Updated: Jan 28
At this time of year many of you may be on a new 'health kick' looking for amazing tips and tricks to get into shape. Be careful though, as there is an invariable minefield in the sea of nutritional advice! Here are just some nutritional myths to be wary of:
Myth #1: You have to eat every 2-3 hours
We have all heard the myth that if we do not eat every 2-3 hours our metabolism will grind to a halt and the body will enter “starvation mode” where food is instantly stored as fat. The truth is that in most cases, the human body can perform better without food for an extended period of time. Bodybuilders and certain athletes may need to eat every few hours to increase the size of their muscles or their general "bulk" (this size isn’t always lean mass) and/or maintain their weight or recover properly. If you are looking for health and function where extreme measures are not necessary, it may be a good idea to experiment with fasting every now and then. It is also inconvenient and unhealthy to constantly think about food as this can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food and prevent you from focusing efficiently on other important tasks. Being able to perform mentally and physically when hungry is an important function which occurs when someone has metabolic flexibility (a state where the human organism can switch fuel sources depending on what it needs to survive e.g. utilising energy from carbohydrate sources for workouts and then switching to utilising body fat stores for energy at other times).
Myth #2: Healthy food is expensive
HEALTH foods are expensive. HEALTHY foods are not expensive. If you walk into any “health food” shop and look at the prices then, yes, the foods there are pricey. We won't go as far as to say these are “fads” but some of these foods are far less likely to improve human health compared to others. The problem is that many “food-like” substitutes are very cheap - the frozen section is full of nutrient-lacking Frankenstein foods packed with additives and other nasties.
Take the time to explore different sources of food such as local markets and shops and you may find healthy foods are not as expensive as you think. Organ meats, eggs, offal, tinned fish, misshapen vegetables and fruits, grass-fed butter and shellfish are cheap, nutrient-dense foods which can be found with very little effort. It is also a good idea to stock up on items which do not expire quickly such as nuts, herbs, spices, oils, dark chocolate and supplements, especially when they are reduced (promotionally, not because they are almost out of date!)
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Myth #3: Healthy food is bland
If you find healthy food bland, it might be the result of your palette being used to highly sweet and/or salty foods (we are genetically predisposed to crave these) as opposed to bitter foods, or the food is boring because you have not yet discovered how to cook healthily without sacrificing flavour. Once you adjust your diet, your taste buds begin to adapt and real food begins to taste a lot better. Following this, ongoing experimentation with different foods, flavours, spices and herbs will help you create appetising meals so you can live your life without having to eat so often. Rice cakes and plain broccoli are boring and bland, however, broccoli can be a real treat when steamed and consumed with melted grass-fed butter and a pinch of black pepper and Himalayan salt. It is also delicious with homemade dips such as one consisting of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil which many restaurants serve for people to dip bread in.
Myth #4: Cooking is time consuming
Many raw and cooked meals can be prepared in less than 15 minutes which, when compared to take aways, is much quicker. Additionally, you remain in complete control of the ingredients and as you improve your cooking skills, meal preparation becomes even faster.
Another great way to save time when cooking, is to plan ahead to ensure you have your meals prepared for when you have less time to cook. Furthermore, cook multiple portions which can be consumed at a later date. If you are in a hurry in the morning, eating the leftovers from the day before is faster and healthier than cereal!
Myth #5: It is as simple as calories in vs calories out
To lose weight you need to consume fewer calories than you burn - FACT. That is where the story ends though. Factor in: ample protein for growth and repair; adequate carbohydrates for quick release energy; plenty of fat to facilitate vital bodily processes. These foods should contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals and include probiotics and prebiotic fibre. Furthermore, energy expenditure varies greatly from person to person and day to day. Lastly, be aware of individual dietary needs. You see, it is not as simple as calories in vs calories out as many factors influence our dietary requirements. Learning what works for you is invaluable and the learning process is supposed to be laden with mistakes so experiment patiently and socially where possible. Enjoy the journey of gradually becoming more and more aware of how your body is changing and how you can help it function optimally.
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ABOUT THE AUTHORS
John Maitland is the co-founder of 'The Evolved Way.’ A personal trainer with over 10 years’ experience, he has worked alongside a wide range of leading CEOs, entrepreneurs and medical professionals. John is a keen athlete and holds a black belt in Shaolin Kung fu. A fan of the great outdoors, he can often be found exploring the British countryside and mountains...or breaking pine boards with his fingers.
Co-founder of 'The Evolved Way', and experienced personal trainer, Samson practices what he preaches. His own healthy lifestyle, which informs this site, is based on understanding the right way to eat and exercise, not excluding of course going out and enjoying life knowing you can still feel and look good.