With so much information around, nutrition has become complicated. Many people ask me: how many calories should I eat? How many carbs or protein should I have daily? Should I eat 3 o 5 meals a day? The ones that have worked with me know that my answer is and will always be: IT DEPENDS. General guidelines are beautiful, but I am an "individual approach" lover. I believe every individual is unique, and so is their nutrition.
So how do we help people understand that not everything they heard or read is true? Education is key so people can make informed lifestyle choices, but most important, understand why they are making these choices. Let's take a look at some nutrition "myths" and take a different perspective on them!
Myth #1: The least I eat, the more I train, the better results I will get.
Over-restricting is NEVER the best option. Counting calories burnt during training takes the joy out of it. Eating too little while training too much will affect your ability to create training adaptations and make favorable body composition changes.
It is always better to create habits that can be sustained long term and that will no compromise physiological body functions. Remember under-fueling can lead to illness, injuries, menstrual irregularities and infertility, breakdown of muscle tissue, overtraining, and micronutrient deficiencies.
Myth #2: I should eat 5 meals a day and I cannot eat after a certain time.
Nutrition timing, such a topic of debate these days. Reality is that there is no a certain number of meals or times you should eat during the day. The number one rule is: whatever you can sustain long term. Now, there are facts that are important to consider. First, we want to distribute our intake around the most active hours of the day, and if exercising, we want to make sure we are properly fueled around training. Second, protein intake should be evenly distributed though the day (20-40 grams per meal) for better muscle recovery and synthesis. Third, going many hours without eating can cause hormonal disruptions such as female reproductive hormones and cortisol. In addition, periods of extreme fasting can lead to more anxiety and overeating at meals.
Myth #3: Fad diets are good for faster weight loss
Reality is that to in order lose weight we need a caloric restriction. Complete restriction of food groups or extreme fasting will only produce short term results, that may have a rebound effect. Fad diets not only they increase the risk for many nutritional deficiencies and further complications, but also create a poor relationship with food and body image. There is no magic bullet.
So our best approach is to educate ourselves, learn nutrition, have a full evaluation by a professional, and follow evidenced base guidelines. Balance and consistency is key. A practical approach that target your individual needs is your best strategy to obtain long lasting results without compromising health and performance.
Myth #4: Micronutrients are not important, I can take a supplement.
Micronutrients do not provide energy but are key for many functions in the body, and deficiencies can cause health issues. Supplements can help in certain situations of increased needs, deficiencies, or illness, however our approach is always food first.
Myth #5: Weight
Yes! Weight. How many of you have an issues with the scale? Reality is, weight does not tell us the whole story. It does not tell us body composition. It fluctuates based on hydration, bowel movements, training, and hormonal fluctuations. Many times the "ideal" weight we have in our heads, is not the weight that is optimal for health and performance.
So maybe, let's take some importance off that number on the scale, and start looking at other parameters as indicators of health and performance!