It’s time to bust some all too commonly shared nutrition myths. With the last article, “6 Common Training Myths Busted” opening a lot of eyes, why not do the same with nutrition? After all, diet is on par with training in developing a lean, mean, skank-getting machine—er—physique.
Anyway, without needlessly flipping our willies about, let’s get right down to business. Why is diet, or rather, why is a proper and heavily monitored diet so important to physique development? I mean, you just need to eat enough calories and protein to gain muscle, and cut enough calories and carbs to lose fat—right? Well, yes and no. Nutrition can be quite complicated.
This is one reason why so many crazy diet and nutrition myths get started in the first place. Often times, those overly intelligent egghead scientist do a study, tell us fat or (insert trending “harmful” food here) are bad, and boom! We now believe something is detrimental to our bodies without doing any research of our own.
The thing is, as with most things in this wonderfully confusing world, those studies might end up being wrong, which leads us down the wrong path of what is correct nutritional information. For instance, fat used to be bad according to these “experts.” Now, it’s good (or at least certain forms of fat).
It’s the same thing with salt and carbs, and whatever else their studies initially showed to be harmful but were later disproved. Usually, much like drinking tequila and putting your tallywhacker in strange places, the answer to what foods are harmful tend to be a matter of ingesting in moderation.
Before we get into the myths, let’s go over a few basics of nutrition. We all know nutrition is complicated. We hear how you should avoid carbs. Then we hear how we need carbs. And the more you read about nutrition, the more contradictory and pain in the ass things seem to become. So, let’s go over what we know for sure.
Calories Dictate Everything
Calories are units of energy and your body needs them to survive. Calorie amounts determine whether you gain, lose, or maintain body weight. Luckily, you can simplify the process quite easily:
- Eat as many calories as you burn and your weight will remain stable.
- Eat more calories than you burn and you’ll gain weight.
- Eat fewer calories than you burn and you’ll lose weight.
See, simple. Your weight depends on the amount of energy you take in versus the amount you’re burning through activity and just being alive. Your diet doesn’t actually matter all that much until you take stock of your caloric intake. Without knowing your caloric intake, you’re just pissing in the wind when it comes to building the physique you want.
Unless you’re a competitive bodybuilder or fitness model, it’s probably not important to you to consistently hit your daily macronutrient requirements. Meaning, you don’t need to obsess over getting an exact number of protein, carbohydrates and fats every single day. If you have an exact fat percentage you need to hit e.g. a bodybuilder heading to competition, you’ll need to monitor your diet every step of the way. But the average person just looking to better their physique doesn’t need to go to such extremes.
This is where the wonderful approach of IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) comes into play. With this approach, you have a much more flexible diet where you lump foods into two categories: good, bad. With IIFYM, you focus more on the nutritional content of food and hitting your caloric needs. This also means you can squeeze in a little junk food from time to time.
As long as you eat properly most of the time, hit your caloric goals, and take in the right macronutrients, you’ll find maintaining your diet much easier than if you were completely strict about the exact numbers you take in. You’ll be a lot less likely to find yourself partaking in cheat meals, binge eating sessions, or just obsessing about food.
The most important thing about your diet is how it relates to your health. Obsessing over food in never healthy. Nor is dropping down to extremely low body-fat levels for the sake of show. You must be careful to build and maintain a healthy relationship with food. After all, what good is a nice physique if you’re miserable all the time?
To reiterate, make sure to follow these simple nutrition basics:
- Focus on the number of calories you take in versus the amount you burn.
- Make sure you’re hitting your daily macronutrient goals.
- Don’t let yourself become obsessive about food.
- Flexible dieting is much easier to maintain and healthier than traditional, strict bodybuilding dieting.
- Remember, your health and how you feel is always more important than how you look.
Now, let’s go ahead and get to the real reason you’re reading this article; to bust the five common nutrition myths we have all heard.
Check out the 5 common nutrition myths on the next page…
5. Eat Small Meals Frequently to Speed Up Your Metabolism
“Hey bro, you need to eat at least six small meals a day or your metabolism will become slower than old people f**king.” Who hasn’t heard this before? The common belief is that your body will digest smaller, more frequently eaten meals over larger, less frequent ones; such as six small meals instead of three large ones.
The old heads in the gym like to say you must stoke the flames of your metabolism with smaller, frequent meals or it will “burn out.” This theory is grade A bull honky. Whenever you eat, you burn calories by digesting the meal. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF). No matter the sizes of the meals or when you eat them, if you eat the exact same amount of food by the end of the day, you’ll take in and burn the same number of calories.
