For a healthy and fit body maintaining a good diet is extremely vital. And to garner
information about diet and nutrition most people turn up to the internet. Unfortunately,
the internet is stuffed with baseless and false information regarding this subject. At
Vegan Nutrition we not only aim to provide you quality sports nutrition products but also
quality information. In this article, we will be scientifically debunking the top 11 diet
myths in the fitness industry.
#1 Eating Fats Makes You Fat
“Stop consuming fatty foods” is most likely the first household advice anyone gets, who
is aiming to lose weight. Although, it is a fact that storing dietary fat as adipose tissues
are easiest for the body between the four macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, fats &
alcohol). But the fat gain is essentially a function of total caloric intake throughout the
day. Studies testing the effect of different macronutrient composition where fat intake
varies from 20-83% confirms that dietary fats do not directly make you fat. It is overall
caloric intake that matters.
#2 Carbs Make You Fat
Low-Carb diets are in trend from a while. The idea is that carbohydrates cause an
insulin spike which is supposedly bad (According to Brainless Gurus) and causes fat
gain. This process of converting carbohydrates into stored body fat is called ‘Denovo-
Lipogenesis’ and studies have noted- it is a pretty inefficient process, only
carbohydrates consumed in excess (beyond your body’s requirement) are stored as
body fat. If you train at high intensity and move a lot throughout the day, you can enjoy
more carbs. If you are sitting for the most part of the day, reduce your carb intake
accordingly. Hence, carbohydrates do not make you fat. Only people with an inherent
issue with metabolizing carbohydrates should be cautious of carbohydrates (eg-
#3 Egg Yolks Are Bad For You
Eggs are an excellent source of highly bioavailable protein. But we all have seen at
least one ‘Bro’ separating the yolks from boiled eggs. Egg yolks gained a bad reputation
for being high in dietary cholesterol (note dietary). And given that excess cholesterol
causes heart diseases, yolks got demonized. In a study done by The American Journal
of Clinical Nutrition, it was found that there is no connection between whole eggs and an
increased risk of heart attack or stroke.
In fact, eating eggs may help prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of heart diseases.
Apart reason could be: when your body is already ingesting cholesterol from foods, it
suppresses its own production of cholesterol (excess of which is actually bad). Also,
yolks contain Vitamin A, D, E, K and Omega 3s. And a recent study noted that
consumption of whole eggs promotes greater stimulation of post-exercise muscle
protein synthesis than consumption of egg whites in young men. Therefore, egg yolks
are not just good for health but also good for gains.
#4 Some diets are superior to others such as Keto, IF, Paleo
Every now and then a new diet emerges in the world of fitness proclaiming itself to be
revolutionary. However, independent and unbiased studies always confirm that the main
pathway for fat loss in any diet is simply being in a hypocaloric state (see our detailed
section on different diets). So, it is the ‘caloric deficit’ which is going to help you lose fat
and there are no best diets. But whichever diet you can adhere to (in a caloric deficit), it
is the best for you.
#5 A calorie is a calorie
Although “Calories in vs. Calories out” is the most important factor for fat loss. The
IIFYM ideology (if it fits your macros) stretches it too far. Yes! Calories do count. But not
all calories are the same. For example, the thermic effect of food (TEF) is the highest for
protein. This means a lot of calories coming from lean protein foods (e.g. – chicken
breast, fish etc.) will be lost during the digestion process. Therefore, you can get away
by consuming an excess of protein without gaining excess body fat.
Another consideration is the overall nutrient composition of the food. For example, a
chocolate bar and 2 slices of multigrain bread have nearly the same caloric content. But
multigrain bread has a greater amount of fiber, vitamins and minerals which are key
components for better health.
#6 Eating Too Much Protein Will Damage Kidneys
Kidneys are vital organs for filtration of waste compounds from the bloodstream and
excreting it through urine. Many believe that high protein intake puts excess stress on
kidneys for clearing the metabolites of protein, which can damage it. Although a high
protein diet does put extra load on the kidneys, it is insignificant compared to the
immense workload which is already being done by them. In an adult, the kidneys may
filter around 48 gallons (180 litres) of blood every single day.
High protein intake can only be harmful to people with pre-existing kidney diseases, but
the same doesn’t apply to people with healthy kidneys. So far there has been no study
which shows an association between protein intake and kidney pathology. On the
contrary, studies with very high protein intake ( up to 4g / Kg Body Weight) observed no
parameters of kidney damage.
