Nutrition has, thankfully, evolved beyond the thinking we can subsist on potatoes alone, with most men now taking an increasing interest in what they put in their bodies. But as terms like ‘triglycerides’ and ‘electrolytes’ get bandied about more frequently, it’s easy to get blinded by the BroScience.
In a world of fake news, nutrition is a money-spinning marketing game awash with ambassador celebrities that spout just as many mistruths as they do motivational memes. So, we’ve broken down the biggest myths in the game to keep your foodie facts straight.
Brown Bread Isn’t Healthier
Man cannot live by bread alone. Well, not since the 1960s anyway, when wheat was genetically altered and mass produced.
According to the Society for Minerals and Trace Elements, this newfangled Franken-wheat is less nutritious than the real stuff. Not only does it contain smaller amounts of magnesium, zinc and iron – three essentials for a healthy diet – but it can actually increase your cholesterol levels.
What if you switched to wholewheat? Carb lovers, close your eyes – that’s no better for you either. Despite the marketing spiel, the grains are still ground into a very fine flour so pose all the same drawbacks as refined (white) wheat, and scientists have found absolutely no difference in the GI levels of brown and white bread.
If you really want to make a change and can’t bear to give up the good stuff, go for wholegrain. It won’t save your life, but it has a lower GI level and using the full grain adds a whole host of vitamins, nutrients and phytochemicals that almost makes your toast healthy.
Eating Little And Often Won’t Burn More Calories
East Asian diets, in which people typically eat a greater number of smaller meals throughout the day, are thought to burn more calories thanks to a stimulated metabolism. It’s simply not true.
A study in the US Journal of Nutrition found that eating two to three meals a day burns just as many calories as a little and often diet. Instead, it’s more likely that the content of traditional East Asian food is what aids weight management – lots of vegetables, unrefined carbs and natural ingredients.
There’s More To Obesity Than Poor Nutrition And Fitness
Like most illnesses, obesity is a complex issue that often involves psychological, hormonal and biological factors.
It isn’t always a simple case of moral failure; overweight people can be wrestling with emotional problems, health issues and a genuine addiction to junk food that aren’t immediately obvious on the surface.
Studies by the Harvard School of Public Health suggest that overeating can trigger similar reactions in the brain to narcotics-based addictions – the sign of deeper emotional stress that a jog won’t solve.
Coffee Isn’t All Bad
A morning cup of joe from the hipster coffee joint near the office might dent your bank balance, but it’s not all bad news.
The Journal of Nutrition has shown that coffee contributes more antioxidants to the Western diet than fruit and vegetables combined, and coffee drinkers are statistically less depressed, less diabetic and may even live longer. Drink up.
All Calories Aren’t Equal
Counting calories may clinch a Weight Watchers certificate, but it’s the type of calories you consume that actually counts.
Different foods have different metabolic effects and therefore simply reducing calorie intake can be ineffective. If you’re looking to cut some kcals, don’t ditch the protein – foodstuffs that are predominantly protein-based can make you less hungry and increase your metabolic rate, which means more calories burned on a smaller amount of food.
Low-Fat Foods Are Healthier
There’s a reason why bad foods taste oh-so-good, and that’s fat. When brands reduce or remove fat content, the marketing would have you believe that the calories are removed, too. The reality is much different.
Since removing fat can leech flavour, manufacturers attempt to add in some taste with excess artificial sugars. This can prove more harmful than the natural fats they originally replaced, which in turn can result in poor nutrition and weight gain.
Red Meat Raises The Risks Of Heart Disease
Thanks to numerous examples of compelling research on both sides, red meat and heart disease is still very much a nutritional grey area.
While a recent study in the Nature Journal linked the compound that gut bacteria creates when digesting red meat to cholesterol-clogged arteries, others suggest there’s little relation between unprocessed red meat and heart disease. The jury’s still out.