This doesn’t mean you should go hog wild and just binge eat once or twice a day. It just means it doesn’t matter if you eat smaller, more frequent meals, or larger more spaced out ones. The important thing is that you are hitting the same number of calories and macros by the end of the day. To simplify things, you can eat 10 meals at 250 calories per meal, or one meal at 2,500 calories. It’s the same number of calories consumed by the end of the day.
4. You Must Go on a Low Carb Diet to Lose Fat
If you’ve ever watched TV, or listened to the radio, or read magazines, or have used the internet, or just talk to people from time to time, then you no doubt have heard how sh**ty and awful carbs are for your physique. Carbs get so much hate from the fitness community, you’d think high-carb diets caused their grandmothers to become dirty old street walkers.
Carbs aren’t evil though. Sure, they make it easier to gain fat if you eat too much of them. But the same can be said about eating globs of lard. People just tend to gain more weight from eating excess carbs because they are much more delicious than fat or even protein. A lot of the worst, processed foods are high in carbs. This is one reason they get such a bad rap.
Also, many people seem to think going low carb works wonders because they tend to lose weight very quickly after starting. But this is only because they are taking in less calories than they were before (by cutting processed foods). The point is, if you’re smart about eating carbs, they can be very beneficial. They help give you more energy, as well as boost brain function. The key is: MODERATION. As long as your burning more calories than you take in, you’ll lose fat. Focus on your caloric intake instead of obsessing over carbohydrates.
3. You’ll Get Fat if You Eat Carbs at Night
Again, with the carbohydrate hate? This myth originates from the thinking that you use carbs for fuel. Especially if you’re going to be training soon. Therefore, you shouldn’t eat them before periods of long inactivity or that energy will just get stored as fat. Sounds feasible, right?
I’m going to sound like a broken record here, but I’ll say it again; it doesn’t matter when you consume carbs. You lose fat when you burn more calories than you take in. It doesn’t matter when you eat the calories, just that you burn them at some point by the end of the day. Simply put, if you eat carbs then go burn 1,000 calories, or burn 1,000 calories then eat carbs after, you still hit the same number of calories burned at the end of the day. So, don’t be afraid to go on that romantic, late-night spaghetti dinner with your significant other.
2. If You Stick to a Strict Diet, You Should Add in Cheat Days Periodically
The thinking here is that if you’re sticking to an extremely strict, clean diet, you should throw in a cheat day here and there as to keep from “going crazy.” This brings about a few problems. First off, if you implement a cheat day, say, every Sunday, you’ll gain the habit of eating bad on Sundays. This can lead to binge eating every cheat day, which can lead to an eating disorder. There’s nothing healthy about this kind of behavior.
Secondly, eating clean to begin with doesn’t mean you’ll develop an incredible body. At least if you’re unable to stick with it. The problem—as is the reason the cheat day was created—is because clean eating tends to be a miserable process. The food is generally boring and bland, and it becomes a chore very quickly.
You don’t want to end up that guy who is miserable all the time and looks forward to their cheat day like it’s Christmas. This is how you become obsessive about food—which can be very dangerous to your mental health. The solution to the whole “cheat day” concept is simple; be creative in the kitchen. As long as you’re hitting your nutrient and caloric goals, you don’t have to eat bland, tasteless food. You don’t need to sacrifice and suffer to get a lean body. Just eat decently and exercise often.
1. You Can Only Absorb 30g of Protein in One Sitting
I don’t know what monkey spunk extractor thought this one up, but it sure has seemed to stick around like herpes. If you could only absorb this small amount of protein in one sitting, and you went ahead and ate like you normally do, (which is by taking in a lot more protein than 30 grams at one time) you’d be on the toilet all day long. It just makes no sense if you think of it in those terms. You’d be a nonstop poop machine until you stopped eating more than 30 grams of protein at a time.
Also, there are no studies out there that confirm this moronic idea. On the other hand, there is plenty of research that states the human body is quite capable of digesting large amounts of protein. It just takes longer than if you took in a smaller dose. Your body can handle large amounts of protein at one time, it’s just best to space them out so it can digest easier. So, don’t be afraid of becoming toilet bound after doubling your scoops of protein powder.
Well, there you have it. Another five myths busted. Hopefully, this leads some of you in the right direction and saves you from wasting a lot of precious time. Time that could be better used to make gains in the gym.
If you take one thing away from all of this though, it’s that you need to watch your diet, but don’t become obsessive about it. Eat right, exercise right, and the gains will come. There’s no need to complicate things.