#7 Creatine Damages Kidneys
Creatine is a natural amino acid present in muscles. Supplemental Creatine increases
the efficiency of ATP cycle in muscle cells, enhancing your strength and work capacity.
Creatinine, on the other hand, is produced by the breakdown of creatine or
phosphocreatine by your muscles. Under normal conditions, your body produces
creatinine at a constant rate. Creatinine is filtered out of your blood by your kidneys and
removed in the urine.
Creatinine itself is non-toxic but an elevated creatinine level indicates your kidneys are
not filtering waste, some of which may be toxic. If you are currently consuming creatine,
your blood test might show higher than normal levels of creatinine but it is not a true
marker of poor kidney function (some other test will be required to draw a conclusion).
Creatine is the most thoroughly studied sports supplement and studies have found no
link between creatine monohydrate and kidney damage.
#8 Sugar is addictive
“Sugar is more addictive than Cocaine” this is a popular statement given by many
pseudo fitness experts. This idea originated when tests revealed that brain pattern
activity is similar after cocaine or sugar consumption. However, it is actually due to the
brain’s dopamine release in response to sugar consumption, as your body feels good
after consuming something sweet or savory.
The brain shows similar activity patterns in response to many other things such as sex,
adventure activities etc. Other than brain pattern activity there has been no other
similarity observed between sugar and cocaine intake. It is true that sugar is highly
caloric dense, and reducing sugar intake is a good strategy for weight maintenance but
sugar is not at all addictive like cocaine.
#9 Humans are Evolved To Eat Meat
“Humans are primitively Carnivores” This ideology is often preached by Keto and Paleo
diet advocates. But research shows otherwise, as carnivores (tigers, lions etc) do not
consume plants they have their own ability to synthesize Vitamin C (an essential vitamin
for survival). If humans were evolved to eat only meat, they would also have this ability
to synthesize Vitamin C.
Also, archaeologists have found evidence of grains (barley) in the dental plaques of
human fossils as old as 30,000 years. Humans that dwelled near the poles had to rely
primarily on animal meat but humans closer to the tropics did consume plant products.
#10 Paleo Foods Are What Our Ancestors Ate, Which Is Why They Were Lean
The paleo diet is another popular fad diet. The whole idea of this diet is: “Eat what our
ancestors ate 15,000 years ago for a lean physique and longevity”. The primary foods in
this diet are meat, nuts, fibrous vegetables and a small portion of fruits. Supposedly all
food items which are naturally available in the wild, dairy and all agricultural products
are restricted. Advocates of this diet proclaim that it allows you to eat an unlimited
amount of food (paleo approved) without counting calories.
But till date, there has been no study which confirms this. Another thing worth
mentioning is that none of the food items on a paleo diet list (except meat) could
possibly be accessed by palaeolithic ancestors. For example, this is a wild carrot which
our ancestor actually ate.
But the carrot we eat today is much more reddish and sweet. Humans have modified
carrots, bananas, broccoli and host of other ‘paleo approved’ foods. Thus, none of them
actually exists naturally and technically they are all human-made foods. Therefore the
whole ideology of this diet is baseless. Two reasons why our palaeolithic ancestors
were actually lean: First the number of calories available for a given amount of food
used to be very less
Second, they used to move a lot. Food was never available 24×7 like today to our
ancestors, they used to walk and run for several hours for one meal.
#11 You Can Not Eat Carbohydrates at Night
This is perhaps one of the biggest and most prevailing diet myth. To date, many fitness
experts recommend minimizing or eliminating carb intake during the night. The
assertion is- as you will be going to sleep, your metabolism will slow down and those
carbohydrates will have a greater chance of being stored as fat in comparison to if they
were consumed earlier in the day when you are active so that they have a greater
probability of being burned.
Seems reasonable enough. A research done by Katoyose et al. and the team showed
that energy expenditure decreased during the first half of sleep approximately 35%.
However, it was also noted that during the latter half of sleep energy expenditure
significantly increased associated with REM sleep. So, there is a rise and fall in
sleeping metabolic rate (SMR), And the overall effect metabolism stays the same.
Another interesting study done by a group of Israeli researchers kept people on a
calorie-restricted diet for a period of 6 months and split them into two groups, a control
group, and an experimental group.
Each group consumed the same amount of calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fat but
their carbohydrate intake period varied. The control group ate carbs throughout the
day, whereas the experimental group consumed the majority of their carbohydrate
intake (approximately 80% of the total) at the night. What they found after 6 months
may surprise you.
Not only did the experimental group who consumed the majority of their carbs at night
lost significantly more weight and body fat than the control group, but they also
experienced more satiety