Nutrition Myth Busting #1

There is so much nutrition and health information floating around these days all over the place. Everyone seems to have a say on what is right and true to be successful at reaching your goals. But sometimes this information doesn’t line up with each other. What do you do? Who do you listen to? Have no fear, we are here to bust some of the top nutrition “facts” and “myths” that have you confused.

Myth or Fact? Protein powder supplements are the be-all, end-all essential to post-workout for recovering. Without protein powder post-workout, your sweat has gone to waste.

  • Answer: MYTH
  • Evidence: Protein supplements are a way to obtain dietary protein in conjunction with a proper diet. Mainly they offer the convenience of being a quick absorbing protein source to meet your daily needs. Protein powders and amino acid supplements are as effective as food sources of protein for gaining muscle and recovering.
  • Bottom Line: Athletes who undergo intense training daily or individuals who consistently are unable to meet their protein requirements from diet alone – such as vegetarians or vegans – may benefit from the convenience of protein powders as part of their diet.
    Examine. (2015). Protein Supplements. Retrieved 2 May 2016 from http://examine.com/supplements/Protein+Supplement/

Myth or Fact? Coconut water is equal or superior to a traditional sports beverage as a fluid & electrolyte replacement after an intense endurance cardio training session

  • Answer: MYTH
  • Evidence: Compared to conventional sports drinks, coconut water is lower in two of the main ingredients your spent system requires after a tough workout: sodium, the main electrolyte lost through sweat, and carbohydrates, which help restock the body’s spent energy stores. Coconut water is 11.4% carbohydrate by concentration compared to 6-8% in sports drinks. Generally, beverages containing greater than 10% CHO solution are not well tolerated by the body, because blood flow to the small intestine is reduced during exercise. This may lead to feelings of a bloated and upset stomach.
  • Bottom Line: All beverages are capable of promoting rehydration. After activity of 60 minutes or less, good, old-fashioned water is a fine way to hydrate; however, if you’re looking for electrolytes to rehydrate after a long run or a tough workout in hot weather, a traditional sports drink is still going to be the best bet for overall hydration and energy replenishment. If you’re looking to cut calories and maintain the intake of natural fluids, coconut water is a fine choice. Just be sure to reach for unsweetened varieties!

Kalman, D., et al. Comparison of coconut water and a carbohydrate-electrolyte sport drink on measures of hydration and physical performance in exercise-trained men. Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012 Jan 18;9(1):1.
Nisevich, P. MSc, RD (2014) http://www.runnersworld.com/fuel-school/is-coconut-water-better-for-runners-than-sports-drink

Myth or Fact? Vitamin supplements give you energy for physical activity

  • Answer: MYTH
  • Evidence: Vitamins and their counterparts, minerals, don’t work that way because they don’t provide energy in the form of calories. Instead, they serve as an assistor that helps the body to carry out the many reactions necessary for proper functioning. When vitamins or minerals are in short supply in the diet, the ability to function, including performing athletically, can be compromised. But if micronutrient needs are met, taking more vitamins and minerals won’t offer further benefit. In fact, taking too much could prove harmful. A one-a-day type of multivitamin/mineral supplement can be an effective measure for ensuring that you get adequate amounts of all necessary vitamins and minerals but nothing beats a well-balanced, adequate diet.
  • Bottom Line: Popping a vitamin supplement won’t make you run faster, jump higher, or lift any more weight — at least not in the short term, and downing a vitamin pill before a competition doesn’t lead to better performance. https://www.nestlenutrition-institute.org/resources/library/Secured/sportFocus/Documents/SportFocus20/Summer-addition-Top-10-Sports-Nutrition-Myths.pdf

Myth or Fact? Reducing or eliminating gluten from the diet can promote weight loss and improve health

  • Answer: MYTH
  • Evidence: A gluten-free diet is the only healthy way of eating for people with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, but it’s not necessary for anyone else. Unless you have Celiac disease (1% of the population), or you are allergic to one a gluten containing grain (5% of the population), you don’t need to avoid it. In fact, avoiding gluten may result in a less nutritious diet.
  • Bottom Line: There is no need to avoid gluten unless you have been diagnosed with Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or an allergy. Feeling better and weight loss is more likely related to eating better (not the avoidance of gluten itself), restrict other essential nutrients (e.g. fibre), be impractical for your lifestyle, and increase your grocery bill.

Marcason, W. (2011). Is there evidence to support the claim that a gluten-free diet should be used for weight loss? J of the Amer Diet Assoc, 111(11): 1785-1786.
Wild, D., Robins, G., Burley, V., Howdle, P. (2010). Evidence of high sugar intake, and low fibre and mineral intake, in the gluten-free diet. Aliment Pharm & Therapeut, 22(4): 573–581.

Myth or Fact? Eating after 7pm will lead to weight gain.

  • Answer: MYTH
  • Evidence: If the food one consumes in the evening is part of their overall energy requirements for the day, it will not lead to weight gain. However, late-night eating for reasons unrelated to hunger (e.g. emotional eating, mindless eating) may lead to consuming more calories than needed resulting in weight gain. But it’s not due to the time on the clock or even the type of food – a surplus of energy from any type of food, at any time of the day, will cause weight gain.
  • Bottom Line: Eating after a certain time at night does not lead to weight gain itself – it’s one’s energy balance through the entire day that matter most when it comes to weight management but be careful of after-dinner snacking as it may impact your waistline.

Gluck, M., Venti, C., Salbe, A., Krakoff, J. (2008). Nighttime eating: commonly observed and related to weight gain in an inpatient food intake study. Am Society of Clin Nutr, 88(4): 900-905.

Myth or Fact? Eating a low-carb diet intake is the key to weight loss.

  • Answer: MYTH
  • Evidence: Decreasing carbohydrates (carbs) might help you lose weight in the short term, but this is related to simply eating fewer calories. Drastically cutting carbs from whole grains, fruit, starchy vegetables, and legumes can cause nutrient deficiencies and result in feelings of fatigue and health issues such as constipation.
  • For example, a two-year study comparing different weight loss strategies, found that healthy diets that varied in the proportions of different  macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fats) worked equally well in the long run, and that there was no advantage for one diet over another
  • Bottom Line: The real issue is not losing weight—people can cut back on calories and lose weight on almost any diet—but keeping weight off over the long run. Thus it is more important to find a way of eating that you can stay with for the rest of your life. For this reason, any eating plan you choose should be satisfying and allow variety, and should also be nutritionally sound.

Sacks FM, Bray GA, Carey VJ, et al. Comparison of weight-loss diets with different compositions of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. N Engl J Med. 2009;360:859-73.
Willet, W (2015). http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/weight-control/

Posted in Alysha Coughler, Dietitian, Main Blog

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