effects of the vitamins, minerals, trace elements and secondary plant compounds that some sugar substitutes contain, one would have to consume an unhealthy amount. The bottom line is that consumption would bring more disadvantages than advantages.
In order to avoid the sugar trap, it’s worth trying to cut out industrial sugar altogether. Sugar alternatives such as sweetener, for example, also “trigger” the desire for sweets.
If you want to know how to effectively stop sugar cravings, here are 7 valuable tips.
Myth 3 – Eating after training is better than eating before
It’s important you eat the right foods both before and after exercise. If the timing and composition of your meal is right, you will support the training effect and get the best out of your workout! However, the best time to eat is not something that can be generalised because it depends on your training goals.
If you want to get in shape, it’s recommended to eat a small protein-rich snack before training. In order to give your body time to digest the food, you should eat something about an hour before your workout. Large meals should be eaten 2-3 hours before.
If you want to build muscle, you should eat a meal of carbohydrates and protein after your workout. This will help your body to regenerate after exercise and replenish its energy reserves.
The motto is: Don’t start on an empty stomach and listen to your gut!
Myth 4 – Cheat days are unhealthy
Burgers, pizza and pie: On a cheat day, anything goes! But is it really sensible to treat yourself to unhealthy food on Cheat Day? In my opinion: no!
I often observe that in most cases, people eat excessively on Cheat Day. If you eat healthy food 80% of the week, and unhealthy food 20% of the week, your insulin levels will remain high and it will take a while before all that excess energy is absorbed and used up again.
Although some studies prove that cheat days actually help you lose weight instead of boycotting it, I am convinced that cheating does not help you build a healthy relationship with food. All week long you look forward to that one day when you can eat everything and then you scourge yourself for 6 days with prohibitions and commandments!
In my opinion, this makes a balanced diet and sufficient exercise seem more of a punishment than a healthy lifestyle choice!
Myth 5 – Superfoods are exotic and expensive
Most people have heard of Superfoods – at least in the media – because the term has become a real buzzword. However, the trend to buy expensive and exclusive foods in dried form or as powder from South America, Africa or India is now on the retreat again.
What many may not know is that Superfoods do not always have to be expensive and exotic. If you look at your region in Germany, you’ll find locally grown barley grass, linseed, berries and vegetables often have a similarly high nutrient density as chia seeds, matcha powder or acai. The advantage: they only cost a fraction!
Superfoods are well-suited as a food supplement to increase micronutrient requirements (e.g. during phases of illness, during high physical or mental stress, during pregnancy or breastfeeding), or whenever we are unable to supply ourselves with sufficient healthy food and vital substances of our own accord.
The key to a healthy diet, however, is not superfood, but balance! Those who use regional products in their everyday life do not need Superfood. Just eat a varied diet and as many unprocessed foods as possible, such as vegetables, fruit, legumes or whole grains.
With Q&A we get to the bottom of controversial topics every two weeks! After that it’s your turn! If you would like to know more from our nutrition expert @francescamyer, then you have the unique opportunity to ask any nutrition-based questions that are on your mind.